Realization of a Dream Part One: A Technical Analysis of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner High-Speed Taxi Test Image: Boeing

  “Indeed,  a wonderful opportunity was missed to give the flying public a large glimpse of the future in aircraft design, and one that would have had people flocking to airports just to see it.” – Myron D. Stokes, Publisher, eMOTION!
BOAC, Now British Airways, Crews Cheer Arrival of DeHavilland Comet, World’s First Operational Jetliner  Image: BOAC

Chicago – 17 June, 2012 –     In the interests of professional full disclosure, I completely disagreed with Boeing’s decision to drop development of the Sonic Cruiser – an aircraft with the potential to completely reshape the commercial  air travel landscape in a way not seen since the debut of the jet-powered DeHavilland Comet, Boeing 707 and supersonic Concorde (I had the profound privilege of being aboard Concorde 4 times) in favor of the aesthetically boring -save for the exquisite interior- though technologically advanced Dreamliner. An analysis in queue, but never completed owing to national security related events which commanded our full attention, was entitled “Boeing Chooses Mediocrity Over Greatness”.  Indeed,  a wonderful opportunity was missed to give the flying public a large glimpse of the future in aircraft design, and one that would have had people flocking to airports just to see it.  It should be mentioned however, that according to Flight Global’s Steve Trimble last month, there is reconsideration -on going as we speak- of a somewhat reconfigured,  and in all likelihood Mach 1 capable, Sonic Cruiser as replacement for 757.

Artist’s Rendering of The Sonic Cruiser: If Boeing Doesn’t Build it The Japanese and The Chinese Most Certainly Will       Image: Boeing

The foregoing statement is one given substance as I recall recommending to then British Airways Director of Public Relations John Lampl that he should strongly consider having Concorde visit Tampa International Airport.  In the aftermath of having flown this superlative aircraft on its inaugural run for Miami service in March of 1984 and then again the following year, I felt this visit would act as a stimulus for further developing the passenger base in the Tampa – St.Petersburg -Clearwater market.  John agreed, and Concorde did indeed visit Tampa in 1985 and thrilled the 100,000+ people who responded to an excellent PR campaign that included a full page ad simply saying “Concorde’s Coming!”.

Airbus A380   Image: Airbus

  Managerial Weakness?

I always believed Boeing management, under the then captaincy of Dr. Philip Condit, weakly bowed to pressure from Airbus’ John Leahy and under informed aviation media’s public debunking of Boeing’s Sonic Cruiser announcement in 2001 following a near total rejection of its revamped 747X in favor of the “clean sheet of paper” A380 Super Jumbo.  And in hindsight, must be viewed as nothing more than a thinly disguised fear by Leahy that the proposed near-sonic Boeing aircraft would simply neutralize the market momentum and presumed ascendancy induced by A380.

In the 2001 analysis “Boeing Going?” Leahy was quoted as saying “The 747 is a very fine airplane, but it’s based on 1960’s technology.”  To which our editorial team responded:

