April 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 11 
Shared Services Group

One for the big blue marble

Earth Day takes place this month. Here's how Boeing has pitched in for the environment


Green through the years

Here's a timeline showing environmental achievements at Boeing.

1966: Boeing begins work on the 747, the first jetliner to use second-generation large turbofan engines to dramatically improve fuel economy and reduce noise and emissions.

1966-72: Delta rockets launch 9 Earth-observation satellites for the Environmental Sciences Services Administration.

1968: Photo of earth taken by Apollo 8 spacecraft becomes an icon for environmental progress in the 1970s and 1980s.

1972: Boeing technology is applied to rapid-transit systems, renewable-energy systems and wastewater purification.

1977: Boeing delivers the second Applications Explorer Mission satellite, which will map the earth's atmospheric ozone layer for the first time.

1981: Boeing-built wind generators begin producing power in eastern Washington State.

1983: 757 and 767 introduce "Stage 3" quiet, fuel-efficient engines that would become mandatory for all U.S. aircraft in 2000.

1992-93: Two years in a row, Boeing wins the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for technology developments in finding substitutes for ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons.

1993: Boeing earns the U.S. EPA's 33/50 Performance Award by cutting toxic chemical use in half in only three years.

1995: Boeing wins the National Recycling Coalition's Corporate Leadership Award.

1996: Boeing Commercial Airplanes introduces low-solvent topcoat paint on commercial airplanes, after years of research to find formulas that would prevent corrosion, meeting FAA requirements for safety certification.

1999: Landsat 7 is launched aboard a Delta rocket and Boeing wins the EPA Green Lights Partner of the Year Award.

2000: Boeing employees in Washington state plant more than 20,000 trees as partners in the Mountains To Sound Greenway's program to plant 200,000 trees in 2000.

2003: Solar-powered car uses Boeing Spectrolab solar cells to win the American Solar Challenge, and Boeing announces work on a fuel-cell electric airplane.

2004: Boeing formally launches the 7E7 Dreamliner program (later designated the 787 Dreamliner), to build a new family of commercial jetliners that will set a new standard in quiet, fuel-efficient environmental performance

As the world prepares to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, you can expect to see breathtaking photos of the earth, as seen from space. The 1968 image of the lonely blue planet taken from Apollo 8, built and launched using technology from Boeing's predecessor companies, became an icon of the environmental movement, which celebrated the first Earth Day 16 months after that mission.

In the decades since, Boeing people have been at work tackling numerous environmental problems, from the local to the global.

Boeing volunteers pitch in on projects taking place on Earth Day, as well as the rest of the year. In addition, Boeing partners with numerous nonprofit agencies to support efforts to conserve and protect habitat and open spaces and to provide support for environmental research and education.

Boeing researchers and engineers have a long history (see time line right) of developing technologies that contribute to a more sustainable life on earth. In the 1970s, Boeing created ways to purify water in regions where the supply was scarce or unhealthy. Boeing built the first satellite to map the Earth's ozone layer, an AEM-2 (Applications Explorer Mission) satellite that carried the SAGE-1 (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment) instrument. The company also pioneered solar, wind and biomass energy sources.

Boeing has earned numerous awards for conservation practices, recycling efforts and investments in research to develop cleaner and greener products, production materials, and manufacturing processes. The design of commercial airplanes demonstrates the company's long-standing commitment. Compared to 1970, Boeing airplanes now deliver twice the passenger miles for each gallon of fuel, while also being 78 percent quieter. The 787 Dreamliner will continue this record of improvement (see story below).

Boeing chemical and materials research has introduced many breakthroughs to reduce the environmental impact of painting, plating and other manufacturing processes. The company shares the benefit of these new low-waste materials and manufacturing techniques with suppliers, customers and even competitors. Boeing facilities employ sophisticated on-site treatment facilities to minimize waste through recycling and treatment of their manufacturing-process water, saving millions of gallons per day.

Not only do Boeing processes demonstrate care in protecting the natural environment, but so do its people. They spend each day creating innovative products and systems that are used to explore the earth from space, connect cultures through global communication and travel, and thereby foster international cooperation to protect the earth for future generations. At the same time, they also take time to help in their own communities around the year. To them, every day is Earth Day.

Kirk Thomson is the director of Environmental Affairs for Boeing.

787 Dreamliner: Keeping it clean

Boeing's commitment to continually improving the environmental performance of its commercial airplanes is easy to see. Every new generation of Boeing jet transports brings a step forward in fuel efficiency, use of environmentally preferred materials, reduced emissions and lower community noise.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner begins the next wave of environmental improvements. The 787 uses 20 percent less fuel (on a per-passenger basis) than similarly sized airplanes. This equates to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. A common method of assessing takeoff noise is to measure how much of the airport community is exposed to a given noise level (typically 85 decibels). The 787 has a 60 percent smaller noise "footprint" than its competition.

"Environmental performance is not just a by-product of the design. It is a very deliberate effort," said Jeff Hawk, director of Certification, Government Relations and Environment for the 787 program.

Boeing's 787 program is taking a life cycle approach to ensuring that the overall environmental impact of the airplane is lower than previous airplanes. This ranges from the use of environmentally preferred materials during the manufacturing process to working with universities around the world to develop the technologies that will be needed decades from now when the first 787s are ready to retire.

—Lori Gunter



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