The Significance and Advantages of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft Essay Sample

The Significance and Advantages of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft Pages
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The commercial airline industry has always cycyled between boom and bust. Many airlines, since deregulation and the 1960s, have declared bankruptcy, and other airlines have merged together to cut costs. Aircraft fuel consumption and weight have a direct relationship with passenger ticket prices. Today, typical aircraft have been constructed with aluminum ever since the time that aircraft transformed from fabric to aluminum construction. The unveiling of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will fundamentally change how future aircraft will be constructed. As a result, Boeing 787 will weigh less and thus consume less fuel in order to significantly cut costs while generating increased profits.

The Significance of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

People have always yearned to fly in the sky like the birds. This fascination has been portrayed from mythology to fantasy, from fantasy to renaissance, until it was finally realized through the Wright brothers’ flight in the early 20th century. For thousands of years people tried and failed in flight but once a way was discovered, the world of aviation boomed. One company in particular has been on the leading edge of flight almost from the beginning: The Boeing Company. Now, around a century later, The Boeing Company is taking flight to a whole new level with the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner.

Unveiled on July 8, 2007, or 7-8-7 using the American date format, the 787 Dreamliner represents the future of passenger air travel for the world. It boasts advanced aviation systems, increased passenger comfort, better safety, ability for longer flights, reduced emissions, and increased fuel economy. Much of this is to the credit of using advanced composite materials throughout the aircraft.

Composite materials such as carbon fiber are significantly lighter in weight than aluminum but are also stronger. Aluminum is the most common material used on modern commercial aircraft. This great reduction in weight with the added strength allows The Boeing Company to bring to market an aircraft that is more fuel efficient than any of its competitors without losing out on comfort, safety, and passenger capacity.

Despite releasing the 787 concept in response to Airbus’ A380, the largest commercial aircraft ever built, The Boeing Company has shown it has a much better ear to market needs. The A380 generated a lot of interest because of its historical significance. Prior to both the A380 and the 787, Airbus had claimed the title of world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer. The Boeing Company had initially considered building a direct competitor to the A380, but market research showed that airline firms did not necessarily want an enormous aircraft. Rather it wanted an aircraft that was inexpensive to operate and would also be able to take a decent number of passengers a significant distance. The Boeing Company’s research into competing directly with the A380 also demonstrated how effective the use of composites would be for aircraft performance.

The Boeing Company’s dominate place in the global aviation industry had eroded over the last two decades of the 20th century due to the competition by Airbus. At its height The Boeing Company held a virtual global monopoly in commercial aviation through merging with American competitors and without a real threat in Europe. Europe responded by creating and heavily subsidizing Airbus in the 1960s. By the turn of the century Airbus was beating out The Boeing Company.

The 787 Dreamliner has allowed The Boeing Company to reclaim its title as world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer. When the specifics of the 787 Dreamliner were presented to the industry, airline firms quickly placed orders with The Boeing Company. The airline companies quickly saw how this new aircraft would help them reduce operation costs through better fuel efficiency, reduce the amount of maintenance needed, and reduce the number of interchangeable parts.

To meet demand and lower production costs The Boeing Company changed the process of manufacturing an airplane. Instead of building large manufacturing factory with thousands of employees and giant aircraft parts hanging overhead, The Boeing Company used an international automation process in the production of the 787 Dreamliner.

The use of composites allows the 787 Dreamliner to be made automatically by machine with labor needed primarily for supervision. To speed the turnover rate it outsourced the production of parts to international companies for the majority of the aircraft. These parts, once complete, are flown into The Boeing Company’s Everett plant and the aircraft is completed. It represents the future of aircraft production.

It has taken The Boeing Company almost a century to get to this point. There have been many highs and lows during that time. The Boeing Company has seen its aircraft help win a world war, put a person on the moon, and become the exclusive and undisputed leader in world aviation. It also has seen massive layoffs and its once reputed title striped away by a company less than half its age. The 787 Dreamliner is yet another example of The Boeing Company’s innovation as the 787 ushers in a new era of aircraft construction and performance.

The Boeing Company
Table 1: B & W Specifications
First flight: June 15, 1916
Model number: 1
Classification: Utility seaplane
Span: 52 feet
Length: 27 feet 6 inches
Gross weight: 2,800 pounds
Top speed: 75 mph
Cruising speed: 67 mph
Range: 320 miles
Power: 125-horsepower Hall-Scott A-5 engine
Accommodation: 2 crew

In June 1916 William Boeing and his friend and business partner Navy Lt. Conrad Westervelt finished building the B & W airplane which was a biplane and Boeing’s first product. Boeing and Westervelt decided to build the B & W to improve the biplanes that were currently on the market. The B & W had better pontoons and a more powerful engine than the current biplanes (Boeing, 2007). Westervelt and Boeing offered to sell the two new B & W biplanes to the US Navy, but the US Navy declined. The New Zealand Flying School bought the B & Ws, which were used to make the country’s first official airmail flight on December 16, 1919 (Boeing, 2007).

