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23 February 2006

Going Intercontinental

At the air show in Singapore this week, you may have heard that it's been a real hot one. In more ways than one. It's been rather humid and in the upper 80s. I know that our exhibits are drawing huge crowds, but the air conditioning here inside might have just a tiny bit to do with it too!

Anyway, yes, there's been big traffic at Asian Aerospace 2006. The buzz is this is one of the busiest shows in a long time. And that's great.

I'd have to say the best word to describe this show in Singapore is "excitement." All week people have been coming up to tell us that Boeing was clearly seen by the industry as in charge, on the move, and on the right strategy. That's compelling feedback.

Boeing exhibit at the 2006 Asian Aerospace 

show in Singapore photo

In Singapore, Day 3, the 747-8's new design wing looms over visitors at the Boeing exhibit's interactive screens.

The other day I mentioned that one of the best things about air shows for me is meeting up with all of our friends and associates in the aviation business, including journalists. But another good thing about air shows is having a forum to talk about our new products, and about what's new with our ongoing programs.

Wednesday morning, our vice president of product development, Dan Mooney, gave reporters an update on the new 747-8 family - the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger airplane, and the freighter model, also known as the 747-8F.

Now for those of you who haven't seen me in person, one of the trademarks of my media briefings is my sizeable deck of PowerPoint slides. So I think I can say with some authority that Dan Mooney's presentation on the 747-8 really nailed it.

Boeing exhibit at the 2006 Asian Aerospace 

show in Singapore photo

What has all these people mesmerized? Click here to find out.

As Dan pointed out, this new airplane incorporates great new technologies. The "Shape of the Future" means fuel efficiency and aerodynamic performance from 787 engine technology, as well as an enhanced wing design. The 747-8 incorporates the latest in flight deck features as well as our new Boeing Signature Interior. And it's a low-risk solution for infrastructure and flight operations.

Dan also talked a bit about the SkyLoft concept that has been really catching the attention of our exhibit visitors. A great new widescreen video has been playing that actually "flies" you through this new 747-8 interior. It shows what can be done in that space above the main cabin, beyond the 747's famous hump, stretching back toward the tail section. It's a lot of fun to talk about these features, and to watch our visitors really taking a long look at the possibilities.

You can watch this video for yourself here.

Of course, at the show we've been getting a lot of questions about the market for airplanes the size of the 747 and larger. And as I've said many times before, we see the market for 400 seats-size aircraft and above to be about 900 airplanes. Specifically, 300 of those airplanes will be passenger aircraft at 400-500 seats; 300 will be passenger aircraft above 500 seats; and 300 will be freighters.

Airbus forecasts the passenger aircraft market to be much larger, and it's no surprise that the media is reporting on our contrasting market projections. It wouldn't be an air show without this kind of lively difference of opinion.

And I'm sure the questions will keep on coming as I continue an extended Asia-Pacific swing next week. In keeping with my reputation as Boeing's Intercontinental "man with a mission," I'm off to a series of visits and media events in New Zealand and Australia.

I'll talk with you from Down Under.


22 February 2006

Uniquely Singapore

The advertising campaign promoting Singapore tourism these days is called, "Uniquely Singapore." My uniquely Singapore moments began the night I got into town for the Asian Aerospace 2006 show, and they haven't let up since.

I began my visit here with a marathon three-hour session of eating Singapore chili crab and enjoying Tiger Beer with two of my marketing colleagues. It is a must-do tradition.

And the fun continued the next morning as we sat in traffic - absolutely still - for 30 minutes on a crowded bus. To be fair to Singapore, this is a somewhat typical air show experience on the first day of a show.

Boeing exhibit at the 2006 Asian Aerospace show in Singapore photo

Our new 747-8 video presentation has been a crowd-pleaser at the show.

Boeing has an impressive exhibit area at Asian Aerospace. Lots of crowds milling about looking at our displays and videos. My milling consisted of a great number of meetings with customers and media. And more media. And more media! But I wouldn't miss it for the world. There's no better way to see a lot of important journalists in a short period of time, and compare notes on what's going on in the industry.

One of the big hits of the exhibit area this year has been the video of the 747-8. It generated a lot of crowds and plenty of buzz. I'll have more to say on that great new program in another post.

Some news is being made here this week. SpiceJet, of India, announced it would purchase 10 additional 737s, and we had a signing ceremony at our exhibit.

Singapore Airlines, of course, has a large contingent here at the show. We've seen all sorts of folks from SIA, including engineers, maintenance employees, and a few dozen 777 and 747 pilots. Of course, the A380 is here in the airline's livery, and that is also a big draw this year.

Many other airlines are here in force too. This continues to be a big show, drawing interest not only from around Asia-Pacific, but other global markets as well. And this year's crowds tell me the market is still going strong. We have a lot to look forward to as an industry in 2006.

Well, off to the next appointment. And more to come on the 747-8.


14 February 2006

5K run

It's not every day you get to deliver 5,000 of a single airplane type, AND set a Guinness World Record in the process.

It all happened at a little celebration yesterday in Renton, home of the Boeing 737 Program. That's when we turned over the keys to the 5,000th 737 to Southwest Airlines.

With the delivery, Guinness World Records acknowledged the 737 as "the most produced large commercial jet in aviation history."

the 5,000th 737 - newly painted photo

With a fresh coat of paint, the 5,000th 737 prepares to roll out late last month.

