Boeing Frontiers
September 2003
Volume 02, Issue 05
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Letters to the Editor
E-enabling airplanes is “a very forward-looking initiative,
and I wish you the best of success.”

—John Tocher, Delta Air Lines, Atlanta

Enabling e-enabling

July FrontiersI was intrigued and excited by the article on e-enabling airplanes (August 2003, Page 20) and have been very interested for many years in connecting the airplane to the rest of an airline’s information system. I’m glad to see that this is becoming a focus for Boeing.

Being in Flight Operations Engineering at Delta Air Lines, one of our interests is in acquiring and delivering performance and operating information through custom applications for our flight crews. Obviously this is just one of many possible dimensions of a truly e-enabled airplane.

In my vision, there would be onboard servers that can be programmed, customized and updated by airlines. These servers would have access to the data streams of all onboard systems in a read-only mode and selected systems in a read-write mode. They would also have a high-speed, reliable, secure and globally operative connection to the airline’s information technology infrastructure. I believe there are three other critical issues, at least to my airline: the acquisition and operating cost of such a system, the model for airline customization, and avoiding system obsolescence.

I would be very interested to seeing more information on this initiative in future Boeing publications. It’s a very forward-looking initiative, and I wish you the best of success.

—John Tocher, Delta Air Lines, Atlanta


I recently celebrated 20 years with the company, and along with the package of materials and light refreshments was my service award presentation. It was a pleasant way to start my shift, but the only drawback to the service awards program I wanted to mention was that employees still have to pay for their own pre-merger Boeing service award pin.

I calculated the total costs to the company for a 40-year employee and it comes to $9.40 per year per employee. I find it hard to believe that less than $10 a year is a budget constraint issue, especially when something so small yet so meaningful to many employees is eliminated.

Maybe the morale problem that Boeing is trying to fix would be solved if the company paid more attention to the small things instead of trying to save a few dollars at the expense of its own people.

—Dale Dvorak, Renton, Wash.

Give and take

I noticed that Boeing Frontiers has articles on what employees do in their free time. I’d like to share an experience that Boeing co-workers Linda Louie and Joseph Ngai and I had.

The three of us took our entire families down to Ensenada, Mexico, to do some volunteer work. We combined efforts with groups from Oregon and California totaling around 70 individuals. Each person in our families was able to find a way to contribute and help in reaching out to the local people. Some family members helped by assisting local doctors on a medical and dental team, some in the construction of a second floor of a classroom, some in interacting through sports activities, and some in sharing about our religious belief.

We gave by demonstrating that the people of America do care about others. What we took was a new global perspective, along with many memories.

—Doug Pang, Renton, Wash.

Tulsa redux

In regards to the August letter to the editor about the Boeing site in Tulsa, Okla.: I would like to add some additional information.

The “story” in my opinion, really starts before 1951. It actually begins with the construction on the mile long facility in Tulsa in 1941, when the Douglas Aircraft Company began operations there. From 1941 to 1945, Douglas manufactured, assembled and modified B-24 Liberators, A-24 dive-bombers and A-26 “Invaders” for the Army Air Corps. Douglas produced the B-24 Liberators from “knockdown” kits that were put together at the Ford Motor Company’s massive Willow Run assembly plant in Michigan. Douglas Aircraft also had four modification hangars that were on the airfield to modify the assembled B-24s prior to flyaway. These four hangars are still there today and are now part of American Airlines Tulsa Maintenance and Engineering complex.

—L.B. Kuhn, Chicago

In a vacuum

I am writing to comment on the technical error in the article “A step back in virtual time” (August 2003, Page 16). One sentence cites “a 7-foot-tall analog Boeing Electro-Mechanical Computer that required 3,000 vacuum tubes to drain the heat it generated.” A vacuum tube does not drain heat from anything; instead, it creates heat when it has electrical current flowing through it. This is why an old-time radio would get very hot. It is called a vacuum tube because it is a glass tube that’s been evacuated. The vacuum tube is the precursor technology to the transistor.

—John Williams, Seattle

Ethics training kudos

Thanks for providing us with in-depth Ethics training on July 30. Professor Marianne Jennings of Arizona State University was a hit with our audience at Kennedy Space Center. She hit a home run with her professionalism and skill in getting the message across to all attendees. The training session really hit the mark. She was an outstanding choice to assist in our training needs. I’d recommend that we use Professor Jennings’ tape in all of our future training exercises.

—Frank Hall, Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Limited mobility?

I’d like to offer both a correction and a comment to the mobile computing cover story in the August 2003 edition of Boeing Frontiers.

First, the caption to the photo on Page 19 incorrectly identifies Jack Means in the background. Means was a mobile computing specialist supporting the Sterling Plaza site but is not included in the photo. In fact, not long after this photo was taken, Means was laid off from Boeing as part of SSG cost reductions.

That a person of such expertise was laid off leads to my comment. If indeed mobile computing, virtual office, global collaboration and hoteling are important developing concepts in Boeing, it seems quite contrary to lay off personnel with just the specialized skills and desire to bring about and foster the realization of the goals noted in this article. I personally know that numbers of these specialists recently deleted from our ranks diligently searched for appropriate Boeing opportunities nationwide as their cutbacks approached and were repeatedly ignored or rejected. So, we are losing this valuable resource to achieve the desired culture and efficiency.

Perhaps this is just a result of personnel resources being lost in Boeing today. Likely, our resource deployment structure needs a tweak. Perhaps Boeing is not yet ready to move to the next level, or we see another “flavor of the month.” Hopefully, the appropriate groups in Boeing sponsoring mobile computing deployment soon will recognize the resources just outside and still inside the door before they completely slip away. And hopefully, when others and I require this resource to expand our capabilities, we’ll have it available.

—Dave Bickett, Kent, Wash.

Editor’s note: The subjects depicted in the photo referred to
(above) should have been identified as Kirk Thomson (left) and
Mark Mottle.

Today’s hot question, part I

Concerning the “Water Bombs” article in the August 2003 (Page 32) issue: with a potential breakthrough in aerial firefighting, why should “testing” wait until the later part of this year? When some of the hottest weather and biggest fires in history are ensuing at the present moment, why are we sitting on this potential answer?

—Lee Weil, Everett, Wash.

Hot question, part II

In the August 2003 edition, there was an interesting article regarding the potential use of “water bombs” that could be dropped on forest fires from C-17s acting as fire bombers. It sounded like a neat idea but it raised some environmental questions. What are the bomb casings made of? What happens to all the bomb casing debris after the fire is extinguished? If the casings are not biodegradable and remain strewn about the countryside, it would appear that we’re trading one problem for another.

—Michael Green, Seattle

Editor’s note: The casings are

Remember the people

With six years of retirement behind me, times and things change. Though it pains me to ask, please drop my name from your subscription list.

However, I would like to close with the following comment: Boeing Frontiers is done in a beautiful format. Overall, I think it should be rated somewhere between a nine and a 10. Remember, though, that there are three things that make Boeing (or any company) great: people, people and people.

So for the benefit of the employees coming along behind me, please continue to focus if you can on the “human interest” stories—especially of the folks in the trenches, since they are the ones who keep the place moving forward.

—Walker Dunn, Quincy, Wash.

Letters guidelines

Boeing Frontiers provides the letters page for readers to state their opinions. The page is intended to encourage an exchange of ideas and information that stimulates dialogue on issues or events in the company or the aerospace industry. The opinions may not necessarily reflect those of The Boeing Company. Letters must include name, organization and a telephone number for verification purposes. Frontiers may edit letters for grammar, syntax and size.

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