Before the completion of the B & W, Westervelt was transferred to the East coast. Losing Westervelt did not stop Boeing from continuing on with the production of the B & W or the creation of his airplane manufacturing company. On July 15, 1916, Boeing incorporated his company, Pacific Aero Products Company. In 1917, he changed the name to Boeing Airplane Company.

Today, The Boeing Company is the world’s leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft combined (Grant, 2006). Although the company was founded in California, it is currently headquartered in Chicago and employs more than 155,000 people in the United States and 67 other countries. The Boeing Company is organized into three business units: Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, and Boeing Capital Corporation (Grant, 2006). In 1997, The Boeing Company and McDonnell Douglas merged into a $54-billion-a-year aerospace company (Lind, 2006). The combined company serves customers in 145 countries and is the largest exporter in the United States.

1960s and 1970s Domination
Table 2: Minuteman Missile Specifications
First flight: Feb. 1, 1961
Military designation: LGM-30A/B/F/G
Classification: Intercontinental ballistic missile
Diameter: 6 feet
Length: • LGM-30A: 50 feet
• LGM-30B: 55 feet 9 inches
• LGM-30F: 59 feet
Weight at first-stage interstage: • LGM-30A/B: 65,000 pounds
• LGM-30F: 70,000 pounds
• LGM-30G: 76,000 pounds
Top speed: More than 15,000 mph
Range: More than 6,000 miles
Payload: Nuclear warhead
Power: Three solid-fuel rocket engines

Launcher dimensions: 80 feet deep, 12 feet in diameter; each site surface area 2 to 3 acres

In the aftermath of World War 2, The Boeing Company faced some challenges. After the war was over, the US military canceled its bomb orders and The Boeing Company was forced to shut down some of its factories and lay off 70,000 employees. During this time of crisis, William Allen took over The Boeing Company as president. Technologies, including computers, were being developed at a rapid speed and Allen knew that The Boeing Company had the scientists, technology, and resources to lead the United States into the new era.

The largest, longest, and most complex projects that The Boeing Company began building in 1958 was the Minuteman Missile. The Minuteman missile systems are long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage, intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying single or multiple nuclear warheads. These systems are operated by the United States Air Force Combat Command. By April 1967, 1,000 Minuteman missiles were operational and installed in six sites across the country (Boeing, 2007). The Minuteman project established The Boeing Company as a leader in managing complex systems and provided the company with much needed experience in propulsion and guidance systems. The Minuteman project paved the way for The Boeing Company to dominate the international commercial aircraft market during the 1960s and 1970s.

Table 3: 747 Specifications
First flight: Feb. 9, 1969
Model number: 747-100/-200
Classification: Commercial transport
Span: 195 feet 8 inches
Length: 231 feet 4 inches
Gross weight: 735,000 pounds
Cruising speed: 640 mph
Range: 6,000 miles
Ceiling: 45,000 feet
Power: Four 43,000-pound-thrust P&W JT9D-3 engines
Accommodation: 33 attendants, 374 to 490 passengers

In 1961, The Boeing Company provided NASA with overall systems integration for the entire Apollo project. The Apollo project was started by President John F. Kennedy, and sent nine expeditions to the moon between 1969 and 1972 (Boeing, 2007). As part of the Apollo project, The Boeing Company built the Lunar Orbiters that circled the moon and took pictures, the Lunar Roving Vehicle that allowed astronauts to explore the moon, and the S-1C stage of the Saturn V launch rocket which was the largest rocket booster produced in the United States. By July 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first human to step on to the surface of the moon.

1969 was also the year that The Boeing Company made aviation history by building the 747 for the commercial airline market. The 747 was the largest civilian airplane in the world (Boeing, 2007). The Boeing Company created the 747 in order to meet the demands of crowded skies and airports as air passenger traffic increased. The final design of the 747 was offered to customers in three different configurations: all passenger, all cargo, and a convertible passenger/cargo model (Boeing, 2007). Due to the size of the 747, pilots were trained to fly these large planes at the Boeing Training School and practiced taxiing the large plane in the Waddell’s Wagon, which was built by Jack Waddell who was Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot.

At the beginning of the 1970s, The Boeing Company began to experience a decrease in sales and went 18 months without a single new domestic airplane order (Boeing, 2007). Due to the decline in space-related business and in commercial aircraft sales, The Boeing Company started marketing the electronic technologies it had developed over the years. In 1970, Boeing Computer Services was created as an independent subsidiary of The Boeing Company. By 1973 Boeing Computer Services had developed five commercial products that included BCS/Mainstream. The BCS/Mainstream is a time-sharing computer service that was used by 148 government and commercial customers (Boeing, 2007).