It's especially fitting that Southwest Airlines is the customer in this particular delivery milestone. Southwest helped launch three 737 models - the 737-300, -500, and the -700. The 737-700 delivered this week is the 447th 737 to join Southwest's fleet. And the airline will take delivery of 33 more 737s in 2006.

There are so many things you can say about this program. Did you know that the 737 fleet represents more than a quarter of the total worldwide fleet of commercial jets? There are more than 4,100 737s in service around the world. Or that a 737 takes off or lands every 4.6 seconds somewhere around the globe?

And let's not forget the main reason we're seeing so many orders for this airplane, and why it continues to be the best-selling commercial airplane (with more than 6,000 orders and counting). It's because we've continually improved this product with the latest breakthrough technologies throughout the life of the 737 program.

photo of the 5000th Boeing 737

It was one for the record books yesterday as hundreds of Boeing and Southwest Airlines employees celebrated the 5,000th 737 delivery - a 737-700 for SWA.

The Next-Generation 737, which we launched in 1993, is 10 years younger than the competing aircraft, the A320 series. It has lower operating costs, and superior structural efficiency. Prime reasons why the newer 737s fly farther and higher, and consume less fuel. It's an airplane that's designed to meet the demands of this century.

As of January 31, we delivered 1,852 Next-Generation 737s. And we'll deliver the 2000th Next-Generation 737 this summer. Not bad. Not bad at all.

It calls to mind something I just read in this month's Airline Business. Southwest's chief executive Gary Kelly said the airline's amazing growth will be driven by a steady flow of 737-700 deliveries over the next several years. As Kelly put it in the article, "The 737-700 is our future."

Yep. And it's a big part of ours, too.


08 February 2006

Dash 10

If it's a new year, then it must be time to city-hop through Europe once again, chatting with customers, industry investors, supplier partners, and media.

I just spent an enjoyable couple of weeks traveling to Ireland (Dublin and Shannon) and London, as well as stops in Munich and Rome.

photo of Randy in Rome

At a media briefing in Rome last week, I had the opportunity to meet with 18 Italian reporters, and discuss BCA's strategy and our outlook for the commercial airplane market.

During my time in Europe some of the media questions focused on the overwhelming success of the 787, and speculation that a larger version is in the offing. Air Transport Intelligence filed a story on the subject, which you can read here.

It's fascinating to me that there's been so much focus on the "next, newest thing" on the 787 program, a program that is in itself new and exciting. And all this before we've even built or flown one.

But getting to the question at hand: currently we're developing and offering the 787-8, 787-3, and 787-9. But are we also studying a possible stretch version of the 787-9?

As I told reporters in Europe, we're not offering it at the moment, nor are we marketing a "Dash 10." But we are talking to our customers about it because they've asked us to discuss it with them.

Image of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner docked

How do you expand on the success of an incredible flying machine such as the Dreamliner? That's part of the discussion as some of our customers have asked us to consider a Dash 10 version.

A Dash-10 would seat about 300 passengers in a three-class configuration. Probably the soonest you'd see this model, if we choose to develop it, would be 2012 or so.

But if you ask my opinion - as some people did during my visit to Europe - my feeling would be yes, a 787-10 is something we're likely to do in the future. It makes a lot of sense given the capabilities of the airplane, and it's certainly consistent with our plans for the 787 and with our airplane strategy overall.


02 February 2006

Guidance

You can measure success as a company in a lot of ways. For me, a measure of success for Boeing Commercial Airplanes right now is the plan we have in place for tomorrow, and the validation in the marketplace we're seeing today.

There are other measures, of course. This week when Boeing released its fourth quarter and full-year 2005 performance report we saw a lot of information to feel optimistic about.

One of the items that I'm sure is of interest to Boeing-watchers is the "guidance" provided in the report. And that outlook is for strong growth. In fact BCA airplane deliveries are forecast to grow 36%, from the 290 deliveries last year to approximately 395 airplanes in 2006.

And the expectation is for further growth in 2007 - deliveries in the range of 440 to 445 airplanes. That's an increase of more than 50% over two years!

photo of the 737 moving line

A moving line and other "lean" manufacturing principles reduced 737 final assembly times by more than 50% and are now being applied to the 777 and 787 lines. Later this month the Renton factory will celebrate a major milestone: the delivery of the 5,000th 737 - the airplane at the head of the line in this photo.

And a word here about something near and dear to what I do every day: product strategy. The market clearly validated BCA's strategy last year. We captured a record 1,029 gross orders from more than 70 separate customers. And we achieved sales records for the 737, 777, and 787 programs.

In addition to the phenomenal demand for the 737, we continue to see outstanding customer interest in the 787. The Dreamliner has now captured 379 orders and commitments from 27 customers around the world. And with the launch of the 747-8, the 777 Freighter, and the 737-900ER programs, as well as the Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF), we're leading the industry in products and services.

Every year has its moments, and last year was a great ride. And we expect great things in 2006 and 2007 as well. We've set some pretty high goals for ourselves. Our global team is going to start the process of assembling the first 787 later this year. And along the way, in everything we do, we'll be carefully managing our supply chain, controlling costs and improving quality and productivity.

Our airplanes backlog grew 89% during 2005 - to more than $124 billion. And one of the great messages I heard this week is that we're going to prudently ramp up to deliver on that. We've got a great product lineup that will allow us to keep adding to that backlog. And leveraging this with increased productivity is going to lead to more good things.

Of course we'll also be focused on meeting our commitments to our customers and listening to their needs. It's all a matter of staying the course and executing our plans, as we aim for success in the years ahead.