March 2011 Archives

Behind the scenes story on naming the Dreamliner

A lot of you remember the contest Boeing held back in 2003 to name what was then dubbed the 7E7 airplane. Of course, the name “Dreamliner” came out on top and will forever be attached to what is now the 787. What you may not know is just how close the Dreamliner came to being called the Global Cruiser.

When we started the process of naming the new airplane, I sat through numerous “naming sessions” and workshops. I can’t remember exactly how many names we came up with—but it’s safe to say the final short list was substantially different from the original list by the time our legal and trademark teams finished their work.

At the time, many people at Boeing were pulling for the name Global Cruiser. But instead of picking a name ourselves from the final short list, we decided to hold a contest. If that contest had been held exclusively in the United States, Global Cruiser would have won.

Instead, the naming contest for the 7E7 was held online with people from more than 160 countries casting their votes. Here were the four choices:

  • Dreamliner
  • Global Cruiser
  • Stratoclimber
  • eLiner

After almost 500,000 votes were cast on, the Dreamliner won by a margin of only 2500. While the Global Cruiser turned out to be the name preferred by U.S. residents, the Dreamliner was by far the favorite among the rest of the world in this name game.


787 Dreamliner first flight - December 15, 2009.

In addition to choosing a name, the public was also invited to join the World Design Team, a virtual community that provided input to the development of the 787.

Naming the Dreamliner was incredibly important to us. We wanted to bring back the magic when airplanes had names— not just numbers. And now, as Paul Harvey so famously said, you know the rest of the story

Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun and there goes our new beauty. You couldn’t have asked for a better day than Sunday for the first flight of the 747-8 Intercontinental. The plane’s Sunrise livery sparkled in the morning sun as she left on her maiden voyage from Everett.


The Intercontinental takes off from Paine Field.

During the 4 hours and 25 minutes it was airborne, Captains Mark Feuerstein and Paul Stemer took the plane on a tour across the state of Washington including the Olympic Peninsula and parts of Eastern Washington. It even flew over Mount Baker for a nice photo op.


Beauty shot over Mount Baker.

The pilots worked in a series of tests including routine functional checks of the airplane systems as well as some stability and control tests. Thanks to the lessons learned over the past year from the 747-8 Freighter test flights, Sunday’s first flight went off without a hitch.


Captains Mark Feuerstein and Paul Stemer.

My congratulations to every member of the 747 team for a day we can all be proud of. March has been an amazing month for the program with Air China’s agreement to buy five Intercontinentals and Korean Air’s order for two 747-8 Freighters.

We’ve put together a great video showing all of Sunday’s action that you can see below.

To our friends in Japan

During my travels across Asia the past two weeks, I’ve had the chance to catch up with many people who are not only business colleagues— but close friends. That’s why the recent events in Japan and the people living through them are in my thoughts.

I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Japan dozens of times during my career at Boeing. With each trip, I learn just a little bit more about this complicated, fascinating and beautiful country.

All of us at Boeing are thankful that the more than 200 employees we have in Japan are safe and accounted for. As our partners and suppliers in Japan assess the damage, our thoughts are with them and their families. We stand with them and our customers in Japan to offer support any way we can. Through employee contributions and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust, I’m proud to say we’re donating $2 million for relief efforts.

The resolve shown by the Japanese people over the past several days is both admirable and moving. I personally wish all of them well in their recovery and look forward to returning there very soon.

Travelin' Man

BANGKOK - Hello from Thailand where I’m now providing market updates after spending the past week at the Asian Aerospace Expo in Hong Kong. And what a week it was for Boeing. The expo’s grand opening featured some celebratory lions posing in front of a model of the 747-8 Intercontinental (pictured below). I hit the ground running on the first day of the show and it’s amazing I still have a voice after doing one interview after another with print and tv reporters.


A grand way to kick off Asian Aerospace.

It was also great to have time to catch up with so many of our customers and suppliers as well as some government officials. You never know who might show up at these events so it kept me on my toes.

The second day of the show was a bit slower, allowing me to actually take in the sights of the event hall. Some flight attendants from Shanghai Airlines dropped by our both and I asked them to pose with me front of the Boeing logo. I also got to pose in front of a model of a Comac C919. I even stopped in a small parts manufacturers booth where origami was on display (along with an assortment of machine tools), trading a 787 pin for a bird origami to take home to my daughter.


Flight attendants from Shanghai Airlines.


Spreading my wings in front of a model of the Comac C919.


I was able to find a great gift for my daughter at this origami display.

It’s no secret that the expo provided some great news for Boeing. We got commitments from Air China for the 747-8 Intercontinental and from Hong Kong Airlines for 38 airplanes including 32 787s. We also picked up firm orders from Aeroflot, ILFC and Cathay Pacific.

I expect the Asia Pacific region to account for one-third of all airplane deliveries over the next 20 years. We’re already doing our part to keep up with that demand by making rate adjustments and it’s already paying off for our 777 line with orders from Aeroflot and Cathay Pacific. Of course, the biggest demand in the fastest growing markets will be for single-aisle airplanes—a fact that will play a big part in our decision on whether to re-engine the 737 or build its all-new successor. Stay tuned.

As for this travelin’ man, all this plane hopping can really throw off the body clock. But my hotel in Hong Kong made it easy to remember what day it is by changing the “lifts” rug every morning.


What day is it?

An anomaly

HONG KONG - Hello from the Asian Aerospace International Expo, where our new Intercontinental made news this week after Air China announced it would become the first Chinese customer for the plane. When we started work on the 747-8, some people asked me if we ever considered naming it something other than 747. My answer was simple: how do you name anything that looks like that anything but a 747?

