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News : International Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15

Boeing celebrates the premiere of the 787 Dreamliner; Company terms itself systems integrator not manufacturer - 70% built outside the United States
By Finfacts Team
Jul 9, 2007, 10:02

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The 787 Dreamliner at the Boeing Everett, Washington State, final assembly factory - - Photo Credit: Boeing Photo

On Sunday, Boeing officially debuted the technologically advanced and environmentally progressive 787 Dreamliner in a celebration attended by employees, airline customers, supplier partners and government and community officials.

The 787 Dreamliner Premiere was broadcast live in nine different languages via satellite to more than 45 countries and webcast via www.newairplane.com. Former NBC news anchor and best-selling author Tom Brokaw served as the master of ceremonies for the event.

Approximately 15,000 people attended the Premiere at the Everett, Washington Stta., final assembly factory. More than 30,000 participated via two-way satellite into the event in Everett from Japan, Italy and locations in the United States. As many as 90 other locations around the globe involving 787 customers, partners and many Boeing employees also chose to download the event live or watch it pre-recorded and host their own viewing event.

In all, the 787 Premiere potentially reached 100 million or more viewers, making it one of the largest corporate TV and Internet broadcasts in history.

"This has been a wonderful and exciting day to celebrate this breakthrough airplane with our customers, employees, supplier partners and our communities," said Scott Carson, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. "We are gratified that the 787 has been so strongly validated in the marketplace by our customers. Their response is proof that the Dreamliner will bring real value to our airline customers, passengers and the global air transportation system."

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the world's first mostly composite commercial airplane, will use 20 percent less fuel per passenger than similarly sized airplanes, produce fewer carbon emissions, and will have quieter takeoffs and landings.

"Our journey began some six years ago when we knew we were on the cusp of delivering valuable technologies that would make an economic difference to our airline customers. In our business, that happens every 15 or so years, so we have to get it right," said Mike Bair, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president/general manager of the 787 program. "I am so proud of the men and women of Boeing and of our partner employees in the 70 companies that have brought this airplane to the passengers of the world."

Boeing as Systems Integrator

John Gapper writes in the Financial Times today that the 787 is remarkable for the degree to which Boeing has outsourced production around the world. Boeing itself is responsible for about 10 per cent by value –– tail fin and final assembly. The rest is done by 40 partners, with the wings built in Japan, the carbon composite fuselage in Italy and the US and the landing gear in France.

Boeing used to be the most parochial of aircraft makers – only about 2 per cent of the Boeing 707 was built outside the US in the 1950s – but it is now part of a revolution. Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft maker, already uses a global manufacturing system. Airbus will follow Boeing’s lead for the A350, closing plants in Europe and outsourcing work to China and elsewhere.

The most vociferous critic of the trend is David Pritchard, a researcher at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Pritchard laments the “strategic destruction” of the US aerospace industry, arguing that Boeing is giving away intellectual property in return for capital. It is helping suppliers in Japan and China to develop technology they will use to make their own aircraft. His Ph.D thesis was titled: Global Decentralization of Commercial Aircraft Production: Implications to the US Manufacturing Base.

Pritchard says that by relying on risk-sharing partners to develop key aspects of the technology for the 787 – including its innovative carbon composite fuselage – the company has sacrificed US leadership in a crucial export industry. He has sympathisers among trades unions at Boeing, which has shed 38,000 jobs since September 2001 and calls itself a “systems integrator” rather than manufacturer.

Newsweek Magazine says that 70 per cent of the Dreamliner, is being built outside the United States. And up to 60 per cent of the production work on Airbus's answer to the 787—the A350, due to launch in 2012—will be done outside Continental Europe.

"We're transferring lessons learned and new technology being honed to Asian [companies]," David Pritchard told Newsweek. "When the next-generation airplane comes along, we will have no base knowledge of how to produce it ourselves."

China recently announced that it will soon launch a commercial feeder plane that will carry 90 passengers. It plans to launch a large commercial aircraft by 2020.

Testimony of Dr. David Pritchard, Research Associate, University at Buffalo-State University of New York-Canada United States Trade Center before the US-China Economic & Security Review Commission.

677 Dreamliners on Order

Following the premiere, the first 787 Dreamliner will be completed in the Everett factory - including the installation of final systems elements, interiors and flight test equipment. First flight of the airplane is expected in late August or September. A total of six airplanes will be included in the flight test program, which will conclude in May 2008 with the certification of the airplane followed shortly by the first delivery of a 787 to ANA.

To date, 47 customers worldwide have ordered 677 airplanes worth more than $110 billion at current list prices, making the Dreamliner the most successful commercial airplane launch in history. The first 787 is scheduled to enter passenger service in May 2008.

© Copyright 2007 by Finfacts.com

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