November 2010 Archives

All day and all of the night

Without a doubt, it’s been a very busy fall for me and for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. So busy that a pretty cool anniversary sneaked up on us this month.

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My luggage still carries a reminder of that record-setting flight.

On Nov. 10, 2005, the first 777-200LR Worldliner touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport, 11,664 nautical miles (21,601 km) and 22 hours and 42 minutes after taking off from Hong Kong International Airport and heading east across the Pacific, instead of the usual west over Asia.

The flight smashed the record for the longest flight by a large commercial airplane, breaking the previous mark of 9,200 nautical miles set by a 747-400 in 1989. And since then, we’ve held our own citation in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Here are a few more memories from the flight:

I was fortunate to be on board that flight with a number of Boeing colleagues, airline representatives and media. It was a great experience, and one I won’t soon forget: the day I spent in the air — all day and all of the night.

Likely cause of ZA002 incident determined

The diligence and determination of the engineering team that has been investigating the cause of the incident on ZA002 earlier this month in Laredo has been exceptional.

Today we announced some of the findings from that investigation and the steps we will be taking to improve the power distribution panels on the 787.

That team has been tireless in their pursuit of understanding. They explored several possibilities and determined that the foreign debris is the likely cause of a short circuit or arc in the power distribution panel.

Whatever this foreign debris was, it wasn’t something big - such as a tool - it was probably something small. We’re taking the right steps to ensure the power distribution panels are better protected against foreign debris. In addition, we’re improving the 787’s software to help it better isolate faults.

The team will work just as diligently to complete the redesign and software updates as it did on the investigation. We will continue to update the Federal Aviation Administration as we progress through this process and move toward returning the 787 fleet to flight test.

These findings will no doubt have you asking question about the first 787 delivery and the program schedule. That is under review now by the program and as soon as we have a definitive answer, we’ll share it with you.

We test our airplanes vigorously to ensure they meet our high standards, aviation regulations and the expectations of our customers.

Every time we have a finding in testing, we get smarter about how to design our airplanes and how to conduct testing. The 787 has benefitted from what we have learned on the programs that came before it.

Our next test programs will benefit from what we have learned on the 787. And, the 787 will have the needed improvements before it enters revenue service. The test program is working.

Off to Africa

Today, I’m off on a couple of new adventures. First, I’m going to do something I’ve always wanted to do, and I get to do it in a special way: Ethiopian Airlines is flying away its first 777-200LR today, and I get to be on the delivery flight.

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I’m going to spend some quality time on this beautiful new 777-200LR.

I’m thrilled to do this for a number of reasons: First, it’s the 900th 777 to be delivered. Second, I’ve never been on a delivery flight before. But most important, it’s exciting to be with a customer that is taking an airplane that so perfectly suits its needs.

The Worldliner is a perfect airplane for Ethiopian — it’s going to use the airplane to operate a new, non-stop roundtrip service between Washington, D.C., and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

It’s going to be a fun flight: We’ll fly five or so hours to DC, and then it’s 11 and a half hours from Washington to Addis Ababa. I’ve always wanted to join a delivery flight, but when I was in Sales, my customers were North American airlines so the opportunity never came up.

I’m also thrilled to have a chance to return to Africa for the first time in 20 years. And once I’m there, I’ll be on a speakers’ panel at the Africa Airlines Association annual General Assembly.

I’ll share some pictures from my trip in a few days — I hope you can come fly with me!

787 update

Our colleagues at the 787 program have posted another update. It’s available here.

Nothing stays the same

The first time I went to China was in the early 1990s. I was a young marketing analyst supporting a sales campaign at China Southern. It was one of my first trips outside the United States, and so to me, it was a very “foreign” place - so many people, so many bicycles and such unusual food.

Since then, I’ve been back many, many times. With each trip, I gain a better understanding of the country, the culture, and the people. Over 20 years of travel, China calls two things to mind: change and growth. And there’s no doubt that the Chinese aviation industry will continue to change and grow the next couple decades.

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Air passenger growth in China is on the same point on the growth path today as US traffic was in 1978.

Last week, we released our 20-year traffic and product forecast for China. As you may have read, we are forecasting a total demand for about 4,330 new aircraft valued at $480 billion. This makes China the largest aircraft market in Asia and second only to the US on a worldwide basis.

Some of the mind-popping numbers for this market both in the recent past and going forward:

  • China’s population continues to urbanize. By 2025, more than 200 cities will have more than 1 million citizens. That’s up from about 125 today.
  • China’s economy has grown at an annual rate of about 10% since 2000. We project it to grow at 7.3% per year over the next 20 years.
  • In the last 10 years, China traffic has tripled — from 83 million per year to 255 million passengers. It will exceed 1 billion passengers per year by 2029.
  • The Chinese airline fleet includes more than 1,500 airplanes with an average age of 6. 5 years each — the world average is 11 years.
  • We project the fleet will double in the next 10 years and more than triple by 2029.
  • About 100 new airports will open in China by 2020. (Can you name the last new airport to open in the US and when?)

The numbers tell it better than I can — China is truly one of the most dynamic markets in the world. I swear you can feel the energy - change is everywhere.

Update

We’ve posted some updated information on the incident that occurred on board ZA002 Nov. 9.

787 Incident

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, one of our 787 test airplanes, ZA002, experienced an on-board electrical fire. While this is a very serious issue for the program, the good news is that the airplane landed safely and everyone on board evacuated safely. Boeing posted a statement with updated information about the incident that you can find here.