Someone should remind Mr. Leahy that airframes, properly maintained, can theoretically last forever. Considering the reality of avionics/flight systems modularity, even a DC-3 can be modified to operate on the technological edge. Expanding on the statement ‘1960’s technology’, he ought to remember this era produced aircraft of such superlative design and performance that they are considered aeronautical engineering benchmarks to this day. Names that readily come to mind include Concorde, SR-71, X-15 and Harrier. Not to mention we went to the moon in 1969.”
Then Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Alan Mulally Unveils a 3-dimensional Model of the Sonic Cruiser during the 2001 Paris Air Show.  There is Little Doubt That Mulally Would Have Successfully Launched the Program    Image:  Boeing
In a two releases entitled “Boeing Sonic Cruiser will Change the Way the World Flies” and “Boeing Unveils the Future at Paris Air Show”  the pivotal role this aircraft could play was clearly not lost on the Boeing team when a 3-dimensional model was unveiled during the 2001 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airfield:  PARIS, June 19, 2001 — Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Alan Mulally unveiled a model of the company’s new ‘Sonic Cruiser’ today at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France, giving the world its first three-dimension look at the airplane that will change the way the world flies. The new airplane, which flies higher, faster and farther than today’s jets, will connect people, ideas and opportunities in new and more efficient ways. It also will provide airlines with a means to serve their customers’ changing needs and achieve greater operational benefits.  The sonic cruiser is expected to fly at speeds of up to Mach .98 (98 percent of the speed of sound) or faster over extended ranges. The faster speeds will reduce flight times by approximately 20 percent, shortening air travel trips by about one-hour for every 3,000 miles flown. The airplane’s long-range potential of 9,000 nautical miles (16,670 kilometers) or higher means passengers will be able to fly directly to their destinations, avoiding congested hubs and the delay and inconvenience of intermediate stops.”
And lest you think that Boeing would have been pushing the limits of its conceptualization, design, engineering, manufacturing and design for manufacturability proficiency, one needs go no further than the review of a 1969 technical description of the company’s version of the Supersonic Transport (SST)  initiative and the more comprehensive description to the Department of Defense  and to the FAA (Pratt & Whitney engine analysis)   in 1966 and 1967 respectively.
It is of interest that Airbus was forced to proffer a rival concept to Sonic Cruiser; a clear signal Boeing’s announcement induced not a few sleepless nights for the European aircraft manufacturer’s executive suite.  According to our sources, the flight experience transparency materials concept announced in 2010, is either a direct derivative of an internal 2001 concept or was heavily influenced by same.
Delivery of 787 Aircraft to Launch Customer ANA at Everett, WA Production Facilities in September 2011
“Of course, I very much want 787 to succeed brilliantly.  And, although confident that every problem has a solution, I remain convinced that only a short to mid-term solution has been crafted to gain FAA certification.” – Aerospace Industry Supplier

 

 

Destined For Success: Dreamliner Completing World Tour

With the delivery of 787 aircraft to launch customer ANA last September, and the near completion of its world tour flight demonstrations, Boeing appears to be on a roll.
The myriad manufacturing process issues, particularly the conjoining of metal to composites, seemed to have been resolved, although academic colleagues in the field of metallurgy and an aerospace industry supplier are not totally convinced that Boeing has crafted a long term solution to the latter concern.   “In my mind, I keep envisioning a [DeHavilland] Comet-like state of affairs from an aircraft structural integrity standpoint; the result of pushing the technological envelope too far, too fast,” said a supplier colleague.  “While I have seen Boeing engineers over the decades demonstrate an incredible knack for ultra-complex problem solving, the issue of composites being used this extensively in an airframe (50%) and conjoined metal to composite in the wing box is a new animal.  No one has demonstrated or answered convincingly to my satisfaction that separation of the conjoined components will not occur subsequent to X amount of flight cycles.  You can’t put one thing that doesn’t move on top of something that does.

“Of course, I very much want 787 to succeed brilliantly.  And, although confident that every problem has a solution, I remain convinced that only a short to mid-term solution has been crafted to gain FAA approval.  An approval mind you, that prompted a GAO investigation into the 787-specific modified certification processes.”

Boeing 707   Image: Boeing

To be continued next week…

Related:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/emotion-reportscom-analysis-part-one-boeings-787-dreamliner-159822005.html

Boeing 787 From the Ground Up
Composite Material For Aerospace Structures
787 Video
Influence of Implementation of Composite Materials In Civil Aircraft Industry on Reduction of Environment Pollution and Greenhouse Effect
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Cutaway: http://members.ync.net/jam/cutaways/sr71a.html
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Defense Policy Analyst: “China’s Arrogance and Belief They Are Next World Power Makes War With US/UK Inevitable and Soon”

Carrier Shi-Lang at Dalian Yards.This 67,500 Ton Kuznetsov-class Vessel, Originally the Ukraine’s Varyag, is Operational Now [November 2010] According to Our Intelligence Sources, Not 2015 as recently reported – Image PLAN

December 13, 2010 (PressReleasePoint) — Washington, D.C. Comments subsequent to an Asia tour this year from a highly respected defense policy analyst who has served in previous administrations, seem to confirm the concerns by several key officials within the US Department of Defense, the UK Ministry of Defence and the crafters of a recently released report by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC.gov) that China is on a collision course with Western powers extending beyond the reality of its sustained economic war against other countries.

