March 2013 Archives

Celebrating 1,000 times over

We love celebrating milestone deliveries. This week was a celebration for the 1,000th Boeing airplane for China, with the delivery of a Next-Generation 737-800 to China Eastern Airlines.

K65850-01_med.jpg Photo by Jim Anderson.

The jetliner is painted in special peacock livery and features the Boeing Sky Interior.

china_1000th_1.jpg Photo by Jessica Oyanagi.

The event was a colorful celebration for the country that Boeing has had a partnership with for more than four decades - something we are very proud of.

China1000th_2.jpg As a lion dancer peers in, seated and wearing suits are Tang Bing (left), vice president of China Eastern Airlines, and Ihssane Mounir (right), vice president of Commercial Airplane Sales, North East Asia, during delivery ceremonies for China Eastern Airlines’ new 737-800. Photo by Jessica Oyanagi.

Boeing airplanes are the majority of commercial jetliners operated in China, serving more than 20 different Chinese airlines. Chinese suppliers contribute parts and components to every current Boeing commercial airplane model, including the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 families. Today, more than 7,000 Boeing airplanes operating throughout the world use major parts and assemblies from China.

china1000th_3.jpg Photo by Marian Lockhart.

China is considered one of the most dynamic markets for commercial airplanes. Boeing’s Current Market Outlook forecasts that China will need 5,260 new airplanes — valued at $670 billion — in the next 20 years.

We look forward to building on our partnership and delivering many, many more airplanes in the decades ahead.

787 Flies Again

Crews are back at work today analyzing data from Monday’s 787 functional check flight on Line number 86, a Boeing-owned production airplane built for LOT Polish Airlines. The flight, a normal procedure to validate that all systems function as designed, was another step forward toward returning the 787 to commercial service.

Line 86 takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. on March 25, 2013.

The plane took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. at 12:11 p.m. for a 2 hour, 9 minute flight south primarily along the Washington and Oregon coastline. Six crewmembers were on board - two pilots, two instrumentation engineers, one systems operator and one flight analyst. The crew reported afterwards that the flight went according to plan.

During the functional check flight, crews cycled the landing gear and operated all the backup systems, in addition to performing electrical system checks from the flight profile. More than 600 of these functional check flights were completed in 2012 across Boeing commercial airplane programs.

Line 86 lands back at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. at 2:20 p.m. on March 25, 2013

With the completion of yesterday’s flight, we’ve begun preparations for certification ground testing and flight demonstration with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, scheduled in the coming days. The plan is to conduct one certification demonstration flight, which will also take place on Line number 86, to demonstrate that the new battery system performs as intended during flight conditions.

Good vibrations

Everyone on board a recent 777 delivery flight for Cathay Pacific Airways had to be feeling some good vibrations. Members of The Beach Boys were special guests of the airline.

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Mike Love, a founding member of the Beach Boys, and his wife Jacqueline were on hand for the delivery ceremony of Cathay Pacific’s new 777-300ER. Colleen Pfeilschiefter photo.

The legendary group is one of the headline acts performing in Hong Kong as part of the celebration around this weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament. Cathay Pacific is a major sponsor of the event.

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Pat Shanahan (left), senior vice president of Airplane Programs, and John Slosar, chief executive of Cathay Pacific Airways, cut the ribbon at Cathay’s delivery ceremony. Colleen Pfeilschiefter photo.

The airplane is a 777-300ER. The airline plans to use it on ultra-long haul routes to North America and Europe.

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Cathay Pacific Chief Executive John Slosar (top left), with members of the Beach Boys. Colleen Pfeilschiefter photo.

The Cathay Pacific team also paid a visit to our 747 factory where they were greeted by hundreds of employees and the “father of the 747” Joe Sutter. The airline recently announced plans to order three 747-8 Freighters.

No slowing down

In just a few weeks, our Renton factory will deliver our first 737 at the increased rate of 38 airplanes per month. But in the meantime, we’ve delivered another milestone airplane.

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Our 7,500th 737 was delivered to Malindo Air.

The 7,500th 737 is now in the hands of Malindo Air. The airline will use the Next-Generation 737-900ER, which comes with the Boeing Sky Interior, to launch its low-fare service.

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A special logo for a milestone airplane.

