Watching the news hasn't been much fun lately for those who have a stake in commercial aviation.
Consumer confidence is low and unemployment relatively high. Stock markets are troubled. And terrorism has caused a loss of confidence in air travel.
Airlines are in the midst of a profound downturn, with many facing serious financial problems and bankruptcy. The number of unneeded, parked airplanes has risen to 2,000 the highest ever. And sales competitions, at the relatively few airlines looking for new airplanes, have never been more intense.
At Boeing Commercial Airplanes, production rates have been cut in half since September 2001, and as a result there are 30,000 fewer workers at the company, including 5,000 fewer engineers and technical workers.
From electronic equipment to clothing to exotic fresh fruit, Boeing freighters haul it all.
Boeing freighters represent 87 percent of the world's freighter aircraft fleet and carry 90 percent of the world's air cargo. And even though the worst decline in modern history of the air cargo industry occurred last year, Boeing projects that world air cargo traffic will expand at an average of 6.4 percent during the next two decades.
Imagine that your favorite author has just published a new book. You don't have time to drive to the nearest bookstore, so what do you do? You buy it online. With a few clicks of your mouse, you have the book delivered to your door in a matter of days.
Now imagine that you own a Boeing 737 and you need a spare part. It can't possibly be as easy as ordering a book online, can it?
717s delivered to your door
Here's an idea: Instead of airline customers coming to Boeing to test and inspect their new airplanes, why not just deliver them when ready right to their doorsteps?
Far-fetched? Not for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Long Beach, Calif. After extensive research and working closely with 717 launch customer AirTran Airways, the Long Beach Division team developed a new delivery process that does just that.
High visibility for Boeing's high-tech commitment
In recent years, crowded airports, long lines and frequent delays have threatened the aviation industry. Boeing is committed to leading the way in enhancing the safety and efficiency of the global air transportation system.
Exemplifying that commitment, Boeing recently took its Technology Demonstrator airplane to Washington, D.C., for demonstration flights with regulatory authorities and other government officials. This flying test-bed, a 737-900, allows Boeing to work with authorities, airlines, and suppliers to evaluate new technologies in a real-world commercial aviation environment.
Repeater screens inside the airplane (left) show what's happening in the flight deck during all phases of flight. Of particular interest to officials were Required Navigation Performance approaches, which use data from Global Positioning System satellites and the flight management computer to land in marginal visibility on runways without land-based navigation aid support.
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