Boeing Computer Services used an IBM 360 Machine to produced machine control data (MCD) that was stored on punched tape. The Information Management System (IMS) was used to program the MCD database. Data was transmitted to the machine shop tools by a computer over the local networks. Boeing Computer Services developed a database for machine-tool instructions for airplane parts and version numbers in the late 1970s. By 1980, the data was transmitted by internal networks of manufacturing plants. The IMS was used to program this new database, which was called the Direct Numerical Control database. Boeing Computer Service installed integrated office systems throughout The Boeing Company to complement computer-aided manufacturing. Boeing Computer Service also developed a companywide communications network for The Boeing Company.

The Boeing Company diversified its business during the 1970s. In addition to creating Boeing Computer Service, Boeing Engineering and Construction was started in 1974. Boeing Engineering and Construction developed wind turbines in the Columbia River Gorge, developed a process to fertilize crops in the desert near Boardman, Oregon with Portland’s municipal solid waste, built a desalination system for a resort in the Virgin Islands, sold portable asphalt plants, developed control systems for dams, created voice scramblers for police departments, built microwave landing aids for airplanes, and built homes in Seattle, Washington for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to these diversification efforts, Boeing continued to market its commercial airplanes and continued working on key defense and space programs.

The commercial airline industry experienced an upswing in business during 1978. Domestic flight sales were increasing rapidly. In 1978 Boeing announced it would design and build two new commercial airplanes, the 757 and the 767. Both airplanes were designed to be more fuel efficient and reduce noise. By 1980, The Boeing Company had successfully pulled through the recession and was positioned to once again dominate the commercial airline industry.

Operations research

The Boeing Company has an extensive operations research program which is managed under The Boeing Engineering, Operations, and Technology group. There are several operations research groups within Boeing Engineering, Operations, and Technology that support The Boeing Company’s business units and growth strategies (Boeing, 2007).

Boeing Engineering, Operations, and Technology develops new strategic programs, provides innovative technology and process solutions, has transformed Boeing into a global network-centric enterprise, enhances and protects the company’s intellectual capital, and fosters a culture of innovation within The Boeing Company. Boeing Engineering, Operations, and Technology is divided into three groups: Phantom Works, Intellectual Property Management, and Information Technology. Phantom Works is the main research and develop unit for The Boeing Company. This extensive operations research program ensures the success of The Boeing Company in the future.

Phantom Works

Phantom Works is the advanced research and development unit of Boeing Engineering, Operations, and Technology (Boeing, 2007). The main purpose of Phantom Works is to provide advanced systems solutions and technologies that will improve the quality of the products and services offered by The Boeing Company. Phantom Works directly supports The Boeing Company’s commercial, defense, and communications business units as well as external customers including NASA, DOD, and FAA. Phantom Works is divided into two main types of teams: advanced systems and advanced technologies.

The advanced systems teams focus on addressing new business markets, while the advanced technologies teams provide engineering, information and manufacturing technologies that are needed by The Boeing Company’s other business units (Boeing, 2007). In order to develop top quality technologies that will maximize efficiency at The Boeing Company, Phantom Works collaborates with internal business units, external customers, universities, research agencies, and other high tech companies.

One of the most important teams within the Phantom Works unit of Boeing Engineering, Operations, and Technology is the Mathematics and Engineering Analysis group, internally known as The Boeing Math Group. The Boeing Math Group is a group of mathematicians and engineers who directly support Boeing’s internal business units. The projects that The Boeing Math Group focuses on are technically advanced and challenging (Grant, 2006). The Boeing Math Group provides operations research for new products (specifically, the 787 Dreamliner), air transportation modeling, systems technologies, spares and inventory management, and data fusion, tracking, and sensor location (Grant, 2006).

Currently, The Boeing Math Group is collaborating with other internal business units at The Boeing Company in order to develop the 787 Dreamliner. The 787 Dreamliner is being assembled in Everett, Washington and will enter into service in 2008. The 787 Dreamliner will be available in three different models: 787-3, 787-8, and 787-9. The Boeing Math Group conducted choice modeling analysis to determine that The Boeing Company should focus on developing an airplane that was more efficient rather than a faster sonic cruiser (Grant, 2006). The Boeing Math Group also performed simulations and experimental design and analysis of data to address the issue of passenger comfort. The interior cabin of the 787 Dreamliner will have a higher humidity level than other airplanes in order to increase passenger comfort. Mathematicians from The Boeing Math Group are working to develop the most optimal structure needed to build the most efficient airplane in the industry.

Achieving R&D leadership

The Boeing Company has always strived to make their business more competitive and ensure success in the future. In 1997, The Boeing Company set out to be the industry leader by running a healthy core business and ensuring its future growth (Swain, 2007). The Phantom Works unit (also known as The Boeing Company’s Research and Development Department) developed a strategic framework in order to accomplish the objectives set forth by The Boeing Company. At the center of this strategic framework was innovation.

In order to improve innovation, Phantom Works concentrated on creating teams of people that would want to be innovated and willing to take risks. Phantom Works considered managing these teams of people as the driving force behind improving innovation. The Boeing Company utilized a variety of techniques in order to effectively manage its employees. The key techniques still in effect today are education opportunities, recognition programs, challenging work assignments, lessons learned, and frequent, open, honest communication.