The numbers coming out of our 737 factory never cease to amaze me. It seems like just yesterday that I was talking about our 10,000th 737 order— and now we stand at well over 10,500 total orders.

For all 737 models, there are approximately 24,000 scheduled flights per day. This means that nearly a third of all commercial flights are on 737s.

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Dr. Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president of Asia Pacific and India Sales, cuts the ribbon with Capt. Darsito Hendro S., chief operating officer of Malindo Air.

This airplane just keeps getting better. And with the 737 MAX on the way, there’s no sign of slowing down.

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The Boeing Sky Interior of the 7,500th 737.

The video below shows the airplane being prepped for its delivery ceremony.

The Bridge

When I’m out on the road, I talk a lot about building a production bridge between our Next-Generation 737 and the new 737 MAX. One of the keys to our success is making sure we keep building Next-Generation airplanes right up to and even beyond the start of the MAX program.

Another part of that bridge was built today as Ryanair committed to buying 175 737-800s. The airplane has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of Ryanair’s fleet.

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Our busy Renton factory is about to get even busier thanks to a commitment from Ryanair.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said: “Ryanair is proud to buy Boeing, who have always made great aircraft and the 737-800 has been the cornerstone of Ryanair’s success due to its great engineering and phenomenal reliability. These 175 new airplanes will enable us to lower cost and airfares even further, thereby widening Ryanair’s cost and price leadership over other airlines in Europe.”

Once the Ryanair order is finalized, a significant portion of our Next-Generation 737 production plan will have been filled. In fact, we have no concerns about filling our remaining Next-Generation delivery positions.

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Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary and Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner at today’s signing ceremony in New York City.

As today’s announcement demonstrates, there is still significant demand for the Next-Generation 737 because it remains the most efficient single-aisle airplane in the market. This demand is the reason we’re in the process of raising our 737 production rate to 38 airplanes per month— and why we’ve decided to go to 42 per month starting in the second quarter of 2014.

Our thanks to Ryanair for their commitment to our products and people. The video below shows our great partnership with Ryanair.

100 and counting

Our 747-8 fleet reached a very important milestone over the weekend when a Cargolux 747-8 Freighter touched down in Hanoi. It marked the 100th airport to welcome 747-8 revenue service. Even more incredible, the airplane has reached that number after just 16 months in service.

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A water cannon salute greets the Cargolux 747-8 Freighter in Hanoi. Photos from Cargolux.

Compare that to the A380, which has revenue service into about three dozen airports. It speaks to the capabilities and value the 747-8 is providing to our customers, as well as showing that it can operate safely within an airport environment that takes into account everything from clearances to parking requirements.

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The fleet has also been approved for more than 240 airports around the world.

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Cargolux pilots pose on the flight deck after touching down in Hanoi.

Finally, I’m proud to say the airplane is performing well in service with a dispatch reliability of approximately 98.4 percent. Even though the market for large airplanes is sluggish, we’re expecting a turnaround. That why we’re engaged in active campaigns to fill out our 2014 skyline— and beyond!

Sharing our solution

Tonight during a live webcast from Japan, which you can watch a replay of here, we unveiled the specifics of our permanent solution to the 787 battery issue. That solution is the result of a detailed and rigorous process involving people from around the globe who put in thousands of hours of work—and we’re very confident this solution is the right one.

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The three layers of protection we’ve developed address the factors identified by the Boeing technical team as possible causes of battery failure. The findings were also verified by an independent group of lithium-ion battery experts from a number of industries, universities and national laboratories. Let’s walk through each of them.

Enhanced Production Controls and Operating Processes

The first layer of improvements is taking place during the manufacture of the batteries in Japan. Boeing teamed with Thales, the provider of the integrated power conversion system, and battery maker GS Yuasa to develop and institute enhanced production standards and tests to further reduce any possibility for variation in the production of the individual cells— as well as the overall battery.

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Enhanced production standards are built into the new battery design.

Four new or revised tests have been added to screen cell production, which now includes 10 distinct tests. Each cell will go through more rigorous testing in the month following its manufacture including a 14-day test during which readings of discharge rates are being taken every hour. This new procedure started in early February and the first cells through the process are already complete. There are more than a dozen production acceptance tests that must be completed for each battery.