“The arrogance, dismissiveness and disrespect for the US in particular by senior Chinese officials during our visit was not only profound, but deeply disturbing,” said this analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity. “China’s current rate of growth is unsustainable, so much so that if it were to continue for the next two decades, another planet earth would be required. Even more alarming is that when presented with clear data supporting this contention, our Chinese colleagues made it obvious that “‘Even if it is necessary to grow beyond our borders, the current initiatives and policies will be maintained.’

“China”, the analyst continued, “is convinced that supplanting the US/UK as the dominant super-power; is within its grasp and will brook no conversations, observations, recommendations or warnings that suggest otherwise. Moreover, the idea that China can be dealt with based on a perception of a melded Confucianism/Shinto/Buddhist ideology-based paternalistic benevolency, is completely without merit. And is indeed, downright dangerous.

Confucian Philosophy Eliminated
“The quiet wisdom advocated by Confucius calling for respect of all others while being defenders of justice, has completely disappeared from China’s philosophy of governance; the victim of the Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao. (Suffice it to say that China 2010 is ideologically the mirror of Communist China 1949.)

“Those who focus only on the potential of doing business within an explosive China economy,” he said, “while turning a blind eye to its stunning, ominous, military build-up, may find themselves in a most uncomfortable position as major global firms lose control of their China operations in a manner consistent with Buffett BYD plant confiscations. At the same time, the break out of hostilities against Japan and Taiwan is a distinct near to mid-term possibility.”

The analyst’s observations are well supported by learned others:

In his opening statement, [United States-China Economic and Security Review] Commission Chairman Dan Slane said “The 2010 Annual Report (released 17 November) reflects the Commission’s conclusions that China has failed in some notable areas to fulfill the promises it made nine years ago when it joined the World Trade Organization. Specifically, China is adopting a highly discriminatory policy of favoring domestic producers over foreign manufacturers. Under the guise of fostering “indigenous innovation” in its economy, the government of China appears determined to exclude foreigners from bidding on government contracts… In addition, China has proposed that its many state-owned corporations be exempt from WTO rules on procurement. The Chinese government quite simply intends to wall off a majority of its economy from international competition.”

In her opening statement, Vice Chairman Carolyn Bartholomew commented on China’s military modernization, saying “As a result of China’s improved offensive air and missile capabilities, the Chinese military has strengthened its capacity to threaten U.S. forces and bases in the region. Currently, China’s conventional missile capabilities alone may be sufficient to temporarily knock out five of the six U.S. air bases in East Asia. Saturation missile strikes could destroy U.S. air defenses, runways, parked aircraft, and fuel and maintenance facilities. Complicating this scenario is the future deployment of China’s anti-ship ballistic missile, which could hold U.S. aircraft carriers at bay outside their normal operating range.”

Western Companies Warned
The analyst further advised that “Western companies, inclusive of GM, Ford, VW, Boeing and Airbus, with significant investment in China-based manufacturing infrastructure and the proprietary processes PRC officials have demanded as a requirement to do business in the world’s most populous country, should thoroughly examine — Japanese companies have already done so — their exit and loss prevention strategies… now.”
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About eMOTION! REPORTS.com:
eMOTION! REPORTS.com (http://emotionreports.com http://emotionreportscom.blogspot.com/) is an automotive/aerospace industries research and analysis site targeting professionals within the academic, media, corporate and government sectors. The site also created a pathway through which white papers and other scholarly works such as “Crisis On Asimov: A Vision of 2085” by national security strategist Dr. Sheila Ronis; “Quantum Parallel: The Saint-Hilaire Quasiturbine as the Basis For Simultaneous Paradigm Shift in Vehicle Propulsion Systems” and “Super-Globalism: Strategies For Maintaining a Robust Industrial Base Through Technological, Policy and Process Improvement”, could be presented to a broadened yet specific audience.