The Boeing Company spends over $80 million a year in advanced educational programs for its employees (Swain, 2007). The Boeing Company operates Learning Centers across the country which offers employees the opportunity to learn through a variety of media which includes textbooks, audiocassettes, videotapes, CD-ROMS, and educational websites. Offering educational opportunities in this way allows employees to take advantage of these opportunities when it is convenient for them to do so. In addition to the Learning Centers, The Boeing Company offers Off-Hour Training Programs that provide employees with educational training in aviation, CATIA, communications, computing, engineering, industrial, math, production, and retirement planning among other courses.

The Learning Together Program allows employees to attend accredited colleges and have some of the expenses paid for by The Boeing Company. Under this program an employee who finishes a degree program becomes eligible for Boeing stock awards. The Boeing Company also offers the On-Hour Training Program which provides training to employees that is imperative to the successful completion of their jobs. By establishing education opportunities, recognition programs, challenging work assignments, an avenue for sharing lessons learned, and frequent, open, and honest communications between managers and their staff, The Boeing Company has set the stage for success in improving innovation.

The Phantom Works strategy for innovation encompasses the managing techniques established by The Boeing Company and utilizes these techniques in managing the research and development teams that are a part of Phantom Works. Phantom Works also established a process in which the teams were told to find improvements that would enhance a project by 50% or risk not having that project funded. This process opened the door for innovation and learning from failure. Phantom Works also recognized that achieving success in research and development did not only come from within, but that external relationships needed to be established with universities and the United States government. By establishing closer relationships with external entities, Phantom Works introduced a concept of asking before doing, not only within The Boeing Company but outside of the company and across various industries as well.

The goal of the Phantom Works strategy for improving innovation was to enhance the performance of the business units within The Boeing Company. Phantom Works established itself as The Boeing Company’s innovation catalyst. Phantom Works become the link between the business units. For example, if the commercial aircraft unit knew things that would help the defense unit, Phantom Works would gather the data and distribute it accordingly.

Phantom Works constructed research and development facilities across the globe in order to collaborate with people from different countries and develop the most innovative products. The research and development facilities in Russia, Spain, and other countries have different needs and expertise in different areas. For this reason each facility is connected to each other and to Phantom Works in order to maintain full collaboration. The primary purpose in collaborating innovation strategies across the globe is to share results in each technical area and learn from successes and failures.

Utilizing a lessons-learned technique in managing the research and development teams has made The Boeing Company a leader in its industry. By evaluating past successes and failures, Phantom Works has been able to improve innovation drastically. One of the practices that Phantom Works changed as a result of the lessons-learned technique was designing a product prior to designing the factory that produced that product. Phantom Works realized that this method was impairing productivity and during the Delta-4 launch program decided to design the factory first, and then design the product (Swain, 2007).

Phantom Works also instituted automatic numerical control, and developed a set of practices for program management that were a direct result of collaboration with the defense unit through the F-18 program. The best practices used in the F-18 program have been integrated throughout all of the Phantom Works projects and audit groups have been established to ensure that the best practices are being used and resulting in successful completion of top quality projects. The audit groups ensure that the research and development teams are adequately trained and managed, and that each team comprehends their assignment.

When innovative technologies have been discovered they are either used in the creation of new products or transitioned into existing products. Transitioning innovative technologies into existing products is not easy, but will lead to success in the end (Swain, 2007). Innovative technologies were integrated into the C-17, an airplane that had abilities that other airplanes did not have, but was too expensive. Integrated these new technologies into the C-17 reduced the cost of the airplane by $20 million per airplane (Swain, 2007).

The airplane was primarily used by the United States Air Force and the cost reduction was much appreciated. Through the innovative strategies of Phantom Works, many affordable solutions have been developed including the Future Combat System, a remotely controlled vehicle called Scan Eagle, and a space service station called Orbital Express. The new technologies developed by Phantom Works are currently being used to build the new 787 Dreamliner which The Boeing Company hopes to make the most successful airplane of the future (Swain, 2007).

The research and development efforts of Phantom Works have yielded tremendous results for The Boeing Company. The Future Combat Systems has opened the door for defense unit of The Boeing Company to assist in reshaping how the Army does business. The 787 Dreamliner is The Boeing Company’s newest airplane and is currently being built with new innovative technologies developed by Phantom Works. The 787 Dreamliner is the largest-selling aircraft in history during development (Swain, 2007).

The Boeing Company has achieved research and development leadership in its industry by concentrating on the development of innovative technologies and increasing its research and development efforts. Phantom Works developed an innovation strategy that centered on the right people in the right jobs. Each team within Phantom Works looks to past successes and failures when developing new technologies.