We’ve also decided to narrow the acceptable level of charge for the battery, both by lowering the highest charge allowed and raising the lower level allowed for discharge. Two pieces of equipment in the battery system - the battery monitoring unit and the charger— are being redesigned to the narrower definition. The battery charger will also be adapted to soften the charging cycle to put less stress on the battery during charging.

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Improved Battery Design Features

Changes inside the battery will help reduce the chances of a battery fault developing and help to further isolate any fault that does occur so that it won’t cause issues with other parts of the battery.

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To better insulate each of the cells in the battery from one another and from the battery box, two kinds of insulation will be added. An electrical insulator is being wrapped around each battery cell to electrically isolate cells from each other and from the battery case, even in the event of a failure. Electrical and thermal insulation installed above, below and between the cells will help keep the heat of the cells from impacting each other.

Wire sleeving and the wiring inside the battery will be upgraded to be more resistant to heat and chafing and new fasteners will attach the metallic bars that connect the eight cells of the battery. These fasteners include a locking mechanism.

Finally, a set of changes is being made to the battery case that contains the battery cells and the battery management unit. Small holes at the bottom will allow moisture to drain away from the battery and larger holes on the sides will allow a failed battery to vent with less impact to other parts of the battery.

New Battery Enclosure

The battery case will sit in a new enclosure made of stainless steel. This enclosure will isolate the battery from the rest of the equipment in the electronic equipment bays. It also will ensure there can be no fire inside the enclosure, thus adding another layer of protection to the battery system. The enclosure features a direct vent to carry battery vapors outside the airplane.

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New titanium fixtures are being installed in the electronics equipment bays to ensure the housing is properly supported.

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The battery will now sit inside a new enclosure made out of stainless steel. A stainless steel panel is seen on the right.

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Already testing

With the FAA’s permission, we’ve already started testing to gain FAA approval of the battery enhancements. During engineering testing, which occurs prior to certification testing, the team demonstrated that the new housing could safely contain a battery failure that included the failure of all eight cells within the battery. The “ultimate” load is the equivalent of 1.5 times the maximum force ever expected to be encountered during a battery failure. The housing easily withstood this pressure and did not fail until the pressure was more than three times the ultimate load.

Through another test, the team demonstrated that fire cannot occur within the new enclosure. Its design eliminates oxygen, making the containment unit self-inerting. Inerting is a step above fire detection and extinguishing as it prevents a fire from ever occurring. The design also vents all vapors by venting directly outside of the airplane rather than into the equipment bay.

As we’ve said before, we’ll use two 787s for ground and in flight testing of this solution. We’re also simultaneously moving out on an effort to resume deliveries.

During the webcast, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said he spoke for all 170,000 Boeing employees when he said our number one priority is the safety of everyone who flies on our airplanes. I couldn’t agree more—and look forward to being one of the first people back on board the 787 when it takes to the skies again.

Testing our solution

Today, we got good news from the FAA that they’ve given us the go ahead to start testing and certifying our solution to the 787 battery issue. By successfully completing each step in that plan, the FAA will allow the fleet to return to service.

As I’ve said before, our proposed solution is a permanent one with three layers. We’ll be rolling out more details in the days ahead, but here’s what I can share with you right now.

1) We’ve improved design features of the battery to prevent faults from occurring and isolating any that do. That includes the addition of new thermal and electrical insulation materials and other changes.

2) We’ve enhanced production, operating and testing processes to ensure the highest levels of quality and performance of the battery and its components. That includes more stringent screening of battery cells prior to battery assembly. Operational improvements focus on tightening of the system’s voltage range.

3) In the unlikely event of a battery failure, we’ve introduced a new enclosure system that will keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or being noticed by passengers. A key feature ensures that no fire can develop in the enclosure or in the battery.

So what’s next? Flight test activities will begin on two airplanes. Line Number 86 will conduct tests to demonstrate that our solution works as intended in flight and on the ground.

Meanwhile, ZA005 will conduct engine improvement tests unrelated to the battery issue. We may do additional testing if needed.

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ZA005, seen in this photo, will take part in engine improvement tests unrelated to the battery issue.

The certification plan calls for a series of tests that show how the improved battery system will perform in normal and abnormal conditions. The test plans were written based on the FAA’s standards as well as applicable guidelines published by the Radio Technical Commission on Aeronautics (RTCA), an advisory committee that provides recommendations on ways to meet regulatory requirements. The RTCA guidelines were not available when the original 787 battery certification plan was developed.

