March 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 10 
Around the World

Employees of the Boeing Research and Technology Europe facility in Madrid

Madrid research and technology site thrives thanks to people with diverse backgrounds


What's happening in Madrid

Launched with an initial investment of about $10 million, the Boeing Research and Technology Europe center in Madrid, Spain, addresses specific European aerospace challenges in Environmental Technologies; Safety and Human Factors; and Air Traffic Management. Some details:

Environmental Technologies. A six-engineer team leads efforts including those studying aircraft noise reduction, fuel cell technology applications, and the incorporation of environment-friendly materials in aeronautical manufacturing. The fuel cell research work was lead by BR&TE along with partners such as United Kingdom–based Intelligent Energy Ltd. and Spanish engineering firm Aerlyper.

European Parliament directives involving "clean air" issues spurred this group to investigate, along with the Spain-based non-profit Inasmet Foundation, the use of more environmentally friendly materials and processes for commercial and military aerospace production. Health concerns involving exposure to chromium and lead—as well as the environmental impact caused by their use and recycling—also inspired this project. The BR&TE team's goal is to take the industry lead on suggesting environmental improvements in advance of upcoming legislation, Materials Scientist Nieves Lapeña-Rey said.

Safety and Human Factors. While this team takes a broad scientific and technological approach to solving aerospace challenges, it also incorporates the very real human dimension of safety. In fact, the multinational, multidisciplinary safety team is creating systems for effective safety management in diverse cultural environments, considering factors such as differences in language, company culture and local regulations.

Because of Spain's current and historic ties to Latin America, the team launched the "Culturally Diverse Procedures and Design" project in the region. Among the deliverables from this cross-cultural project: the examination of the possible role of cultural factors in accidents and incidents in Latin America, as well as the examination of how cultural factors affect the use of safety programs and tools (including Boeing Safety Management Systems) in the region. The goal for this and other projects, said Senior Safety Analyst Richard J. Kennedy: to "make sure the system is properly built around the human."

The group also is conducting Integrated Vehicle Health Management projects with Spanish universities and other European partners, and has signed an agreement with Spain-based Air Europa to team on research that will substantially increase safety during the airline's daily operations. It is examining innovative systems that would provide taxi route guidance for airplanes on the ground. Safety & Human Factors has negotiated its way into three European Union consortia, including those studying the Single European Sky initiative.

Air Traffic Management. About half of BR&TE engineers work on this team, which supports several proposals and actual projects intended to help solve European air traffic management challenges through the use of advanced Trajectory Technologies, and Modeling & Simulation technologies. Among these: an 18-month project for Madrid's Barajas International Airport aimed at developing noise-abatement procedures, and a joint project with AENA (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea) to better understand the safety features that will have to be provided by next-generation ATM analysis tools.

"It makes sense for Boeing as an aircraft manufacturer to get involved in aircraft performance and trajectory modeling," ATM Manager Francisco A. Navarro said, "because the solution for many problems in ATM relies on a good knowledge of the aircraft motion." In fact, Eurocontrol has asked BR&TE to lead a consortium to research advanced Trajectory Prediction capabilities.

With collaboration as a key tool, the BR&TE Air Traffic Management group has teamed with a consortium including BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins to improve air-ground interoperation. And recognizing the very real financial impact of system advances, the team is conducting a project for Eurocontrol that will develop various models to evaluate economic investments in ATM infrastructure throughout the continent.

Just like any other top-flight aerospace research institution, the Boeing Research and Technology Europe center in Madrid, Spain, assembled its staff from among the best engineers and scientists in their respective fields. An initiative of Boeing's Phantom Works, the company's advanced research and development unit, BR&TE is a genuine Europe-based entity created to tackle some of the world's most urgent aerospace challenges.

"BR&TE is the first Boeing research center established outside of the United States and staffed solely with Boeing employees," said Bob Krieger, Phantom Works president. "Its primary focus is on addressing vitally important issues in environmental technologies, safety and human factors, and air traffic management."