I remember some research that showed the most recognized flight vehicle in the world is the space shuttle, followed by the 747. Passengers have always loved its grace and elegance.


The 747-8 Intercontinental at its premiere.

As we get closer to the Intercontinental’s first flight, I wanted to share my thoughts on what makes this plane so special. It starts with a great experience for passengers. While the Intercontinental looks different on the outside with its new technology, it also looks different on the inside. It has two special areas that no other airplane has.

“Zone A” in the front of the plane has always been a favorite of passengers traveling in first class because of its peace and quiet. There are no stairs in front of it like the A380, so the aisle isn’t used by flight attendants or other passengers going back and forth. On the upper deck, you’ll still find a combination of privacy and exclusivity that can’t be matched. Top it off with architecture used on the Dreamliner including better lighting, bins, and bigger windows than the portholes the competition uses.


The 747-8’s stretched upper deck in business class configuration.

All the technology we added to the 747-8 Intercontinental makes the airplane do something that’s almost magical. It allows the new 747-8 to carry 50 more passengers than the 747-400 at no additional cost, giving it the lowest operating cost per passenger in the industry - as well as the smallest environmental footprint. Although painted in the Sunrise livery, it’s the new “green machine” both financially and environmentally. We have an airplane that’s been stretched with new technologies to be very optimal, while the competition has a sub-optimal plane that’s meant to be stretched.

Our redesign has also made for a spectacular wing. We have a newer generation engine on the Intercontinental that makes it more efficient than the A380. The deck and a half design of our plane compared to the two-deck design of the competition makes the Intercontinental weigh somewhere between 10 and 12 percent less per passenger. All of this adds up to nearly a double digit advantage in fuel burn per passenger.


The 747-8 Intercontinental rolls out of the factory in Everett.

When you think about it, the 747-8 is an anomaly. It goes to show that a smaller plane with an incredible heritage and newer technologies can still beat out a larger plane.

Check out the video below showing all the work that has to be done on the road to the Intercontinental’s first flight. Also check out our new First Flight website.

The games people play

AMSTERDAM - Greetings from the Amsterdam Hilton (where the Ballad of John and Yoko comes to mind). As I sit here, it gives me the chance to write about something that’s been bugging me for weeks. Over the holiday break, I had a chance to catch up on my reading. That’s when I came across some advertisements by Airbus on the A330 that frankly didn’t make sense to me. The recent ads, which were all over the trades and the Airbus website, claim when it comes to cash operating cost per seat, the A330 has a dramatic advantage over the 777-200ER.

When I first moved over to Boeing’s marketing department in 1989, I joined the Airplane Economics Group and had the chance to do some very detailed analysis of how our airplanes compared to the competition. I’ve lived and breathed the “economics” (both costs and potential revenue) of these planes ever since. That’s why I knew these Airbus ads didn’t ring true. I then went on a mission to find what would lead them to make this claim.

I soon discovered a chart Airbus previously used in public at the Farnborough Air Show. That chart (seen below) claims the A330-300 offers a cash operating cost per seat that is 15% lower than the 777-200ER. The Airbus chart also showed a seat count difference of only two. When I saw the chart, I immediately knew what was up— Seat Count Games.


First of all, we all know the 777-200ER is an extraordinarily capable airplane. When purchased at its maximum capability (656,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight), it can carry a full load of passengers and bags 7725 nautical miles—almost 2000 more than the A330-300.

Second, the 777-200ER has at least 12 percent more area for seating. After adjusting for the 777’s wider seats and wider aisles, that means it can carry between 8 and 9 percent more passengers than the A330. Knowing this, I decided to run a true “apples to apples” comparison of their performance capabilities to arrive at numbers that are analytically honest.

In the example below, I used the following scenario:

  • Same trip length as shown on the Airbus chart (4000 nautical miles)
  • Same range capability for both (Boeing:580,000 pounds Airbus:507,000 pounds)
  • Same engine manufacturer
  • 9-abreast seating on 777-200ER (375 seats due to larger cross-section)
  • 8-abreast seating on A330-300 (344 seats due to narrower cabin)

When you crunch the numbers, the end result is dramatically different than what Airbus’ ads claim. What our competition says is a 15 percent operating cost disadvantage for the 777-200ER is actually a 3 percent advantage (see my chart below).


Extensive research shows the 9-abreast 777-200ER is far more preferred by passengers than the narrower cabin, 8-abreast A330. The 777 has been voted favorite airplane to fly by readers of Executive Travel Magazine in 2008, 2009, and 2010. When it comes to comfort level, a 10-abreast seating configuration on the 777-200ER would be an even closer comparison to the A330, which grows our operating cost advantage to more than 7 percent.

We all try to market our airplanes by putting our best foot forward. But sometimes, the numbers just don’t add up. This is just another example of the games people play.

300 and counting

If you’ve ever taken a tour of our 737 factory in Renton, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a plane with the Ryanair logo going down the line. At times, the Boeing factory actually looks more like Ryanair’s very own personal manufacturing center.

And it’s no wonder why. Ryanair operates more 737-800s than any other carrier in the world. Just this week, we delivered the 300th Next-Generation 737-800 to Europe’s largest low-fare carrier. By the time this year is over, Ryanair will take delivery of 37 of these planes.


Ryanair is the world’s largest operator of the 737-800.

As Ryanair works to keep prices low for its customers, there’s even better news we can offer them. Boeing’s performance improvement package for Next-Generation 737s, now being certified, will boost fuel efficiency a further two percent through aerodynamic and engine changes. For a closer look at Ryanair’s huge presence at our Renton factory as we keep rolling their planes all down the line, check out the video below.


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