The mathematicians and engineers who work on the teams within Phantom Works collaborate with each other, The Boeing Company’s internal business units, and a variety of external sources to create a collection of ideas for new technologies. Each team manager is trained to lead the teams in the same direction that The Boeing Company as a whole is headed, reward the team members for a job well done, and take full responsibility for team failures. By centering its innovation strategy on the people involved, Phantom Works has made The Boeing Company an industry leader.

Prelude to the Dreamliner

With Airbus’ announcement of the A380, the largest commercial aircraft ever, The Boeing Company needed a strong response. The Boeing Company proposed several ideas to offer a competitive aircraft. The first of these was the 747X in 2000. Essentially the 747X is just an elongated version of a standard 747. With the hype regarding the A380 Boeing felt it needed a direct competitor to the large, long-range super jumbo from Airbus. However, The Boeing Company’s market research disagreed. Interest in the larger aircraft was not as much as anticipated. Their research uncovered that Airbus, with the A380, was chasing only 5-10% of the market share, hardly a large market segment considering the billions needed to produce the aircraft(Michaels, 2006). The Boeing Company had estimated $5 billion to make the 747X.

The Boeing Company’s next concept aircraft to compete with Airbus was the Sonic Cruiser, also dubbed Boeing 20XX. The Sonic Cruise was a radically different design than standard commercial aircraft in that is looked more like a Concorde than a standard Boeing or Airbus. The Boeing Company decided that instead of competing directly with size it would design an aircraft that has less than half the capacity of the A380 but would travel just shy of the speed of sound.

This speed translated into a travel time 20% faster than convention commercial aircraft. The drawback was it burned fuel 15-20% faster. The Boeing Company estimated that the net result would be the same fuel costs because although the Sonic Cruiser burned fuel faster, it arrived at its destination faster. Unfortunately, no interest was given to an aircraft that would fly marginally faster. However, the Sonic Cruiser would lay the foundation for what would become The Boeing Company’s newest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.

Market research into the 747X and the Sonic Cruiser showed The Boeing Company that the market did not care much for super jumbos or super fast aircraft. What the market demanded was an aircraft that would provide low operational costs but would also attract passengers. Airline companies also were shifting away from hub-and-spoke style flight paths and more into point-to-point flights. The A380 was designed more for hub-and-spoke in that it would take a large number of passengers to a single location where they would take connector flights to their final destination. By developing a medium-sized aircraft it capitalized on this want for point-to-point.

Concept designs of the Sonic Cruiser also helped with another aspect that the market was looking for: light-weight aircraft. For the Sonic Cruiser to fly at speeds near the speed of sound, the aircraft needed to adopt technology that would make it lighter. The market rejected the idea of faster aircraft but The Boeing Company realized that the technology could be made to make an aircraft more fuel efficient (Boeing, 2003).

The 787 Dreamliner

The Boeing Company named the development replacement for the Sonic Cruiser the 7E7. A sweepstakes vote to “name your plane” for The Boeing Company employees was completed to come up with a name for the new aircraft. “787 Dreamliner” won by a margin of 2500 amongst a vote tally of 500,000 votes worldwide (Boeing Frontiers Online, 2003).

Interest was very high for the 787 Dreamliner in contrast to the low interest in both the 747X and the Sonic Cruiser. By June 2004, All Nippon Airways, a Japanese airline company, ordered 50 787 Dreamliners to be delivered by the end of 2008 (Boeing, 2004). With production beginning to falter with the A380, The Boeing Company’s future with the 787 Dreamliner was starting to look really good.

The appeal of the 787 Dreamliner is in how it addresses many of the concerns that both airline companies and passengers have in regards to flying. The Boeing Company deviated from its standard aluminum aircraft and designed an aircraft that was made of composite materials such as carbon fiber, epoxy and plastic (Boeing, 2007). Prior to the 787 Dreamliner commercial aircraft used some composites, but the 787 Dreamliner was the first attempt using composites for 50% of the aircraft’s weight. By volume, composites comprise 80% of the aircraft (Boeing, 2007). Using composites on this scale before had been deemed too expensive but The Boeing Company was able to demonstrate the huge cost advantages of this design.

The use of composites translates into a significant increase in fuel efficiency of the aircraft. The Boeing Company boasts that the 787 Dreamliner will use “20% less fuel than in similar-sized planes” (Tolinski, 2006). With fuel costs soaring out of sight, the 787 Dreamliner promises a reduction in fuel costs for the same routes. This reduction also means a reduction in emissions from the aircraft. Combined with the low-emission engines, the 787 Dreamliner can safely state that it will remain well below any governmental emission regulation (Rolls-Royce, 2007). For airline companies, it assures them that they will not need to worry about that aspect of this aircraft.

The engines themselves are also features for the 787 Dreamliner. Instead of one engine contract, The Boeing Company designed the 787 Dreamliner to be compatible with two different types of engines. The contracts went out to two industry-trusted and proven companies: General Electric (GE) and Rolls-Royce. Both companies are very well known engine manufacturers and both are widely used by airline companies. Airline companies now can choose an engine that is best suited for the airline. Some companies are familiar with Rolls-Royce engines and have employees familiar with the engines. The same goes for General Electric engines. This feature also makes resale values for the aircraft increase because the engines can be easily replaced with the other type of engine.