After weeks of work that involved many sleepless nights for hundreds of people, we’re ready to get to work on testing this solution. We’re confident the end result will be a permanent fix that guarantees the safety of the 787 fleet and everyone who flies on the airplanes. We’ll keep you posted every step of the way.

We just disagree

It’s always fun to share the stage with John Leahy from Airbus. While we didn’t actually take the stage together today, we gave back to back presentations during the ISTAT conference in Orlando, Florida. I lost count, but John said my name at least a dozen times during his talk. We must be doing something right if the competition talks more about you than its own products— just like the recent Airbus ads.

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On stage at ISTAT Americas 2013 in Orlando.

One of things John and I do agree on is the strong demand for airplanes. During ISTAT, I’ve been asked a lot about the so called production “bubble.” At Boeing, all of the data suggests the market is strong and will remain strong. Combine that with our healthy backlog, and you can see why we continue to increase our production rates.

We’re also sharing a new report about the economic life of airplanes. Despite some of the anecdotes we’ve heard, our exhaustive analysis of the data shows that airplanes are long-lived assets and continue to be good investments.

Obviously, the 787 was on everyone’s minds at ISTAT. Our number one priority is getting the fleet back in the air. We’re confident our permanent fix with three layers of protection will do that and we look forward to testing it as soon as we get the green light from the FAA.

Finally, there’s a lot of buzz about the 777X. Obviously, a lot of our customers are talking about it and they’re happy with the design. Every day, we’re closer to bringing it to the market as we aggressively move forward.

ISTAT, the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading, is really booming and becoming an important industry gathering. Think of it as an air show without the airplanes. It’s where people in commercial aviation who are looking for money connect with the people who have it. I’ll leave you with a shot of me showing off the Advanced Technology Winglet for the 737 MAX. I expect 2013 to be another big year for the MAX.

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You ought to be in pictures

The first 737 built at the new rate of 38 airplanes per month is quickly moving its way through our Renton factory. Our team has been tracking the airplane’s progress over the past several weeks, and I thought you’d be interested to see it in pictures.

The airplane, which will be delivered to Copa Airlines, will come out of the paint hangar in just a few days. I’ll bring you more photos then.

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Jan. 25: Renton employees load the first spar at the new rate into the Automated Spar Assembly Tool. Jim Anderson photo.

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Feb. 13: One of the rate break wings in work in wings laydown. Jim Anderson photo.

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Feb. 22: Loading one of the rate break wings onto a dolly for a move to Wings Systems Installation. Jim Anderson photo.

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Feb. 22: The fuselage for the first airplane to be built at the new rate arrives via rail car from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita. Boeing brought in eight new rail cars to support the production rate increase. Jim Anderson photo.

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Feb. 25: Employees lower the rate break fuselage into the Systems Installation tool. Jim Anderson photo.

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March 1: The vertical stabilizer is craned into position for customer Copa for the first airplane to be built at the rate of 38 airplanes a month. Jim Anderson photo.

Order up!

The 747-8 program is scoring big in China. We’ve now finalized an order with Cathay Pacific for three 747-8 Freighters and received a commitment from Air China (pending government approval) for two 747-8 Intercontinentals.

Air China also made commitments for one 777-300ER and 20 Next-Generation 737-800s. In addition, Air China Cargo, a subsidiary of Air China, has agreed to buy eight 777 Freighters.

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Cathay Pacific is in the process of renewing its freighter fleet with newer, more efficient airplanes that will strengthen its position as a market leader in the air cargo business. Cathay already operates eight 747-8 Freighters. With more than 100,000 hours in service, the 747-8 Freighter is seeing 1 percent better fuel burn than we expected and Cathay tells us they’re pleased with the airplane’s performance.

“The 747-8 Freighter has provided our revamped cargo fleet with efficient fuel savings as well as added environmental benefits,” said John Slosar, Chief Executive of Cathay Pacific Airways.

While the cargo market is weak today, it will get better— and we’re proud that customers are putting their faith in the 747-8. A total of 70 747-8 Freighters have already been ordered, and we’ve delivered 28 of the freighters to customers around the world. This airplane is positioned perfectly to capture more of the market as cargo begins its recovery.

 

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