May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Integrated Defense Systems

The art of delivery

The art of delivery

Boeing creates many products that can fly themselves to customers, but others require a delivery process as challenging as building aircraft

This is the story of a 60-ton trainer, a 7,300-mile (11,700-kilometer) journey and immeasurable tender loving care.

Today, U.S. Air Force pilots at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, train in the F-15C Mission Training Center. The Boeing Training Systems & Services group, part of Integrated Defense Systems, developed, programmed and manufactured the trainers in St. Louis. The trainer, scheduled to have been activated in late April, allows up to four pilots to train at one time. Using a 360-degree visual display system, pilots practice takeoffs, landings, normal ground and in-flight operations, electronic warfare, air-to-air weapons employment and air-combat maneuvering.

But another group at Boeing worked to ensure the trainer reached its destination safely and on schedule.

Efforts for packing the training equipment began last fall. After the plan to deliver all 130 pieces of the trainer in a single shipment was created, crater packers Joe Pott and Mike Birchett constructed wood boxes for those pieces, and Randy Campbell, Shipping Operations specialist, almost single-handedly built dozens of tri-wall packing containers.

Then came the process of packing fragile, sensitive equipment such as projection systems, computers and graphic processors. The schedule was tight. "The last unit was down to the wire," said crate packer John Nolan. "We received the unit three days before it was set to be on the plane."

Boeing Transportation provided the muscle to move the pieces to Lambert St. Louis International Airport, using eight van trailers and two flat beds.

Then, in the snowy, frigid wee hours of Jan. 8, the loading began. Air Cargo Loadmasters, which was contracted to plan and execute the needed palletizing, began maneuvering the mountain of containers into the waiting Boeing 747-200 freighter operated by Atlas Air. Atlas won the competitive bidding process for this flight, in a deal that Traffic analyst specialist Jay Evertt said generated "significant cost savings."

With every nook and cranny of 38 pallet positions filled, the aircraft took off at 7 a.m. and headed for Anchorage, Alaska, where it was refueled on its way to Okinawa. The freighter landed at Kadena on Jan. 9. Boeing employees who helped build and test the trainer stood ready to assist as a U.S. Air Force crew unloaded the crates. And cargo that's equal in weight to a large blue whale had traveled across the Pacific Ocean, arriving in pristine condition.


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