The composites also allow for passenger comfort. Aluminum aircraft have the disadvantage of corrosion. The reason for the dry air in the cabin is to avoid corrosion. With a fuselage made up of almost entirely composites, the humidity in the cabin can be increased. The 787 Dreamliner also boasts larger overhead storage and more leg room (West, 2007).

Three Variations

The Boeing Company is offering the aircraft in three different models. The 787-3 model is designed to take more passengers shorter distances. This configuration can hold as many as 330 passengers, the most of any of the designs. It can fly only about 3000 nautical miles (NM) which is less than half the other two models. The wingspan is at least 30 feet shorter than the other models. This model is designed for short flights between large cities. The Boeing Company believes that this is the trend in aviation so the 787-3 is designed specifically for this type of flight. The reason for its short distance is not because of a low fuel capacity but rather because of its low take-off weight. However, since many airports charge landing fees based on aircraft weight this can be an advantage to carriers with the shorter flights.

The 787-8 has an increased flight distance by over double at around 8200 NM but loses almost 100 passengers. It is the same length as the 787-3 but its wingspan is almost 30 feet longer. This will be the first in the 787 Dreamliner class to actually enter service and it has received the most orders out of all the three classes. The Boeing Company wants to use this model to phase out the 767 (Boeing, 2006).

The largest model is the 787-9. Its wingspan is 208 feet, longer than the 747-300 and can travel 8500 NM. It also carries 290 passengers and can haul more weight than the other two models. The aircraft is also 20 feet longer than the other two. This aircraft is essentially a longer version of the 787-8 with a longer wingspan. Its extended range allows it to fly from New York to the Philippines non-stop and will have the lowest seat per mile cost of all three models. Orders for this model have been slow because of its late release date of 2010 (Boeing 2007).

Table 4: 787 Specifications 787-3 787-8 787-9
Seating 290-330 210-250 250-290
Range (nautical miles) 2500-3050 7650-8200 8000-8500
Configuration Twin aisle Twin aisle Twin aisle
Cross Section (inches) 226 226 226
Wing Span (feet) 170 197 208
Length (feet) 186 186 206
Height (feet) 56 56 56
Cruise Speed (mach) 0.85 0.85 0.85
Max. Takeoff Weight (lbs) 364,000 484,000 540,000
Total Cargo Volume (cubic feet) 4,400 4,400 5,400

The Boeing Company has hinted at a 787-10. This aircraft would supersede the design specification of the 777 and would compete with any of the Airbus models except the A380 in distance and capacity. Although this design is only rumor several countries have already expressed interest (Boeing, 2007).

The Boeing Company rolled out its first 787 on July 8, 2007. On the American calendar this is 7/8/7. Although much of the internal components of the aircraft were missing the debut was a success in showing off the new aircraft. As for December 18, 2007 a firm 317 orders have been made for the 787 Dreamliner (Boeing, 2007). The current price is anywhere between $146 million and $200 million. At the current number of orders The Boeing Company is looking at revenue of between $46.3 billion and $63.4 billion.

Although some delays have prolonged the initial rollout of a production aircraft The Boeing Company is still anticipating producing 109 aircraft in the next two years. The eventual goal is to rollout 16 planes per month (Trimble, 2007).

The Boeing Company is hoping its global manufacturing effort will aid in its goal of 16 aircraft per month. To develop the 787 Dreamliner The Boeing Company turned to a world-wide group to determine the best way to develop the new aircraft. Although the final assembly is done in Everett, Washington most of the aircraft is built is many other locations around the world. This is the first time that The Boeing Company has relied upon its global partners to build the majority of the aircraft (Seattle Times, 2007).

Aside from Everett, there are three other major facilities: Wichita, Kansas, Gottaglie, Italy, and Nagoya, Japan. The Italian facility receives landing gear and cargo doors from facilities in England and Sweden respectfully. It assembles those parts along with fabricating the majority of the fuselage. Japan receives parts from China and South Korea.

It also receives the leading edges of the wings from Tulsa, Oklahoma there the wings are assembles and shipped to Everett. One-third of the aircraft is built in the Japanese facilities with an investment from those firms around $2 billion (Pritchard & MacPherson, 2005). There are also parts flown in from Australia, France and Canada. Building this aircraft is truly a world-wide effort (Seattle Times, 2007). Although there have been some delays The Boeing Company believes that through the use of composites and the world-wide manufacturing effort it will be able to produce 787s quickly and efficiently.

Competition: Lockheed

Following World War II, several American aircraft manufacturers posed as competition to The Boeing Company. At this time most of the competition outside of the United States was non-existent. Although The Boeing Company itself did not hold a monopoly at this time, American aircraft manufacturers did.

