GUY NORRIS AND MARK WAGNER
Chapter 1BRINGING BACK THE MAGIC
Chapter 2SUPER EFFICIENT
Chapter 4GOLF, MISSILES, AND DREAMLINERS
Chapter 5SYSTEMS ADVANTAGE
Chapter 6POWER PACKED
Chapter 8TESTING TIMES
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
Chapter 10TAKING FLIGHT
AppendixSPECIFICATIONS AND MILESTONES
ACKNOWLEDGMENTSA VERITABLE LEGION HELPED US ALONG THE WAY ON THIS LONG JOURNEY .FIRST and foremost are Yvonne Leach and her stalwart 787communications colleagues past and present at Boeing including LoriGunter, Mary Hanson, Adam Morgan, Scott Lefeber, Lorri Murphy,Jennifer German, and Mary Kane. Among the engine makers ourthanks also to the irrepressible Rick Kennedy, Deb Case, and JimStump at General Electric; Martin Johnson; Martin Brodie; Ian Bustin;Annalie Brown and Bill OSullivan at Rolls-Royce; and Mark Sullivan,formerly of Pratt & Whitney. We would also like to thank Gail Warnerand Lisa Bottle of Goodrich; Helene Cox and Sandra Fearon ofGKN/Ultra Electronics; Pam Tvrdy and Nancy Welsh of RockwellCollins; and Tom Kilbane. Also Deborah Gann of Spirit AeroSystems;Jennifer Vilarreal and Heather Cox of GE Aviation (formerly SmithsAerospace); and Peg Hashem of Hamilton Sundstrand.
Among the engineering, management, and pilot teams, again pastand present, who gave up valuable time to help us wed particularly liketo thank Pat Shanahan, Mike Bair, Tom Brisken, Stuart Buchan, MikeCarriker, Tom Cogan, Mike Delaney, Walt Gillette, Jeff Hawk, DuaneJackson, Mark Jenks, Alan Mulally, Dennis ODonoghue, RichardOstrom, John Roundhill, Frank Santoni, Mike Sinnett, Frank Statkus,and Scott Strode.
Our grateful appreciation also goes to Graham Warwick for hispatient sub-editing skills and to Gareth Burgess and Lia Ravelo forgraphic artistry. Colleagues at Aviation Week & Space Technologyand Flight International, past and present, who in one way or anotherhave provided a helping hand include Max Kingley Jones, JonOstrower the inimitable Flightblogger, Andrew Doyle, Paul Lewis, MikeMecham, Jim Asker, Joe Anselmo, Darren Shannon, and TonyVelocci. Thanks also to Dominic Gates of Seattle Times and JamesWallace (formerly Seattle PI), Geoffrey Thomas, Darren Shannon, and
Joe Wollner, as well as bloggers Uresh Sheth and Saj Ahmad. Wedalso like to say a special thank you to our long-suffering families: Anna,Chris, Daniel, Tom, Greg, Steph, Henry, and Polly, without whosesteadfast support none of this would have been possible. Also to theIsle of Man support team including Trevor, Jan and Elise Norris,Melanie and Bronte Wright. Last, but not least, we thank our editor atZenith Press, Steve Gansen, who has stuck with us on this project forso long.
PROLOGUEOCTOBER 26, 2002, WAS A COLD, UNSETTLING DAY FOR MANY SEATTLE CITIZENS.The news that Saturday morning was full of stories about the bloodyend to a Chechen hostage crisis in Moscow, as well as growing signsof imminent U.S. military intervention in Iraq. Just over a year hadpassed since the horrifying 9/11 attacks on America, and the worldremained an uncertain place.
Few of those scurrying along Seattles busy waterfront on AlaskanWay could therefore have guessed that a meeting was taking placethat morning at Pier 66 that would bring some much-needed goodnews and at the same time fundamentally alter the destiny of theworlds air transport industry. There, beneath steely gray skies andcold rain showers, delegates from a dozen airlines were quietlymeeting with Boeing officials at the Bell Harbor Conference Center.
While decidedly low-key, the meeting was also pivotal. Boeinghoped, once and for all, that the gathering would help it figure out whatthe airlines wanted most in the next-generation airliner: speed orefficiency. No one knew for sure at the time, but it would decide notonly Boeings design priorities for the twenty-first century, but alsobegin a chain reaction that would impact the aerospace industry foryears to come.
Anchoring the meeting was Walt Gillette, a soft-spoken Texan witha reputation for solid engineering over a long career at Boeingstretching back to 1966. Gillette, who in media interviews referred tohimself as older than dirt, had been involved in almost every Boeingjetliner since the 707. Now he was tasked with steering the companysaircraft development in a bold new direction and away from the lower-risk, lower-cost derivative approach of the past decade.