Pilot project

We’ve just made available online the latest addition to our Current Market Outlook - our global forecast for pilot and maintenance personnel demand over the next 20 years.

You may have read about this new projection Boeing released several weeks back. Essentially, our forecast finds that the commercial aviation industry will need more than a million new pilots and technicians between now and 2029.

When you break it down, that’s a demand for more than 466,000 pilots and more than 596,000 technicians!

Taken another way, we think airlines will need an average of 23,300 new pilots and 30,000 new maintenance personnel per year during the forecast period.

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Fleet growth and pilot retirements will basically double the demand for pilots over the next 20 years. In 2010 we have 232,100 pilots globally. By 2029 we expect that number to increase to 445,000. In terms of total demand over the forecast period that means a need for 466,650 pilots - taking into account the replacement of retirees and other turnover in the industry. Click on the chart to go to the 2010 pilot and technician forecast.

Of course, this huge requirement goes hand in hand with the projected growth in world airplane fleets over the same period of time. When you look at these numbers you realize it’s going to be a challenge to meet the demand that this growth calls for.

In particular, where we see the largest growth - in the Asia-Pacific region - we also see the largest demand for people: 180,600 pilots and 220,000 maintenance workers. In China alone we see a need for 70,600 pilots and 96,400 maintenance workers over the next 20 years.

The challenge for Boeing and our industry partners is not only to help our customers manage this growth, but to align our training methods and technologies to match the needs of the people who will fly and maintain the world’s fleet now and in the future.

Boeing is working hard to help develop and expand the training infrastructure needed in Asia to meet the demand for pilots and technicians as the Asia-based airlines grow.

That’s why we’re investing in and creating world-class training facilities in Asia - we just launched our 787 training facility in Singapore, for example. We’re also partnering with airlines such as Shanghai Airlines in China and ANA in Japan on training facilities in those countries.

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Pilot training in progress in a 787 full flight simulator at Boeing’s Training & Flight Services campus in Seattle.

There’s no magic solution to meeting the pilot and technician demand. Ultimately, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing - continuing to develop better, more advanced training programs, taking into consideration the diverse background of our trainees.

It’s going to allow us to meet the tremendous need for people, as well as more efficiently and effectively train and prepare them for important roles in our industry.

Sky's the limit

One of the best things about our Next Generation 737 is that it just keeps getting better. Our 737 team, despite already producing the best-selling commercial airplane family in history, has never been content to rest on its laurels. Instead, the team keeps working on new and innovative ways to improve the airplane, using the most advanced technologies to make it more efficient, more environmentally progressive and more appealing to the passenger.

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Malaysia Airlines’ first Next Generation 737 equipped with the Boeing Sky Interior

Over the past week, the program reached another milestone, delivering the first two Next Generation 737s equipped with our new Boeing Sky Interior to Middle Eastern carrier flydubai and to Malaysian Airlines. When we introduced the program last year, I shared some details and photos.

Now, we have the real thing. Here’s a video of Beverly Wyse, our 737 VP and GM, taking you on a tour of flydubai’s new Next Generation 737, the first Boeing Sky Interior-equipped airplane.

I can’t wait to get a chance to fly the Boeing Sky Interior myself, and we’ll all have plenty of opportunity: Forty-six customers have ordered more than 1,200 airplanes with this new cabin — showing that when it comes to innovation, the sky’s the limit!

Carry that weight

BEIJING — I’m back in Asia again, this time in China. While I’m here, I’ll be talking about the China market and the incredible growth that this nation’s air transport industry will see over the next 20 years. But that’s a story for another post.

Today, I want to discuss the cargo market. At the World Air Cargo Forum in Amsterdam, my colleagues released our 2010-2011 World Air Cargo Forecast. And that forecast is pretty amazing. What a change from our last forecast, which was released in 2008 while the world was in the grip of the Great Recession.

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Strong air cargo traffic growth this year is bringing the industry back onto its long-term trend line.

At that time, there was a lot of gloom on the horizon — air cargo is a leading indicator of economic activity, and the news was anything but good — declines in air cargo as great as 30 percent by mid 2009.

How times have changed. In the first eight months of this year, cargo traffic has grown 24%. By the time the year is over, air cargo traffic should equal the peak in traffic the industry reached in 2007 before it slid — with the rest of the economy — into recession.

That’s significant because earlier forecasts had expected that cargo traffic would not equal 2007 levels until 2011.

The picture’s bright in the long run as well — air cargo should triple over the next 20 years, growing an average of 5.9 percent a year.

As in the broader aviation market, Asia is driving growth. China’s air cargo will grow 9.2 percent per year, while other intra-Asia markets will grow at 7.9 percent per year. Growth in other regions, while still robust, will stay more in line with the worldwide average. As I told media today in Beijing, that translates to 100 new freighter aircraft in China alone.

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Over the next 20 years, the freighter fleet will grow by more than two-thirds.

Logically, as air cargo traffic grows, the world’s fleet of cargo airplanes must grow too. Over the next 20 years, the world cargo fleet will grow from 1,755 to 2,967 airplanes. And the make-up of the fleet will change, as a larger share shifts to widebody airplanes.

About 70 percent of fleet growth will be airplanes converted to freighters from passenger and combi airplanes, with the rest coming as new-builds. And we’re well-positioned for both of these markets at Boeing — our production 747-8 Freighter and 777 Freighter airplanes lead the industry. Meanwhile, our Boeing Converted Freighter programs give older 747-400, MD-11 and 767-300ER airplanes a lifetime extension as first-class freight carriers.

New airplanes or converted airplanes, we’re working to show we can carry that weight a long time.

 

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