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Air Force One, the blue-and-white icon of U.S. super power, has been all-Boeing during the jet age.
Starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, a succession of special Boeing 707s served eight U.S. presidents. One of those airplanes today is parked at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
In 1990, with President George H.W. Bush in office, two Boeing 747-200Bs replaced the 707s. They were built in Everett and outfitted in Wichita, Kan.
Friday, one of them flies home to Paine Field, carrying President Barack Obama for an Everett factory visit and speech. Boeing Field in Seattle is the usual destination of U.S. presidents, so this will be the first time in 19 years that one of the planes has returned to the factory of its birth while carrying a president.
Air Force One is a flying White House, with 4,000 square feet of floor space for up to 102 people, secure communication systems and medical facilities. In a pinch, surgery can be performed. These 747-200Bs have a range of 7,800 statute miles, but just in case, they can be refueled during flight.
The 747 isn’t the only Boeing plane flying U.S. VIPs. Modified 757s serve cabinet members, the first lady, the vice president and, occasionally, the president.
And Boeing hopes to provide the next generation of Air Force One. The Air Force says new planes will be needed in the latter half of this decade. The aviation trade press has reported that the company would like to offer the new Boeing 747-8 or even the 787, the assembly line of which Obama will tour Friday.
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As Air France-KLM prepares to roll out the initial elements of a turnaround plan for Air France, the airline group confirms that it has closed its deal with Boeing for 25 787s, of which KLM will be the initial operator, starting in 2016. The airline group also has 25 787s on option.
Air France-KLM confirmed the airline group is the unidentified customer for 25 787-9s listed in Boeing’s order book when the airframer disclosed annual figures last week. Air France also will operate the 787, although at a yet-to-be-set date. An engine decision is pending.
Air France-KLM announced its intention to buy both the 787 and the Airbus A350 in September. An airline official says that talks are under way to finalize the firm order for 25 Airbus A350s. Those talks involve both Airbus and Rolls-Royce, the sole engine supplier.
The 787 order confirmation comes in what could be a pivotal week for Air France, with a board meeting likely on Thursday to set into motion the first elements of a turnaround plan under new CEO Alexandre de Juniac. The executive previously said the plan would involve a two-stage process, the first of which would focus on bolstering the existing cost-savings plan.
Decisions on a wider reorganization, aimed at reducing the airline’s debt level, boosting its short- and medium-haul performance and stepping up its overall competitiveness are not expected to emerge until June because of the need to coordinate with labor groups.
Boeing now holds 305 orders for the long-range 787-9 and 555 for the standard 787-8.
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Boeing Training and Flight Services has been working nearly as long on the preparation for training 787 pilots, maintenance technicians and cabin crew as the aircraft itself has been in gestation.
Now Boeing’s purpose-designed, almost paperless 787 instruction system, married with completely integrated training suites to take pilots through classroom to full flight simulator, are already preparing technical crews and management pilots for the launch customer, All Nippon Airways. ANA expects to put its aircraft into service in about August 2012.
Customers for the aircraft can choose from five locations out of Boeing’s 18 worldwide “campuses” that already operate 787 training suites. These include Seattle, Singapore, Tokyo, London Gatwick and Shanghai, and they will operate a total of eight full-flight simulators between them. They also have cabin door and cabin systems simulators for flight attendant training.
“The innovations of the 787 Dreamliner don’t end with the airplane itself,” explains Sherry Carbary, vice-president Boeing Flight Services. “Boeing is changing the game through continued innovation in our advanced suite of training technologies.”
The integrated suite of electronic training devices that Carbary refers to was designed by Thales to a Boeing specification. It starts with a fully wired classroom where pilots and technicians can learn about the aircraft systems at the same time as familiarising themselves with the laptop/tablet/electronic flight bag with which they will work on the line or in the hangar. These are plugged into the classroom network so the instructor can monitor students’ progress.
Following the classroom stage, technicians and pilots progress to the flight training device, which is powered by the same software, where they can familiarise themselves with the flightdeck equipment and controls, and become adept at systems manipulation, but at a fraction of the cost of learning in a full-flight simulator.
It is a fixed-base device, but has moving controls and throttles, working flight instruments, engine and systems displays, so it can “fly”. Multipurpose display screens above the instrument panel coaming can be selected to show simulated external visual cues, including the head-up displays that are superimposed on the external view.
For the flightcrew, the final step in the Thales training suite is the full-flight simulator from which, depending on their experience, pilots can emerge with a zero flight time 787 type rating.
Carbary comments: “By bringing this cutting-edge training directly to airlines in the regions of the world where they’re based and serve their passengers, we’re offering our customers flexibility and efficiency in flightcrew training.”
