Volume 03, Issue 3
More than an airplane
777 helps create cultural exchange for students in Seattle and Kenya
BY BRIAN D. WALKER
Boeing's commitment to participate directly in the countries where it does business was clearly demonstrated in Nairobi this May with the delivery of Kenya Airways' first 777-200ER.
So often, the most prominent reporting on Boeing aircraft deliveries is the culminating ceremony prior to the airplane taking off from the Seattle area. Kenya's delivery offered an opportunity seized upon by Mike Smith, Boeing Commercial Airplanes regional sales director, to make the most of the event and bring together middle school students from both countries.
A week prior to the delivery flight, five Kenyan students, selected for their scholarly achievement and interpersonal skills, flew to the Seattle area with Kenya Airways Chairman I.E. Omolo Okero and other airline officials. The Kenyan students were met and hosted by their peers from Sumner Junior High School in Sumner, Wash., for a week of fun and camaraderie in the Seattle area.
"Kenya Airways and Boeing discussed the idea of a cultural exchange program early on, and we worked hard together to make it a rewarding and educational experience for the kids from both here and Kenya," Smith said. The Sumner students also took the initiative in a book drive that netted over 5,000 editions for distribution in Nairobi-area schools. Three Seattle-area students later accompanied the Boeing team on visits to the schools and saw how students in Kenya live and learn.
While in the Seattle area, the Kenyan students attended classes at the school, took in a Seattle Mariners baseball game at Safeco Field, toured Boeing facilities and even spent time in a flight simulator.
On May 21, Kenya's new 777 flagship took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., for its new home base in Nairobi via a stopover in London.
Smiles turned to wide-eyed excitement on the Nairobi approach as the technologically advanced 777 dropped down to 6,500 feet (just 1,000 feet or 300 meters above ground level at the Kenyan capital) and was joined by two F-5 fighter jet escorts. Following a flyby of the city, the fighters peeled off and the airplane landed to a dazzling cultural display led by local tribal drummers and traditional singers.
Dan Becker, vice president 747/767/ 777 Programs, led the Boeing team on the ground and was invited to speak on behalf of all Commercial Airplanes employees to mark the occasion. "We should recognize the delivery of the first of three 777 airplanes to Kenya Airways as a milestone event in the growth and recognition of this wonderful and well-respected airline," he said.
In addition to the new Boeing 777-200ER flagship, Kenya Airways operates an all-Boeing fleet that includes six 767-300ER airplanes and 11 737s, including four Next-Generation 737-700 aircraft. Kenya Airways placed an order for three Boeing 777-200ERs in March 2002; deliveries of the remaining aircraft are scheduled for May and June of 2005.
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