April 2011 Archives

Beating expectations

It’s always good to wake up to the news that Boeing’s first-quarter earnings exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. There’s a lot to be proud of, but also a lot of work to accomplish by year’s end.

On the commercial side, we delivered 104 airplanes and won 106 net orders. The 787 program surpassed 3500 flight hours, logging 1250 flights. The 747-8 Intercontinental took its first flight, and the 747-8 Freighter surpassed 2500 hours in flight test. And who could forget winning the KC-46A Tanker contract.

Now it’s time to execute our plan. With a backlog of more than 3400 airplanes and growing demand from our customers, we’ll be ramping up production rates across all product lines by 40 percent in the next three years. It’s an exciting time to be in this business, and I look forward to the ride.

Before I give you a snapshot of each of our programs and their first-quarter accomplishments, check out the video below showing all the highlights from January, February and March. It’s sure to give you goose bumps.

737

We received 98 new orders for 737s in the first quarter, and delivered 87 during the same period. Production capacity increased on the 737-900ER from six per month to 12.

747-8

In February, theĀ 747-8 Intercontinental made its world debut. Five weeks later, it flew for the first time.

In March, Air China became the 747-8’s first Chinese customer when it signed an agreement to purchase five Intercontinentals, pending approval from the Chinese government. We also completed an order for two 747-8 Freighters for Korean Airlines.

767

A great quarter for the 767 program, with the winning tanker bid and rollout of the 1,000th 767. At the same time, the program revamped its final body join and final assembly processes and moved into a new production bay.

777

Production increased in the quarter from five to seven airplanes per month. Airlines ordered 46 777s and the 777 freighter celebrated two years in service. American Airlines became the first U.S. airline to order the 777-300ER.

787

The 787 resumed certification flight testing in January. As of this week, the 787 program has logged 3,554 flight hours. 94 percent of the flight-test points for the Rolls-Royce engines were complete and nearly 75 percent for the GE engines. The Dreamliner had 835 total firm orders at the quarter’s end.

Commercial Aviation Services

CAS announced the expansion of its GoldCare service to include Next-Generation 737s. The newest CAS business unit, Information Services, is executing its growth strategy and continues to attract airline customers with the vision of a digital airline. Flight Services achieved multiple qualifications for its pilot training in support of the 787 entry into service and that training is under way in Seattle this week with the first group of pilots from ANA.

Given to fly

A great flight with no jet lag. That’s the way one of our pilots described the experience of flying a 787 Dreamliner full-flight simulator.

Now, our customers have begun to experience this for themselves. This week Boeing Flight Services welcomed the first pilots from launch customer ANA to our Seattle training campus to begin official flight training.

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Capt. Masayuki Ishii and Capt. Hideaki Hayakawa from ANA prepare for a training session in the 787 full-flight simulator in Seattle.

Ten pilots from ANA began classroom instructions in Tokyo earlier this month before traveling to Seattle for initial flight training on a variety of training devices that you might say are as innovative as the Dreamliner itself.

For 787 flight training we’ve introduced a suite of high-fidelity devices at a global network of training campuses in five countries and three continents. These devices are designed to replicate the actual airplane as closely as possible.

The training begins with what we call desktop or computer-based simulation for initial familiarization with the 787 flight deck environment. Then, pilots move to a flight training device (FTD) which provides flight crews with the same flight management and control systems as the full-flight simulator and helps pilots develop proficiency in all normal procedures as well as familiarity with a number of other basic processes and features of the 787 flight deck.

By the way, these new computer-based technologies make for a virtually paperless training course and also reduce electrical consumption, meaning a more environmentally progressive footprint.

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ANA captains posing outside the full-flight simulator with Sherry Carbary, vice president, Boeing Flight Services and Mike Fleming, director, 787 Services and Support.

Finally, pilots move on to the full flight simulator - the ultimate ride - and next best thing to being in an actual Dreamliner. Boeing has installed 8 full-flight simulators at 5 campuses around the world. The initial ANA pilots will train on the two 787 simulators in Seattle. These devices are technological marvels with the capacity to go up-down, left-right and forward-back with day, night and dusk visuals.

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Inside a full-flight simulator in Seattle.

In other words, the realism is such that once inside, with full motion on, everything looks, feels, and even sounds as if you are in flight on a 787. Yes, seat belts are required!

To experience what it’s like to sit in a 787 cockpit, check out this video.

Seeing the ANA pilots in Seattle with training underway is a great thrill and a great milestone as we get closer to first delivery to ANA later this year. These pilots and the 787s are indeed given to fly.

The Flight

For anyone who loves airplanes, the passion usually begins at a young age. That’s why I was so impressed to learn that the 9 year old daugther of a Qatar Airways executive had written a short journal. In it, Sofia Martin-Fouroohi documents being on the delivery flight from Washington state to Doha on Qatar Airways’ 25th 777 airplane.

