May 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 1 
Cover Story

Imagination becoming a reality'

Commercial Airplanes people inspired, awed by launch of the 7E7

BY Lori Gunter

Imagination becoming a reality'For the men and women working on the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner, April 26 was the day they had waited for.

When All Nippon Airways announced its firm order for 50 7E7s that day, the Boeing board of directors authorized launch of the program, signaling the company’s commitment to build the new airplane. The order is the biggest single launch order ever for Boeing, with a list-price value of $6 billion, and marks a solid first step for the 7E7 program into the market for mid-size airplanes—a market segment of about 3,500 airplanes over the next 20 years worth about $400 billion in business, according to Boeing forecasts.

The 7E7 has been designed to fly faster, higher, farther, cleaner, quieter and more efficiently than any other airplane in its class, and it will make flights more enjoyable for passengers. “The 7E7 is a true game-changer for the industry and the traveling public,” said Boeing President and CEO Harry Stonecipher.

The 7E7 becomes the 11th new airplane family Boeing has launched since ushering in the jet age in 1952 with the start of the 707. For many employees, working on a program during the launch phase is literally a once-in-a-career event.

And the launch story is really their story—one that can best be told in their own words.

Most Boeing Commercial Airplanes employees heard the launch news on their way to work that Monday. The announcement had been made at midnight Pacific time, shortly after ANA’s decision to order had been announced in Japan.

They said it
Here’s a collection of comments about the launch of the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner.

“This is a solid start for the 7E7 program, and additional orders this year could strongly validate the attractiveness of the aircraft and signal backlog growth for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in 2004.”

— Byron Callan, a Merrill Lynch aerospace analyst, in an April 27 research report, as quoted in the Seattle Times

All Nippon Airways’ selection of the 7E7 “is consistent with our stated goal to operate the safest, most modern, efficient and comfortable fleet of aircraft in the world.”

— Yoji Ohashi, ANA president and chief executive, in The Wall Street Journal

“This order is the best economic news for Boeing’s working families in a long time. We all hope this is the start of a long line of orders for a plane that is on the cutting edge of aviation technology.”

— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), in a statement cited by the Washington Post

“[The 7E7] could very well herald a new renaissance at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.”

— Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group, quoted in the Financial Times

“Newly developed mid-range airplanes will suit All Nippon’s strategy to penetrate Asian routes, while they will also potentially provide efficiency to the domestic route operations. All Nippon will benefit from cost competitiveness by introducing” these new planes.

— Yasuhiro Matsumoto, an analyst with BNP Paribas Securities (Japan) Ltd., quoted in the China Daily newspapaer

“It’s more of a gut feeling than anything, but I think [Boeing is] turning the corner.”

— Charles Hill, a business professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, in The New York Times

Kris Sahabu, part of the 7E7 Systems team, said that hearing the announcement on the radio, “I knew it was going to be different for days and years to come.”

“The journey we have now started has no turning back,” said Brad Zaback, who leads the Operations team supporting the Airplane and Services Integration Team.

“For me, 7E7 launch represents a great work of imagination becoming a reality,” said Mehdi Safavi, who works on the electrical subsystems team. “It signifies a lifetime opportunity to contribute to something that is the focal point of so many advanced technologies and great ideas from brilliant people of various backgrounds.”

Fuselage and Interiors team member John Patterson said, “What I’ve started to realize over the past few months is that we are not just building another passenger airliner, we are building the best passenger airliner ever thought of and bringing it to reality.”

“I feel like a proud dad at the birth of his child,” commented Len Hardaway, manager of 7E7 Core System Avionics. “This airplane will be a legacy that we offer the world in bringing people of all cultures together more efficiently and comfortably than ever before. Our children, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren will fly in 7E7 airplanes.”

For many team members, the launch decision by the board reaffirmed their pride in Boeing and their confidence in the future of the company.

“Boeing is back, with a vengeance!” said Business Operations’ Matt Bueser.

“The 7E7 order made competing aircraft obsolete overnight,” said Robert Bond, who is part of the 7E7 Services team. “Boeing appears on track to regain firm control of the No. 1 spot in commercial aircraft production.”

“I felt elated and proud to be a Boeing employee again,” said Steven Case, part of the change management team. “There has been so much negative media lately that I felt we were sliding down the mountain. It also provided hope that we will survive by producing another quality product for the future.”