Lockheed was one of the American manufacturers. In the mid-1950s it developed the first turboprop-driven aircraft in America for American Airlines called the L-188 Electra. The Electra was the next generation to Lockheed’s famous Constellation. Turbojet technology made the Electra almost obsolete immediately. Nevertheless 170 aircraft were built. Unfortunately confidence in the aircraft’s safety was questioned after several fatal accidents. Civilian production was cut but the military adopted the aircraft under the name Orion (Lockheed-Martin, 2007).

Lockheed did build some smaller aircraft but for its next airliner it developed the L-1011 TriStar (PBS, 2007). The objective of this aircraft was to be smaller than the 747 but able to fly great distances with a large number of passengers. American Airlines approached both Lockheed and Douglas (later McDonnell-Douglas). Douglas built the DC-10 and Lockheed built the L-1011 TriStar. Unfortunately for Lockheed, American Airlines purchased the DC-10s. Engine supplier Rolls-Royce contributed to this by having manufacturing issues with the TriStar’s engines.

This caused a huge delay and Douglas was able to get its DC-10 out first. The issues were so bad with Rolls-Royce they ended up declaring bankruptcy. This halted production entirely on the TriStar until a subsidy from the British government for Rolls-Royce and loans back by the American government to Lockheed restarted the program. By then it was too late for the TriStar (PBS, 2007).

Despite some safety issues with the DC-10 it still outsold the TriStar 2-to-1. The delays in engine manufacturing allowed Douglas to use improved General Electric engines for its intercontinental flights further eating into Lockheed’s market share. Sales were so bad that Lockheed officials bribed some members of the Japanese government in exchange for subsidizing ANA’s purchase of the L-1011. No criminal charges were brought against Lockheed but it did result in the resignation of its board chairman and vice chairman. However, the Prime Minister of Japan was found guilty of violated foreign trade laws. Lockheed determined it needed to sell 500 aircraft, but it sold only half that number. The fiasco of the TriStar forced Lockheed to exit the commercial aircraft industry for good (PBS, 2007).

Competition: McDonnell-Douglas

McDonnell-Douglas was a fierce competitor of The Boeing Company’s through much of the cold war. Although it never reached the market share The Boeing Company had, it did develop solid aircraft that competed against The Boeing Company successfully. Originally this company was two different companies: Douglas Aircraft and McDonnell Aircraft but later merged in 1967 (Boeing, 2007).

Douglas Aircraft had found success in military contracts during World War II. When the war was over, Douglas was forced to layoff 100,000 workers. Its first post-war success was with an aircraft originally designed as a military transport, the DC-6. After the war, Douglas reconfigured the aircraft so it could compete against the successful Lockheed Constellation. The four-engine prop had a few early problems but were eventually fixed. The aircraft would eventually get the reputation as a superb aircraft. Douglas built another prop-driven aircraft, the DC-7, but it debuted around the time of the jet engine. This made its production life short. Despite this it still sold 348 aircraft (Boeing, 2007).

At the time of The Boeing Company 707 jet-propulsion many of the other aircraft manufacturers believed the jet area would gradually come. The Boeing Company rejected that notion and developed the 707, first as a military aircraft and eventually as a commercial airliner. Douglas’ response was to develop the DC-8. At the time it was the most expensive endeavor by a single company ever. Despite an aggressive campaign and even becoming the first civilian airliner to break the sound barrier, The Boeing Company’s 707 still outsold the DC-8 every year. As a result, Douglas was forced to merge with McDonnell to survive (Boeing, 2007).

Under McDonnell-Douglas the company released the DC-10 in 1970. It was designed to be smaller than The Boeing Company’s 747 but be able to fly the same distance was a lot of passengers, the same specifications given to Lockheed for the L-1011. The tri-engine aircraft was a success against the Lockheed L-1011, eventually kicking Lockheed out of the commercial airline business. Production ended for the DC-10 in 1988 with 386 deliverables to commercial airliners (Boeing, 2007).

By the early 1980s, McDonnell-Douglas was re-engineering some of its old aircraft. By upgrading and stretching the DC-9, McDonnell-Douglas began producing the MD-80. Late that decade the MD-90, an upgrade of the MD-80 was released. These aircraft were to compete against the Airbus A320 and The Boeing Company’s 737 (Boeing, 2007).

McDonnell-Douglas’ last breath came with a study on a double-decker aircraft that they released, designated the MD-12. The double-decker design was announced in 1992 and looked very similar to the modern Airbus A380. Although many in the aviation world were excited at the concept no one believed that McDonnell-Douglas could produce such an aircraft. Consequently, despite heavy marketing, no orders were made (Boeing, 2007).