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Our youngest guest blogger ever— 9 year old Sofia with Boeing delivery center employee Tanjer Gillard.

Not only does Sofia have a promising career as a writer, but she could also go into sales and marketing. Below, you’ll find her story she calls “The Flight.”

Have you ever been on a delivery flight? My mom kept saying “You’re the first kid ever on a Qatar Airways delivery flight!” It was very exciting. I got to pick wherever I sat. I even did ten push-ups in the back! Qatar Airways is a very luxurious airline. When I sat in business class, it felt like first class! It was very special because the plane was the 25th 777 Qatar Airways got. Some of the chairs even have massagers! The chairs can even turn into beds! In the back there was a hidden door that leads to an upstairs where there were eight beds! I saw the movie Tangled; it’s a really good movie! There were lots of movies to pick through, I almost couldn’t decide! Boeing airplanes are very cool! I love the 777. It’s very big and flies very smoothly! It was extra cool; I even went into the cockpit before takeoff! If you fly, fly Qatar Airways!

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Sofia and the Qatar Airways crew prepare to take their delivery flight.

My thanks to Sofia and our friends at Qatar Airways for such a great guest post.

Picture perfect

If you didn’t know better, you’d probably think the picture below was digitally altered. But this spectacular image is very real. This past Saturday, flight test photographer Leo Dejillas caught the 747-8 Intercontinental (RC001) and the 787 Dreamliner (ZA001) test airplanes flying side-by-side over Washington state.

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A rare sight captured by photographer Leo Dejillas.

We’ve been able to capture plenty of beautiful images of these airplanes in solo shots, but as Dejillas said “To photograph them together is fantastic. It was a picture perfect moment.” Picture perfect indeed. You can click here to download a larger image that makes a great desktop background. By the way, the Boeing Store is making posters of this photo which will be available soon.

Carolina in my mind

In true journal style, I wanted to share my recent trip to South Carolina a couple of weeks ago.. including the first publicly released photos from inside our new 787 Dreamliner production facility.

Tuesday

I started the day by swinging through the office around 6:30am to do some quick prep work on a presentation I was giving to a group of our suppliers that morning. Three hours later, I’m headed for Sea-Tac Airport and a trip to Charleston—home of our second production, final assembly and delivery site for the 787 Dreamliner.

Later that evening, I land in Atlanta to make my connection to Charleston. Once again, my trusty bag- a travel partner that’s logged the same 250,000 miles as I have the past year—comes along for the ride.

I finally arrive at the hotel in downtown Charleston where the three hour time difference means all the restaurants have already closed up shop. As usual, I can only grab a sandwich before heading off to bed to rest up for what will be a very busy next two days.

Wednesday

Even though I was a bit tired, I was certainly eager to start the morning. The day began with an event where I got to speak in front of 150 Boeing teammates about the current aviation market and where it’s headed. The crowd offered up some great questions and it was easy to see they’re very interested in our competitive position and knowing what our customers want.

Next stop, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Outlook Conference where I gave the keynote speech. My main focus was on the future 787s that will be built in South Carolina and where the markets for those airplanes will be. We’re excited to be in South Carolina and it was very clear that South Carolina is just as excited to have us there.

After a series of interviews with the local press (check out the story posted by the ABC affiliate— video clip at the top right of the page), I finally got a chance to explore. I chose to stay in downtown Charleston to get a feel for the city and its history. It’s called the Holy City because of all the church steeples that dot the skyline.

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Touring downtown Charleston.

That evening, I attended a small dinner with some local folks where I learned a lot about the region while enjoying a lovely pork shank. My foodie friends will be disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to eat shrimp and grits (but I’ll make sure that happens on my next visit, or when I have Carolina in my mind).

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Pork shank for dinner.

Thursday

On my final day in town, I got the chance to tour our Boeing South Carolina facility. Right now the site fabricates, assembles and installs systems for rear fuselage sections of the Dreamliner—as well as joining and integrating midbody fuselage sections from other partners. On this day, I actually saw where the barrel sections of the airplane were being built.

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Inside our new final assembly building in Charleston.

During my tour, I got a sneak peek at our new 787 Dreamliner production facility that will begin final assembly later this year and deliver its first 787 next year. What a sight it was to see the facility and some of the tooling coming together for that first airplane out of South Carolina. The new final assembly building there is huge and gorgeous, and everyone there is really doing it right. Boeing South Carolina plays a key role as we step up production of the 787, with three airplanes a month coming out of the site in 2013. We’ve also teamed up with South Carolina Electric & Gas for an energy partnership that will enable Boeing South Carolina to operate as a 100 percent renewable energy site.

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Room at the top

By the middle of this year, we may be answering the questions a lot of you are asking. Will Boeing offer a new engine for the 737? Will Boeing build an entirely new airplane? Regardless of the answer, one fact is clear. The Next-Generation 737 will continue to get even better long before Airbus’ Neo ever comes to the market.