Boeing heritage infused Gillettes blood. He had been brought upon flying tales of World War II from his uncle, a B-17 veteran, andGillettes many achievements included a breakthrough installationdesign that enabled the low-slung 737 wing to be fitted with the high-bypass CFM56 engine. The move transformed the fortunes of the 737,
effectively launching it into the history books as the best-selling airlinerof all time. Now he was pursuing answers that would help plot Boeingscommercial jetliner development course for the next fifty years or more.
Since early 2001, Boeing had been courting airlines with anintriguing high-speed design called the Sonic Cruiser. But all the time,Boeing had a reference model in its back pocket, a theoreticalconcept that shifted all the new technology in the Sonic Cruiser fromspeed to efficiency. The model, dubbed Project Yellowstone, was onlymeant to be a gauge against which the true advantages of thetechnology could be judged, but to Boeings surprise it started toattract just as much interest as, if not more than, the Sonic Cruiser.
But was this interest real? Were the airlines really more interestedin efficiency than the holy grail of higher speed? Of course, times weretough for some carriers after 9/11, but how many wanted efficiency andhow many still demanded speed? Boeing had to know, and the huddleon that cold, overcast day on Seattles Pier 66 was the best way to findout.
Wed had a series of meeting with these airlines, and after aboutthree of these gatherings we finally had to know what they thought,recalled Gillette. In front of the top strategic planners for the topairlines, he drew a graph on a whiteboard. Along the bottom of thegraph was range, while the vertical axis was payload. Some wereclearly intrigued by the reference model, and some clearly wantedmore speed. There were dots all over the graph, he recollected.
We told them this was not a decision meeting, but that Boeing hadto decide what to offer, recalled Gillette, who later viewed the meetingas one of the most productive he ever had. The results were gold dust.After all the airline representatives left, Boeing gathered up the chartsand reviewed the results. The airlines were virtually unanimous, andnone gave a high rating to Sonic Cruisers Mach 0.98 cruisecapability, while all gave maximum points to Yellowstone, which had a20 percent cut in fuel burn relative to a 767. The bottom line was thatspeed was out and efficiency was in. From now on, the course wasset, and the journey toward the Dreamliner had begun.
INTRODUCTIONTHE STORY OF THE 787 DEFIES THE IMAGINATION. NOT SINCE THE 1960S AND theheady days of Apollo, Concorde, and the Boeing 747 has anaerospace story captivated such global attention or prompted as muchintrigue. News of the project leaked out at the fledgling Sonic Cruiserstage, far earlier than Boeing wanted. But the reaction sparked anunprecedented level of interest that refused to dissipate when theproject morphed into the 7E7 and later evolved into the 787Dreamliner. In a new media world of instant web access, blogging, andtwittering, the exposure was almost too much. It was like working in agold fish bowl, former project leader Mike Bair once remarked.
At first the spotlight was kind, and the projects high-profiletechnology and innovations basked in the glow of success as recordorders poured in. But problems derailed the project, and Boeingschallenges turned the Dreamliner into an industrial nightmare. Thepublic glare became the frightening spotlight of the inquisitor. Yet thisintense scrutiny also revealed the true extent of the huge mountainBoeing had set out to climb with the 787, and which it still is on courseto conquer as it brings the Dreamliner to market. To fundamentallychange either design practice, or a production system, or structuraldesign philosophy or systems architecture, is challenging enoughwith the 787 Boeing undertook to change all of these at one time. Thisis why, in short, the 787 is the most delayed project in the companysstoried history.
Yet, in the long run, these are also the same reasons why the 787 isset to emerge as a revolutionary change for the commercialaerospace industry, and as a flagship for Boeings ambitions in thesecond decade of the twenty-first century. Speaking to Aviation Week& Space Technology on the eve of its plannedbut eventuallypostponedfirst flight in June 2009, Boeing chairman, president, andCEO James McNerney succinctly summarized the 787 experience:
You saw ambition outrun ability to execute. Weve had to learn fromthat. But youve got to remember that were going to build an airplanethat will be analogous to the 707 in terms of its game-changing impact.My prediction is airplanes will be built like this for the next seventy-fiveto eighty-five years.
This book traces the almost decade-long story of the 787 from itsearliest roots to the start of flight-testing and illustrates how thisprocess reshaped Boeing and much of the industry along the way. It isalso a tale of human endeavor and innovation on a gigantic scale andis a testament to a project team determined to overcome seeminglyinsurmountable obstacles blocking the long runway to the sky.