March 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 10 
Letters to the Editor

787: ThE right namE?

February FrontiersI do not think the company took full advantage of what the 7E7 designation conveyed.

The name 7E7 conveys the strategic positioning of the design to our airline customers, the flying public and to Boeing employees. The "E" should remain because the airplane is e-fficient--and e-nabled, thanks to Connexion.

The airplane will be efficient for operators because the use of composite materials will result in weight savings, fuel efficiency, and reduced maintenance cost for corrosion inspections and removal. The airplane will be efficient for the flying public because they want to spend less time in airports and travel on more point-to-point flights. Connexion will also allow passengers in-flight access to the Internet, increasing efficiency further.

The airplane will be efficient for Boeing since the new design and processes will result in reduced manufacturing cost.

By not utilizing the 7E7 designation, the company is missing an opportunity to differentiate the airplane in the eyes of the airlines, passengers and our employees.

--Brian Singletary, Long Beach, Calif.

Figuring A380's math

News articles consistently say that the A380 will be profitable after 250 orders. No way. It has been published that the development costs are almost $16 billion. If that figure is true, Airbus has to make a profit of $64 million per plane. If they are selling these planes for $250 million--and there are reports that they have been discounted by as much as 40 percent--that would be a tidy profit margin of 25.6 percent. In this business? And for an undiscounted price? No way.

So let us look at a more realistic scenario: 20 percent discount with a 10 percent profit margin. Under these fairly favorable conditions, Airbus will need to sell 800 planes before making even a penny of profit. So they have about 661 planes left to go.

My prediction? The A380 will follow in the footsteps of the Concorde: Relatively few will be made, it will never be profitable, and the planes will be used on certain routes for a number of years, then retired.

--Dennis Richter, Everett, Wash.

Speed up

I found the article "High-speed performance" (December 2004/January 2005) quite interesting. It has been more than 96 years since Henry Ford applied and showed the benefits of a moving assembly line. Why has it taken the aircraft industry so long to wake up? If memory serves me, this modern-day concept was pioneered in aircraft assembly at Boeing by another remarkable Boeing airplane, the 717.

--Dion Salfen, Long Beach, Calif.

Suggested reading

I was pleased to hear that the company had purchased the innovative unmanned aerial vehicle company, Frontier. (Challenge insert, December 2004/January 2005) Dina Hyde, the new group manager, will certainly have her hands full maintaining the group's innovative edge while "they acclimatize to working as part of an aerospace giant," as the article says. I recommend that the managers involved in the acclimatizing read C. M. Christensen's book, "The Innovator's Dilemma." Go Dina!

--Bob Nease, Orange, Calif.

Wish list

I'd like to see some articles on office administrators and how they help contribute to the overall success of the company. We work extremely hard just like everyone else, and you never see anything about us. I'd also like to see an article on how the company is implementing diversity, what training there is, what it takes to get into the field and what activities there are to promote it. What is Boeing promoting as far as activities for this?

--Irma Sessums, Houston


Regarding the profile of Jeanne Yu in the December 2004/January 2005 issue (Challenge insert): The consuming desire of my colleagues to revolutionize manufacturing, unmanned vehicles and systems, and passenger comfort is heartwarming. Better days can't be far ahead when we again achieve our right to be the largest supplier of commercial airplanes.

I eagerly look forward to my nonstop flight, from Seattle to New Delhi, India, aboard the 787 Dreamliner. It will truly be relaxing to fly at a more comfortable cabin altitude in a healthier-humidity environment. And please give me an extra inch or two all around, a padded wider arm rest and a little more ventilation during ground operations, in economy class.

It will be a privilege to fly in the "preferred cabin environment." Good luck to Ms. Yu and the Cabin Environment Strategy team.

--Alankar Gupta, Renton, Wash.


Who's doing the rebranding?

I've heard so many times from the media relations people at Airbus at various air shows that new Boeing aircraft were nothing more than remodeled "old aircraft." They've said the 747-400 is a retouched 747-200 with the technologies of the 1960s; the 717 "a touched-up old DC-9"; the Next-Generation 737 "the last derivative of an aircraft from another age."

But tell me, what is the supposedly new Airbus A350? Nothing more than a rewinged A330 featuring the same circular fuselage dating from the 1970 A300 model--so uncomfortable for passengers in window seats.

I hope Boeing will this time be loud and clear about how advanced the 787 is compared with the A350.

--Philippe Cauchi, Outremont, Quebec

Don't forget those outside the United States

As a retired Boeing engineer, I enjoy the contact Boeing Frontiers allows me to maintain with my working past--particularly the articles on technology and manufacturing advances. I spent time in both Manufacturing and Quality research.

One area where I think you do a more-than-slight disservice to Boeing is in how you cover the "other side" of Boeing's huge worldwide spread--those employees who are resident at a multiplicity of suppliers who design, develop and deliver large chunks of product to the Boeing assembly factories.

There is an amazing mix of American expatriates and local skilled employees who spend their time in places and spaces we cannot begin to imagine, in order to ensure that the contracted product is delivered on time and within specifications. They sit with their assigned suppliers and weave their way through a complex mix of contract documents, material and process specifications, and schedules to get the product in place.

--Bill Proud, Kent, Wash.

Looking good

I wanted to pass on a note of thanks for producing the much-anticipated publication, Boeing Frontiers. I enjoy the articles, and as a graphics designer I always take note of the layout, design and graphic elements that put your publication a cut above many others.

The December 2004/January 2005 issue was so well done. In particular, I found the photography to be excellent. What struck me is how creatively composed the photos are and how well they work with the page design. I thought the lighting and the various angles of the subjects gave this particular issue an added edge, especially in the "Dream job" feature in the Challenge insert (Page 24).

--Karen O'Brien, Mesa, Ariz.

What it's about

Boeing has afforded me a welcoming career.

I have been lucky to have had managers who molded me into a worker of integrity who provided high-quality work.

To improve myself, I rotated around the division. During the low days, when I got laid off, I was not angry. Instead, I was optimistic. Thankfully, I was called back to the same group.

At times, I've lived and commuted 160 miles for classes and meetings. That's what the job is all about if you love it and believe in it.

--Josefina Behymer, Everett, Wash.

An important sign

I'd like to comment on the decision to end production of the Boeing 717 in 2006. It's hard for employees who worked for Douglas Aircraft Co. to see the commercial side come to an end. We do understand, but it still hurts.

I'm hoping that Boeing management will retain the large neon "Fly DC Jets" sign in Long Beach. It would be a great gesture on Boeing's part if our original sign is preserved somewhere.

--Linda McClendon, Long Beach, Calif.


The article in the February issue of Frontiers, "'Tis Better to Give," misstated the Matching Gift Program match limit for retirees, saying "Eligible Boeing retirees and their spouses or domestic partners can donate up to $3,000 per year and receive a match of 50 cents on the dollar." The item should have stated: Retirees and their spouses/domestic partners will receive a $.50 on-the-dollar match for contributions up to $6,000 per year to eligible organizations."

Letters guidelines

Boeing Frontiers provides its letters page for readers to state their opinions. The page is intended to encourage an exchange of ideas and information that stimulates dialogue on issues or events in the company or the aerospace industry. The opinions may not necessarily reflect those of The Boeing Company. Letters must include name, organization and a telephone number for verification purposes. Letters may be edited for grammar, syntax and size.

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