One of those improvements is already here with our new Boeing Sky Interior. Being a frequent flyer, there’s a certain part of this interior that really matters to me—a place to put my bag. But that’s not the only improvement. Before I get into the specifics, check out the video I took on board a 737-800 with Boeing Sky Interior we just delivered to Jetairfly, the Belgian branch of TUI Travel. (Yes—it still had that new airplane smell).

My thanks to our friends at Jetairfly for having us on their new airplane. Their flight attendants tell us they’ve already received great comments on the first 737-800 they’ve been flying that has the Boeing Sky Interior—especially about the pivot bins.

On a 737-800, those pivot bins hold four more bags (based on 9”x14”x22” bag) than our BigBins—and 18 more bags than the Airbus A320 “enhanced” interior. Even though the A320 bins have more volume per seat, they have less usable space due to an inefficient design.

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Bigger bins to stow your stuff.

The bins pivot away from passengers allowing more headroom and increasing the sense of space in the cabin. The new sculpted sidewalls and window reveals draw the passenger’s eye toward the window. And while the actual size of the windows hasn’t changed, this new design adds a bit to the maximum viewable area - amounting to about 20% greater viewing than the A320.

All in all, the Boeing Sky Interior experience gives you a little more room at the top.

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Another airplane with the Boeing Sky Interior.

Turning two

I feel a special attachment to our 777 Freighter, which recently marked its second year in service. That’s because I had a small part in bringing it to the market. Beginning back in late 2001, I was part of a working group that for a number of years worked closely with our key customers to understand where Boeing needed to go with our freighter product line.

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The 777 Freighter recently marked its second year in the air.

We had to figure out whether to extend the 747’s capabilities around a freighter or build a 777 Freighter. Our customers and analysis showed that we could do both, so we designed them to complement each other in terms of capacity and cost. Some of our customers have made a choice to go with either the 777 Freighter or 747-8 Freighter— and some have made a choice to use both.

10 years after we first started talking about it, the 777 Freighter is still one of my favorites—and as you’ll see in the video below, one of our customers’ favorites too.

Our commitment to excellence

Here’s a statistic that is truly incredible. Every few seconds of every day, two Boeing 737s take off or land somewhere in the world. It speaks not only to the popularity of the airplane, but also to the safety and dependability of this airline workhorse.

The Boeing 737-300, -400 and -500 have a safety record that we’re extremely proud of. That’s why we have people on the ground right now working side by side with our customers— making sure they have everything they need to complete the inspections following last Friday’s incident onboard a 737-300.

Boeing has issued a service bulletin and the FAA issued an airworthiness directive calling for the closer inspection of approximately 175 airplanes from the 737-300, -400 and -500 series that have more than 30,000 life cycles (each cycle represents one takeoff and one landing). This applies only to these models which have a specific lap joint design no longer used in production of our airplanes. As other airplanes with the same design approach 30,000 life cycles, they’ll also undergo the same inspections.

All of our Next-Generation 737s incorporate a new design that is significantly different. That design greatly reduces the amount of bending during pressurization, thereby reducing fatigue cracking. It was part of our commitment to constantly improve and enhance our 737 family that continues to this very day.

Those changes continue with the new Boeing Sky Interior, which can be seen with your own eyes. Other changes, like the upcoming feature to improve fuel consumption by another 2 percent, will be felt by our customers. Regardless of whether we decide to build a brand new airplane, the 737 will continue to be the market leader for years to come.

We have great confidence in the ongoing investigative process with the NTSB, the FAA and our customers that ensures a safe and efficient global air transportation system. If it yields an even better way to improve our product, we fully embrace it.

Safety is our top priority. Always has been—always will be. No other jetliner family has matched the endurance of the 737 and we don’t expect that to ever change. But learning about our in-service product, and building improvements back into our design and production system, are at the heart of how we make our products more useful to our airline customers.

Creative marketing

Some of our customers have once again come up with some classic April Fools’ Day news releases. In the spirit of the day, I wanted to share some with you.

WestJet: Talk about a creative way to save fuel. Their fake news release says the airline will start pumping helium into the ventilation system to lighten the weight of their Next-Generation 737s. They even produced a hilarious video that you have to watch.

Virgin Atlantic: On their Twitter account, they announced that they’re now growing fresh herbs and veggies in a special onboard vegetable patch.

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Virgin Atlantic’s veggie garden.

Ryanair: In an effort to help you avoid other people’s children, the airline says it will introduce “child free” flights. The best quote from the release: “When it comes to children we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people’s little monsters when travelling.”

Southwest: Our friends at Southwest claim to have discovered a way to travel through time— taking customers on a trip back to their very first flight in 1971. Check out the video here.

I’ll close today by directing you to something that’s actually very real. The April issue of Frontiers magazine offers a beautiful photo of the 747-8 Intercontinental during its first flight that you can download here. Have a great weekend!

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First Flight of the 747-8 Intercontinental.

 

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