She is not talking only about pilots, cabin crew and systems maintenance technicians. One of the 787′s unique points is the extent to which composite materials are used in the airframe. It is the first large passenger aircraft for which the fuselage is entirely composite, so Boeing has had to prepare training for customers’ engineers in how to repair composite materials.
Back to the classroom for a moment: when they first start instruction, mechanics and pilots both learn about aircraft systems using the same tools they will use at work. This is a new experience, with the potential to be highly effective in imparting systems knowledge and consolidating understanding.
The “manuals” are contained in an identical laptop/tablet/electronic flight bag, the same one used by each of the specialisations on the line. Pilots as well as technicians learn to use the tablets for diagnostics and repair. On-screen graphics can, in virtual reality, walk the student through the process of system diagnostics, and the geographical process of identifying a faulty line replaceable unit, locating it, and the removal and replacement process. It would enable a pilot on a diversion caused by a faulty box to diagnose which one it was, and if a replacement was available, the pilots would have a demonstration of how to fit and test it.
Another simple advantage of having all the manuals contained in a Toshiba tablet is that the students’ traditional flight bags are less heavy; and they can take the computers back to their rooms to practise what they have learned.
Boeing explains its training suite like this: “The use of real-time simulation in the maintenance training environment allows practice on the same tools in the classroom that the mechanics use on the actual aircraft. Desktop simulation is integrated into the classroom and throughout the course. “Additionally, a 3D virtual airplane is used where students can walk around the aeroplane and operate key functions.” That would include walking around the aircraft exterior to locate the access hatch, opening it by operating the fasteners, and climbing inside to find the equipment that needed attention.
The 787 flight training device, according to Boeing, “provides flightcrews with the same flight management and control systems as the full-flight simulator, making it ideal for instrument familiarisation and reinforcing knowledge of airplane systems. It develops proficiency in all normal procedures, simple non-normal procedures, the flight management system, auto-flight operations, and display operations. It also includes electronic flight bags and head-up displays, and enables flightcrews to become familiar with complex non-normal procedures.”
When the pilots are familiar with flight routines and systems operation from their use of the flight training device, they move to the full-flight simulator to become familiar with the 787 in normal flight operations. Boeing explains: “It includes dual heads-up displays and the class 3 EFB. The line-oriented simulation training verifies proficiency in normal procedures. The simulator is designed to train pilots to become proficient in visual manoeuvres, instrument landing system and non-ILS approaches, missed approaches using integrated approach navigation, non-normal procedures – with emphasis on those affecting handling characteristics – and windshear and rejected take-off training.”
Training course requirements vary according to the amount and relevance of experience that pilots and technicians bring with them from working on other fleets. For example pilots with no previous Boeing experience can convert to the 787 in 20 working days, according to the Federal Aviation Administration-approved syllabus. Current 777 pilots can convert with only a five-day differences course, and from other Boeing types it takes 13 working days to win a 787 type rating.
Beyond the cockpit and the cabin, Boeing has to enable customers to ensure that their maintenance personnel can maintain and repair composite structures. The manufacturer offers composites training in Miami and Singapore.
Composites training is split between classroom instruction and hands-on skills development in a purpose-built composite training facility. There are three different course levels in the composite repair training curriculum. These include:
The inspectors course: designed to teach the basic construction and properties of 787 composite materials. During the training the students learn how to perform an inspection and analysis to make a “fix or fly” judgement on 787 composite damage, and how to perform a quick composite repair.
The technicians’ course: teaches students how to carry out repairs in accordance with the 787 structural repair manual.
The engineers’ course: to teach students how to design repairs using approved Boeing design data.
Each 787 customer is provided with an allocation of training points per aircraft according to the number purchased, and they can use these at any of the Boeing training centres. Since the 787 has sold an unprecedented total of 835 aircraft before service entry, Boeing’s Training and Flight Services division faces a considerable challenge to help airlines meet the 787′s needs.
Boeing will be integrating its training obligations to its 787 customers’ needs for expert personnel with those of customers for its other types. It will also be competing with the rest of the commercial air transport industry for suitably educated trainee engineers, pilots and technicians who are prepared to join an expanding industry and undergo training for it.
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Next week, Beijing will show off a full-scale mockup of its 156-seat C919 passenger plane at an air show hoping to compete with Boeing and Airbus, the world’s only manufacturers of large commercial aircraft. Some well-known U.S. companies are already offering help.
Slated for production by 2016, the 156-seat, single-aisle C919 passenger plane would have its fuselage emblazoned with Comac, the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China.