Publisher Myron D. Stokes is an award winning veteran automotive/aerospace industry analyst and spent several years as an industry correspondent for Newsweek, Newsweek Japan and Newsweek International. His.work as an journalist with special emphasis on business and technology has been published in a variety of other major print mediums including the Detroit News, Changing Times Magazine, Auto Week and corporate publications. Over the years, he has provided major corporations and media groups with “deep background” analyses that have helped shape the direction of some of the most significant news stories and industry strategies After outlining a strategy to expand industry coverage for Newsweek Magazine in November of 1991, he worked in the capacity of industry correspondent and investigative reporter. His reporting included in-depth assessments of the “shake- up” at GM, the much publicized industrial espionage charges against former GM supplier executive Dr. Ignacio Lopez; the hazards of doing business in China; the viability of Electric Vehicles which centered on advanced battery technology in both the private sector and military (Newsweek International edition); the difficulties then facing Japan’s auto industry and the comeback of the Big Three (Newsweek Japan).

In recent years, he has covered some of the most recognized stories in automotive, aerospace and general interest. These include the Kirk Kerkorian Chrysler takeover attempt; the GM C/K truck controversy; the U.S./Japan trade issue (Newsweek Japan) which required significant interaction with then Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown;data for Newsweek cover story (4/95) on Airline Safety; investigative analysis of possible collusion between the warring governments of Bosnia President Alijah Izetbegovich and Serbia President Slobodan Milosevic along with uncovering of plan to re-implement ethnic cleansing prior to Srebednicza massacre (6/95); and the Oklahoma City bombing. His ability to thoroughly and accurately report and analyze issues of substance garnered himself and former Newsweek Detroit Bureau Chief Frank Washington first place in the coveted Detroit Press Club International Golden Wheel Award for Automotive Journalism in 1995. This competition, judged by professors from the University of Nebraska School of Journalism, included entries from 110 journalists in five countries. Business Week took second place. Stokes was also privileged to function as acting Detroit Bureau Chief for Newsweek.

Stokes maintains strong interest in global affairs, and continues to be involved in a range of nation building and humanitarian/disaster relief efforts. Among these were acting as initial intercessor between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the then warring governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia; an activity which helped lead to the cessation of hostilities in October 1999; the coordination of relief activities with US, European and Middle-East based colleagues subsequent to the Bam, Iran, earthquake of 2004, the Pakistan earthquake of 2005, and co-structuring of academic and industrio/economic base developmental programs with colleagues in Pakistan and India.

Associate Publisher, Motorsports Editor, John T. Chuhran has covered motorsports as an award-winning journalist for more than a quarter century. From 1992-94 he served as Director, Media Relations and primary spokesman for Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (CART) the governing body for the PPG Indy Car World Series. For more than two decades he has been a sports writer and editor for such media as The Philadelphia Bulletin, Gannett Westchester (NY) Newspapers, the Bridgewater (NJ) Courier-News, the Associated Press, United Press International, BBC Radio and the Reuters News Service. He has served as communications Manager (Product), Press Fleet Supervisor and Press Information Specialist of Mercedes-Benz North America where he was responsible for all motorsports and professional sports activities of the company. He also has been the primary media professional at a selective New York City investor relations firm where he optimized media exposure for several companies that launched IPOs and Secondary Offerings. During this time, he was also the de facto Media Relations executive responsible for all media activities of the Professional Sports Car Racing series (now known as IMSA) during the ownership of Andrew Evans. Currently, Mr. Chuhran manages the media centers at several NASCAR racetracks during event weekends, and he maintains extremely positive relationships with the motorsports media. He also continues to write as a contributing editor for motorsports outlets such as The Star (Mercedes-Benz) magazine.

As a primary result of analytical accuracy and depth of content, ER yields notable Google search responses to quasi-generic terms such as “2010 Automotive Industry Analysis” (6,9 and 10 of 94,500,000 returns 12/13/10). Now approaching a decade of existence, The eMOTION! REPORTS.com global team includes some of the most capable journalists and analysts drawn from media, government and academia.

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