December 2004/January 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 8 
Special Features

Here's looking at Yu

Meet the leader of a team charged with determining how to give 7E7 passengers the best airplane ride


Jeanne Yu in a full-scale interior demonstration model of the 7E7 DreamlinerWhenever Jeanne Yu takes a commercial flight for business or pleasure she finds herself paying close attention to the cabin temperature ... to the lighting ... to the sound level ... to everything.

"I feel a little like a movie reviewer trying to relax on a family outing to the theater," said Yu, leader of a team that specializes in making travel comfortable for the 3 million passengers around the world who fly Boeing aircraft every day.

"I'm passionate about my work," she explained, "even when I'm not supposed to be working."

While Yu's fascination for detail can make it hard for her to sit back and enjoy the ride, it partly explains why she was selected to lead the Cabin Environment Strategy team for Boeing's Commercial Airplane Product Development organization. That and a good track record for aerospace environmental work-having helped design the flight deck air distribution systems for the Boeing 777, for example-make her the ideal choice to head a team that will play a major role in determining Boeing's future in the commercial jetliner market.

Her team members come from a variety of cross-functional disciplines from all over Puget Sound, ranging from human factors (what's the best shape for a passenger headrest?) to payloads engineering (how can we configure the overhead luggage bins to provide the most room?).


Current position: Cabin environment technology leader, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Experience: Thermal analyst at Sandia National Laboratories until 1989, when she joined Boeing as Environmental Control Systems engineer. Later became manager of ECS, responsible for air quality, fire protection systems, cabin airflow thermal analysis and ECS certification.

Education: Master's degree in mechanical engineering-thermosciences, Stanford University, 1985. Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, University of Illinois, 1984.

Located: Everett, Wash.











Currently the team is focusing much of its attention on Boeing’s new pride and joy: the 7E7 Dreamliner, scheduled to come into service in 2008. The team’s overall goal for what’s called “preferred cabin environment” is to make sure that the jetliner is comfortable—and better than that of the competition.

"This is a particularly exciting time," Yu said, as she checked out the seating and lighting arrangements in the full-scale interior model of the 7E7 in Tukwila, Wash., recently. "New products tend to encourage new technologies, and those technologies are passed along to our other airplanes. So the 7E7 advancements could produce benefits for all or most of our passengers."

Already the team has produced several improvements. The 7E7 passengers will feel more relaxed and less fatigued, for example, as a result of a new cabin-pressurization system made possible by the use of advanced composite materials. The technology will allow travelers to feel as if they are flying at sea level, rather than at cruising altitude.

Other advances will produce higher humidity levels and smoother flight. Windows will be larger. New cabin lighting will be more pleasing and similar to real daylight. The 7E7 engines will be quieter and more efficient. Even the interior architecture has been designed to aesthetically please and relax passengers.


Who makes up the Cabin Environment Strategy team? Boeing experts from many disciplines and functions have an important say in what goes into making Boeing airplanes more comfortable. Among these areas:

. Systems engineering
. Environmental control systems
. Flight controls
. Product strategy
. Commercial Aviation Services
. Payloads concept center
. Systems concept center
. Human factors engineering
. Marketing
. Legal
. Medical
. Communications
. Noise engineering






Meanwhile, Yu's team is working on ways to reduce occasional intrusive noise-the sounds generated by such things as the landing gear and flaps-on the 7E7 and all airplanes. Team members continue to study purification systems for the water and air, and further enhancements to ride quality. They even examine the effects of flight on the circadian rhythm (the body's 24-hour biological rhythm) and "confinement perception," or claustrophobia, to come up with recommendations for improved general comfort.

Yu feels fortunate to have the resources of such a diverse team. "We have a wealth of knowledge and experience," she said. "The challenge is to bring these resources, data and research together and produce results that will add quality, comfort and value."

And she's succeeding, say those who appreciate Yu's upbeat personality and talent for bringing people together.

"Just the other day Jeanne was leading a meeting attended by a lawyer, several engineers, researchers, managers and marketing people. That's not an easy thing to do," said Dianne McMullin, the team's human factors engineering focal. "But somehow she's able to shut us in a room and, through sheer determination and good humor, keep things moving and get the job done. It's her greatest strength. She's helping us make a mark on an exciting new airplane that will be around for many years."

It also helps that Yu is passionate about the environment in general.

"I think we should all be concerned about protecting life on Earth by conserving natural resources and preventing pollution," she said. "I'm glad Boeing feels the same way.

"We have the opportunity to make flying a better experience for everyone. That's an honor."


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