But inside, the most crucial systems would bear the trademarks of some of the biggest names in Western aviation. Honeywell International Inc. will supply power units, on-board computing systems, wheels and brakes; Rockwell Collins Inc. will handle navigation systems; GE Aviation is building the avionics; Eaton Corp. is involved with fuel and hydraulics; and Parker Aerospace of Irvine is responsible for flight controls. Powering the aircraft will be two fuel-efficient engines built by CFM International, a company co-owned by GE and French conglomerate Safran.
However, this has placed U.S. and European suppliers in a tough spot: Be willing to hand over advanced technology to Chinese firms that could one day be rivals or miss out on what’s likely to be the biggest aviation bonanza of the next half a century. Honeywell alone has snagged contracts worth more than $11 billion for the project.
A C919 jumbo jet model displayed at Hong Kong's Asian Aerospace International Expo
Roger Seager, GE Aviation’s vice president and general manager for China, said he was confident that his company could protect its intellectual property. But the rapid rise of another Chinese transport industry — high-speed rail — challenges that notion. After sharing technology and expertise to help China develop a network of gleaming bullet trains, Japanese and European rail firms now find themselves competing with their former Chinese joint-venture partners for new contracts, both inside and outside China. Still, Seager said it’s crucial for his company to get into China now.
“If they launch a commercial aviation industry, you’ve got to be part of it,” said Seager, whose company has garnered contracts worth about $6 billion for the C919. “You can’t take a pass and come back in 10 years. You’ve got to jump in with both feet now…. We would be remiss if we weren’t trying to be part of their growth.”
The aircraft’s builders are so confident; the first “9″ in the jetliner’s name was picked because it sounds like “forever” in Chinese. Also, China is already a major assembler and parts supplier for some of the world’s best-known aircraft. Airbus’ A320s reach their final assembly in the northern port city of Tianjin. Half of Boeing’s fleet of 12,000 airplanes includes components made in China. About 600,000 Chinese workers are employed in aerospace, about as many as in the United States.
Still, the C919‘s success is anything but assured. Japan, South Korea and Indonesia all failed in their attempts to build large jets. Repeated delays in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and recent problems with the Airbus A380‘s engine show that even the most experienced players can stumble.
China has struggled to build its own aircraft for decades. Comac will soon roll out its first regional jet, the 78-seat ARJ21 Soaring Phoenix. Chinese officials have hailed it as a breakthrough. But experts said the ARJ21 could have a tough time competing outside China against cutting-edge models from Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer.
Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing, said “I don’t think there’s any question Comac will deliver a successful airplane,” later adding “How successful? It’s hard to say. Clearly there’s room for us to grow, Airbus to grow and one or more competitors…. We have an advantage. We have built more airplanes than anyone else.”
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On Nov. 3, Boeing announced the availability of a rotable exchange services program that will support the operation of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This program will help airline customers reduce inventory costs by providing access to a Boeing-managed inventory pool of parts that is available to ship within 24 hours of request.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner final assembly
Dale Wilkinson, Vice President, Material Services for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “The 787 Rotables Exchange Services Program will provide a dedicated pool of high-value, dispatch-critical parts for airlines, while helping them to improve operations support and cash flow.” Wilkinson also said that “The program manages configuration, warranty and reliability for the covered parts, freeing the airline to focus on passengers and the operation of the airplane.”
With the Boeing 787 Rotable Exchange Program, the airline removes a part from the airplane and ships it for exchange with a new unit from Boeing’s exchange pool. Boeing plans to support up to 600 high-value rotable parts, including such items as the Auxiliary Power Unit and Variable Frequency Starter Generator. By providing coverage for parts typically priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the exchange program can provide considerable inventory cost savings for airlines.
The program provides a flight-hour cost basis that enables the customer to better forecast maintenance costs, while spreading out high-cost expenditures for rotable parts over the 10-year term of the agreement.
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The 787 Dreamliner flight certification training has been started by Boeing Training & Flight Services following the provisional approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Boeing‘s Seattle-based 787 flight training devices
Pilots train on a 787 flat panel training device and a 787 full-flight simulator as part of flight training. Both devices were manufactured by Thales.
Sherry Carbary, Vice president, Flight Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “The innovations of the 787 have inspired us to develop the most effective training curriculum based on our customers’ training needs matched with efficient delivery and modern simulation tools.” She also stated “With the FAA‘s approval on our flight training devices, we are embarking on an exciting journey toward delivering qualified and competent crews.”
The provisional designation will be removed once the airplane is fully certified. Local FAA offices will approve training courses customized for individual operators and these may be based on provisional approvals prior to certification of the airplane.
Mike Fleming, 787 Director of Services and Support, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “We’re pleased with the progress we are making in ensuring our support products and services are ready for our customers.” Fleming also mentioned that “This is an exciting time for our customers and an important achievement for the entire Boeing team as we move toward delivery of the first 787.”
