2012 Speeches
W. James McNerney, Jr.

Jim McNerney

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

The Boeing Company

"Collier Trophy Acceptance Remarks"

Washington, D.C.

May 10, 2012

(as delivered)

On behalf of the men and women of Boeing and of our partners on the 787, I'd first like to thank the National Aeronautic Association for this great honor.

Let me also salute Walter Boyne and Jonathan Gaffney for their tireless stewardship of the NAA and the Collier Trophy.

Developing, certifying, and delivering the 787 Dreamliner -- like so many of its storied predecessors -- is indeed a milestone achievement in innovation. And we are extremely proud to have it added to the esteemed ranks of Collier Award winners.

This recognition is all the more gratifying for the arduous -- dare I say -- turbulent journey to the 787's arrival.

As the early pioneers in our industry discovered, innovation of the scope and scale of aerospace is rarely done behind closed doors. Successes, as well as setbacks, are often visible for all to see; such are the iron realities of the business we have chosen to be in, and that still quickens our pulse daily after 96 years.

Developing the Dreamliner tested us in all kinds of expected, unexpected, and -- at times -- not-so-welcome ways. But our commitment to the program never wavered. Our people and our partners always had faith that the innovation they were driving -- and difficulties they were encountering -- would be worth the effort. The incredible and beautiful flying machine behind me stands as a testament to them and the customers that inspired them.

In the end, it was the relentless determination and ingenuity of our global team -- inside of Boeing and outside of Boeing -- that got it done. I wish all of those thousands of skilled professionals could be with us today to get the recognition they have so richly earned. Some of them are here. So, to you Jim Albaugh, and the team that you led: You delivered on the promise of the 787. And the company and our customers are immensely grateful for your efforts.

It is also both fitting and humbling that the 787, which marks a new era in commercial aviation, receives this distinction at the start of the second century of the Collier Trophy, first awarded in the earliest, most precarious days of manned flight.

It is a reminder that we stand on the shoulders of the generations of aerospace pioneers that came before us -- including countless engineers, machinists, and test pilots whose reputations -- and very lives -- were placed at risk with each and every launch and each and every takeoff.

This intrepid spirit within our company and our industry fueled our passion to break the sound barrier, introduce international air travel, launch the first satellites, usher in manned space flight, advance the technologies of air warfare, and much, much more.

In aerospace -- possibly more so than any other line of work -- the great achievements will always come to those who, in Teddy Roosevelt's famous words, "strive valiantly" and "dare greatly," even with the specter of failure and doubt tugging at the elbow.

In this respect, aerospace -- in all its glory and occasional heartbreak -- has been a quintessentially American endeavor, and it remains an embodiment of our national spirit.

In these difficult economic and politically uncertain times, where some in our nation have lost confidence in our ability to get stuff done, the 787 is a reminder of all that we have -- and can -- accomplish when we come together to do extraordinary things.

For all of the challenges, bringing the 787 to fruition was, in the end, a tremendous privilege. It was a once-in-a-decade -- if not once-in-a-generation -- opportunity to define the future with a bold expression of human ingenuity.

That's what the men and women of the extended Boeing 787 team have done: with a game-changing set of new technologies, they have built a better airplane for our customers, for their passengers, and for the world. And it is with gratitude, humility, and a shared sense of accomplishment that we accept this honor.

Thank you very much.