William Roeseler, a member of the Wing and Empennage team, said, “The launch today is clear indication that the new Boeing is still capable of taking risk to obtain great rewards.”

“I am so proud of this company again!” said Susan Tankersley, 7E7 software and systems engineer. “We just showed the world that we are the leaders in commercial aviation.”

Ronald Yabut of the 7E7 avionics team, said, “I will be mighty proud to have my son someday tell people that his dad helped build the 7E7.”

For Sally Jones, a member of the 7E7 fuselage team, the announcement came the same week she was retiring following a 14-year career with Boeing. She said, “Now I can leave on a really positive note, knowing that Boeing is, again, on its way up to being No. 1 with the 7E7 Dreamliner. Hearing the news of the program launch put the frosting on my cake.”

Like many employees, James McConachie, who works in propulsion aerodynamics, reflected on the historic importance of the decision to go forward with the 7E7.

“The launch of the 7E7 could be a decisive turning point in the history of Boeing Commercial Airplanes—not unlike the launch of the 707 some 50 years ago,” he said.

“We are going to change aviation history,” said Ron Hinderberger, leader of the propulsion team.

Mark Jenks, leader of the Wing and Empennage team, said. “I’ve often looked with a mix of awe and envy at the veterans of the original 707 and 747 programs as makers of history. Their ingenuity and perseverance have influenced the lives of millions and rank among the major engineering achievements of the 20th century. What an honor and privilege to be participating in what will surely be one of the engineering achievements of the 21st century.”

Combined with the pride and enthusiasm was a healthy dose of reality as employees also considered the challenges ahead.

“We must continuously remind ourselves that this program and airplane will be unique, different in many ways. It would be easy for people to slip into old ways of thinking and doing things,” said Clifford Kellogg, who works in 7E7 systems integration. “But, to lead the way into the future and be more than competitive with that ‘other’ company, we must unleash the best that both our experience and imaginations have to offer.”

Challenges were also on Karen Malen-Hogle’s mind when she heard about the launch: “There are many challenges ahead. But if it was easy, anyone could do it. But not just anyone is building this airplane, The Boeing Company is!”

Nippon Airways 7E7 graphic

Meet the Dreamliner

The Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner is a twin-aisle, twin-jet airplane that will bring the economics, speed and range of today’s much larger jets—such as the 747 and 777—to mid-sized markets. The airplane has been designed to fly faster, higher, farther, cleaner, quieter and more efficiently than any other airplane in its class, and it will make flights more enjoyable for passengers.

The 7E7 family includes three versions:

  • The 7E7-8, which accommodates 217 passengers in three-class seating and has a range of 8,500 nautical miles.
  • The 7E7-9, a stretched version of the 7E7-8 that will accommodate 257 passengers.
  • The 7E7-3, which is optimized for shorter ranges of 3,500 nautical miles. It will have capacity of 289 passengers in a two-class configuration and feature a slightly modified wing and some lighter structure.

All three family members will offer improved fuel usage as compared to the nearest competitors. By using 20 percent less fuel, the 7E7 will be an environmental leader and an economic powerhouse for airlines.

Passengers will notice a difference with the 7E7, too. The interior has been designed to make their flights more enjoyable. From bigger stowage bins and larger windows to lower cabin pressure and wider seats, every detail of the airplane will contribute to an overall better flying experience.

Meet the buyer

All Nippon Airways was a launch customer for the Boeing 767 and the Boeing 777. Now it’s the launch customer for the 7E7.

The Tokyo-based airline traces its roots to a helicopter and airplane transport company started in 1952. Today, the carrier is one of the largest airlines in the world. Together with its sister company Air Nippon, ANA carries almost 51 million passengers every year to 45 destinations in Japan, and to 20 overseas cities in Asia, Europe and the United States.

ANA’s fleet includes 138 Boeing airplanes and 35 Airbus airplanes. As part of the airline’s goal to reduce airplane types in its fleet, last year ANA ordered 45 737-700s to replace its single-aisle fleet. The 50 7E7s ordered on April 26 will eventually replace ANA’s fleet of 61 medium-sized airplanes.

Although ANA will not determine the fleet mix of its 7E7 order until this summer, it will be operating both the 7E7-3 and -8 on routes within Asia beginning in 2008. These airplanes will help ANA achieve its goal of transforming itself from being a major Japanese domestic airline with international service into a significant international carrier with strong domestic service.



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