Currently, there are eight training suites at five Boeing Training & Flight Services locations around the world namely in Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, Seattle and Gatwick, U.K.
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Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Aside from the delay in the first flight of the sixth and final 787 flight test of the Boeing aircraft to Sept. 12, the US plane maker is also facing a $1 billion claim from Air India related to 27 delayed Dreamliners the carrier has on order.
The latest challenges to hit the 787 program come as Boeing continues to target the 2010 fourth quarter for first delivery to ANA even as it warns that first deliveries could slip into 2011. While final assembly has started on the 26th 787 designated for Air India, the airline reportedly has submitted a $1 billion claim against Boeing for compensation for delivery delays. According to India Today, it has the backing of the Indian government in seeking compensation from Boeing, although the US government is pressuring it to soften its line.
Initial 787 deliveries to Air India were due to start in 2008 but the first aircraft is now scheduled to be delivered in March 2011. The airline is planning to use 787s to replace aging aircraft including A310s and 747-400s. Boeing has acknowledged that the margin on the 787 flight test program has thinned considerably. Its plan to put the sixth flight test aircraft in the air by the end of July did not come to fruition. According to company insiders, ZA006‘s first flight is now targeted for Sept. 12.
The 787 Dreamliner is a long range, wide-body jet airliner made up composite materials and is the company’s most fuel-efficient plane which could seat 210 to 330 passengers.
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Last Thursday, Boeing announced that issues about its 787 Dreamliner flight tests could delay first delivery of the anticipated aircraft into the first part of 2011. Still, the company expects an uptick in new plane demand over the next two decades.
787 program General Manager Scott Fancher said Boeing have not yet decided if the first delivery to Japan’s All Nippon Airways will be moved to a later date. Presently, the first delivery is scheduled by the end of this year.
Fancher stated “We’ve seen some issues recently that have pushed our schedule margin a bit.” The issues relate to “instrument configuration” and inspection work. He also said the possible delay is not related to plane operations. “We wanted to give a little bit of a cautionary note that things could push into the first part of next year,” Fancher said. “Our schedule still shows delivery for the end of the year.”
The 787 is already behind its original schedule for more than two years. Production of the plane was delayed five times in three years. The first flight was postponed six times because of parts shortages, design problems and a two-month strike at Boeing’s factory in 2008.
Boeing temporarily stopped flying its test 787s last month after identifying a problem affecting the horizontal tail.
Boeing also announced last Thursday that it has chosen North Charleston, South Carolina, as the location to build a new facility to make parts for the Dreamliner’s interior. Construction is expected to begin in this year’s fourth quarter.
Maiden flight of the 787 Dreamliner
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In a meeting with his Russian counterpart last week, President Barack Obama lauded Russian Technologies plan to buy 50 Boeing 737s.
“I am especially pleased that Boeing and Russian Technologies are moving forward with a $4 billion deal on 50 Boeing 737s,” Obama said.
Russian Technologies (Rostechnologii) announced June 1 that it had chosen Boeing’s 737 over Airbus’ A320 for the large new narrow-body airliner order. The state-owned company operates carrier Rosavia and is working with Aeroflot on a deal for that carrier to lease some of the jets.
Thursday last week, Boeing announced it had signed a five-year contract extension with Russia’s VSMPO AVISMA Corp. and an agreement with Innovation Center of Skolkovo, Russia, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s U.S. visit.
VSMPO AVISM has supplied raw material and titanium parts to Boeing since 1997. The extension continues deliveries of titanium forgings and rough-machined titanium forgings for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, 777 and 737 aircraft through 2015.
“This contract is another milestone in Boeing’s longstanding relationship with Russian Technologies/VSMPO-AVISMA — our strategic partner and supplier in Russia,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh said in a news release.
Boeing expects to spend as much as $27 billion on Russian titanium, aerospace design-engineering services and other services and materials over the next 30 years.
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All Nippon Airways (ANA), Boeing 787 launch customer, targets its first 787-8 commercial flight in January 2011.
ANA spokeswoman says, “The airline plans to follow this with its first 787 international flight in end-March. We hope to receive the aircraft in November or December, and operate the first commercial flight to a domestic destination a month after that,”
The aircraft will enter into service on international routes on the carrier’s 2011 summer schedule, which begins in end-March, added the spokeswoman.
Beijing and Shanghai, and cities on the USA’s west coast and Europe are the potential destinations.
“The 787 is the replacement for the 767, and we are currently operating the 767 to many Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai, so those cities will be under consideration. The 787 can go longer, so we are also evaluating the west coast of the USA and Europe,” says the spokeswoman.
ANA expects to receive another seven 787s by the end of its current fiscal year ending March 31 2011.