But while technology and science drives the work, it's the center's human capital—drawn from across Europe—that's given BR&TE its edge since opening its doors in 2002. Coming from different countries and cultures, these employees bring not only top-notch educational training and work experience, but also diverse perspectives, outlooks and strong contacts within European industry. These differences provide a boost to all of Boeing by helping the company leverage its core strengths and continue its ongoing global transformation.

Housed in an office park near Madrid's Barajas International Airport, the center partners with and utilizes the best talent from European research institutes, universities and industries. Its proximity to this major European transport center is no coincidence; in a very real sense, its presence here symbolizes the intersection of cutting-edge technology with the movement of diverse people across Europe and the globe.

As a result, the center has in less than three years become a key player on the European aerospace R&D scene. And that's what BR&TE Managing Director Francisco (Paco) Escartí said is the center's goal. "Results at the end are what matters," he said, "and we are operating with European organizations like Eurocontrol, with whom we have contracts. Right now, we have more work from the outside world than we thought we'd have at this point. ... The fact we are already capturing more contracts than planned is a good demonstration of success."

But, said BR&TE Engineering & Programs Director José E. Román: "The first success was the ability to attract good people to the facility."


Emphasizing Spain's importance to Boeing, President and CEO Harry Stonecipher visited BR&TE in late September, meeting personally with the center's employees. And for a worldwide corporation such as Boeing—which invests between 3 and 4 percent of its annual revenues in R&D—BR&TE plays a critical role in helping the worldwide aerospace community have access to the most advanced safety, environmental and air traffic management technologies.

And because BR&TE engineers focus largely on European aerospace applications, "these are jobs created that otherwise would not be created" within Boeing, Escartí said. However, Boeing remains BR&TE's biggest "client," as the center receives work contracts through Phantom Works from business units like Commercial Airplanes.

The center's 43 current employees hail from countries including Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and France (Escartí hopes to increase the number to more than 60 next year). Of these, most are engineers and scientists.


But depending on where you've done your degree and where you started work, you have different ways of approaching the problem," said Dolores Vázquez-Navarro, an Environmental Technologies materials engineer who was born in Spain but educated in the United Kingdom. "I think it complements very well because we don't all work in the same way."

QuoteOn BR&TE's Safety and Human Factors team, for example, staffers not only are engineers, but some also have backgrounds in aviation psychology or in risk assessment for industries involving nuclear, maritime and space issues. "We're always proactively looking to see who would be good candidates for future team members and to embrace our cultural mix of people," said Senior Safety Analyst Richard J. Kennedy, "because we really do see that as important."

"We are starting to be perceived as a really useful and powerful research organization in Europe," said Francisco A. Navarro, the center's Air Traffic Management manager. "We're small, but we are involved with really advanced development. We are making business, but (also) doing the right things in research."


That's why it's critical that BR&TE develop and nurture partnerships with other corporations, universities and research institutions.

BR&TE engineers and scientists frequently travel to European industry partner sites as well as to seminars and conferences, sharing their knowledge and helping build the center's visibility and reputation among industry peers.

Among the center's main partners are European universities located in Spain and across the continent. Last October, BR&TE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the Technïsche Universität München in Munich, Germany, schools from which the center has already hired employees.

Harry Stonecipher talks with Ainhoa Melguiza of Human Resources."We're now formalizing the reality," Román said, as universities provide both scientific manpower and facilities for conducting research.

Last year Boeing and United Kingdom–based QinetiQ, one of Europe's largest science and technology solutions companies, signed an MOU to identify potential collaborations in areas including aviation safety, air traffic management and fuel cell use. BR&TE will work closely with QinetiQ to develop joint projects.

Still, challenges abound for the center. Among the greatest: becoming recognized within the industry as a truly European partner despite Boeing's American roots; finding its niche within the aerospace community; building long-distance relationships with colleagues in the States; and planning scientific staffing needs far into the future. As Escartí said, "the need for people comes at a higher speed than the number of people coming into the system."

And since the contract wins keep coming, that's not a bad challenge to have.


Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
Copyright© Boeing. All rights reserved.