As a result, McDonnell-Douglas could no longer compete against the two giants that remained: Airbus and The Boeing Company. In 1997, McDonnell-Douglas merged with The Boeing Company. McDonnell-Douglas’ MD-95 was renamed the Boeing 717 and The Boeing Company changed its logo to incorporate some aspects of McDonnell-Douglas’ logo (Boeing, 2007).
Competition: Airbus

Today, the commercial aircraft manufacturing industry is compromised of a duopoly, The Boeing Company and Airbus. Both companies rely heavily on government subsidies to complete with each other and to remain the overwhelmingly dominant corporations in this industry. Prior to Airbus, the American commercial aircraft manufacturers, led by The Boeing Company, had a firm dominance in the world market. This was an embarrassment to the tiny European corporations trying to compete. This was to change in 1967 when French, German, and British governments announced their intent to form a European consortium to build commercial aircraft. The governments stated the agreement was “for the purpose of strengthening European co-operation in the field of aviation technology and thereby promoting economic and technological progress in Europe, to take appropriate measures for the joint development and production of an Airbus” (Airbus, 2007).

Prior to Airbus, there was one other joint-European venture in aviation: the Concorde. British and French governments joined together to develop the supersonic aircraft. This was in response to what Charles de Gaulle called the “American colonization of the skies” (Francis & Pevzner, 2006). Unfortunately, the Concorde program was not the success Europe was hoping for. Twenty aircraft were built at a huge loss (Concorde 2007). Much of Europe blamed the United States for its lack of success. At the time only 16 aircraft were permitted to land in the United States thus sustaining the American dominance in the industry (Francis & Pevzner, 2006).

The setback of the Concorde did not reduce any feelings for wanting European dominance in aviation. If anything, it only strengthens their resolve. French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac went as far as saying they “will not be daunted by the Americans who killed off the Concorde. …We will fight any trade war blow-by-blow as the future of aeronautical industry and their employees is at stake” (Francis & Pevzner, 2006). At this time The Boeing Company represented the strongest competition along with Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas. Their solution was to form a consortium of aeronautical manufacturing companies from different nations that would have heavy government subsidies.

The Governments’ Memorandum of Understanding was signed in September 1967 was the formal start of the A300 project (Airbus, 2007). Originally Germany would develop a quarter of the aircraft with France and England dividing the remainder equally. The A300 would be powered by Rolls-Royce engines and Sud Aviation was declared the lead company (Flight International, 1997). This cooperative agreement would be short lived.

The Memorandum of Understanding required that 75 A300 aircraft orders were needed by the end of July 1968. This posed as a problem because the airline industry was not interested in the 300-seat aircraft. With sales not meeting expectations both France and England openly expressed concerns about the consortium’s future. To appease market requests, a 250-seat aircraft design was submitted and the 300-seat was dropped. Originally called the A250, this aircraft would later become the Airbus A300B, the first twin-engine wide body commercial aircraft in the world (Airbus, 2007).

The new 250-seat aircraft design had significantly lower developmental costs than the 300-seat aircraft because it utilized an existing engine technology rather than contracting Rolls-Royce to develop a new engine. Most of the development costs of the aircraft were related to the engine development (Flight International, 1997). The decision was also done to lure American companies to buy aircraft. Rather than use Rolls-Royce, engines were purchased from General Electric that were already in use in the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10. This move upset the British who were already skeptical about the consortium’s success and withdrew from the agreement in April 1969 (Flight International, 1997). However, they were still given privileged vendor status because of how much development had been done on the wings and a reluctance of France and Germany to pick up on the wing development (Flight International, 1997).

By the time the A300B had its maiden flight in 1972 only 15 orders for the aircraft were made. By the end of the decade only 81 were in service (Flight International, 1997). This could have very well spelled the end of Airbus. Eight-one orders in the nine years since it was officially name Airbus Industries did not exactly make it a major competitor. There was some measure of success with the A300B. At the time the A300B was introduced, Lockheed introduced its L-1011. Both had similar budgets and were comparable aircraft.

Although Lockheed sold more initially, the end result was roughly the same amount sold. Despite this, Airbus went on to develop new aircraft. Lockheed, reeling from $10 million loss per aircraft made, withdrew from the commercial aircraft industry (Francis & Pevzner, 2006). This small victory showed that Airbus could sustain itself although at the time many questioned that “the consortium’s viability as a commercial force seemed at risk” (Francis & Pevzner, 2006). With its next model Airbus would find itself as a major powerhouse in the commercial aircraft industry.

The Boeing 727 held the prestigious title of world’s most popular aircraft at the time designs for the Airbus A320 began in the 1970s. The Boeing Company also had the 737 in production which was steadily increasing its sales. Airbus needed to design an aircraft that would respond to the high demand for the Boeing aircrafts. It also wanted to address a growing problem that The Boeing Company had not anticipated, increasing oil prices. During the 1970s oil prices fluctuated heavy and in 1973 and 1979 had reach premium prices. Airbus realized that not only did it need to develop an aircraft that could compete with The Boeing Company, but develop one that would surpass it technologically. In particular, design an aircraft that would take advantage of the latest fuel-saving technologies available.

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