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Boeing Moves Towards New Planes 291

maliabu writes "Boeing has named its new plane DreamLiner with plans for its future, which is set to fly in 2008. It'll be interesting to see how 'internet-ready' this 7E7 is. It can be very entertaining for all ages as you can brower the net, check emails, weather, watch movies (on demand), listen to music (on demand) or even cut codes some 30,000 feet in the sky! These articles also stated that "The 200-seat 7E7 is meant to replace [a faster plane called] Sonic Cruiser as Boeing's next new major commercial initiative" " I think most people following the airplane builders knew the Sonic Cruiser was dead before birth; but I still don't see how this plane is going to solve Boeing's sales problems.
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Boeing Moves Towards New Planes

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  • yeah.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by floydman ( 179924 ) <> on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:08AM (#6210848)
    i like to code when i am high, now i can do that without going to my local dealer..
  • Travel Easy (Score:4, Funny)

    by canwaf ( 240401 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:10AM (#6210853) Homepage Journal
    Now people can fill out their "Mile High Club" membership forms before landing...
  • No thanks (Score:5, Funny)

    by worst_name_ever ( 633374 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:11AM (#6210859)
    It can be very entertaining for all ages as you can brower the net

    Sorry, not interested in browering during a plane trip, but as soon as they install a brewery I'll be the first to buy a ticket!

    • Ah, memories (Score:2, Informative)

      by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) *
      [...] but as soon as they install a brewery I'll be the first to buy a ticket!

      Not that it was quite a brewery, but the now defunct Swissair did roll a barrell of beer into the first - and business class cabin on a flight to Chicago.

      Not that I really needed a beer at that time, but the concept was so intriguing, that I er! topped off my slightly intoxicated state.

    • but as soon as they install a brewery I'll be the first to buy a ticket!

      What, the flight is that slow you have time to brew something up? :P
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) * on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:12AM (#6210866) Homepage Journal
    The new layout:
    • Each seat will have a computer and phone.
    • To provide privacy to the passengers, each seat will have a low wall between it and the next seat.
    • Each seat will be as small as is possible, in order to cram as many passengers as possible into the smallest space.
    • Despite the walls, each passenger will be able to fully "enjoy" the sounds and smells from his fellow passengers.

    In other words, the planes will be flying cubical farms!

    • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @09:05AM (#6211200) Homepage
      I dunno about flying. More likely it'll taxi around in circles on the runway until it runs out of fuel or accidently takes off. In the event of a take off, the crew will have the option selling out to another airline and bailing for large amounts of money. In the event of a dot.bomb on board, all passengers will be abruptly fired off the plane.
  • I am going later this week, so will have to see it.
    If any thing decent will post.
  • They have to (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kamukwam ( 652361 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:15AM (#6210880) Journal
    Boeing has to come with something new. This year will probably be the first year that Airbus will sell more [] planes than Boeing.
    • Re:They have to (Score:3, Informative)

      by tbaggy ( 151760 )
      So far, Airbus has a nice []
    • Airbus was expecting to sell 175 aircraft this year. It's now revised its estimates upwards, to 300, despite the major downturn in the air travel business. Clearly, it's winning a lot of business and some of that business is being poached from Boeing.

      The twin-deck, four-aisle A380, which can sit 800 passengers in an all-economy configuration or 550 in a mixed configuration, is already flying off the shelves (if you'll pardon the pun) - Emirates, one of the Middle East's biggest carriers has just ordered 41
      • re:Not only is Boeing trying to compete with what many consider is an inferior product...

        If you mean Boeing's products are inferior, I have to strongly disagree. I have flown both and find that on the issue of quality, Boeing has a significant advantage. Boeing also have a better approach to automation. However, Airbus are more afordable and cheaper to operate and maintain because they have achieved commonality (training, maintainence, parts) across models that Boeing have yet to achieve.
  • Boeing Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by HowlinMad ( 220943 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:18AM (#6210902) Homepage Journal
    Here is the link [] to the 7E7 site on boeing webpage. It has a few mock-ups so you can see what it looks like.
    • Oh what a shame, its so, so, so - dull...

      Yes I know its all a result of computer-aided design and the quest for efficiency, but don't all planes look alike these days? If they didn't put a label next to the cabin door you'd never know what you're getting on.

      Are we doomed to look-alike planes from now on? No more Comets or VC10s?

      Hell, even Concorde will soon be out of service - what a dull world.

      Oops I just realised all those good-looking planes were British, I'm sure America has produced a good-look

    • Or, you could skip the link and just look at a 707, 757, 767 or 777. (Of course, if you look at a 727, 737 or 747 you'll see amazingly successful, innovative designs but Boeing doesn't do innovation anymore)
  • by FauxReal ( 653820 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:23AM (#6210935) Homepage
    You think they'll make a special "Fly along with your captain." version of MS Flight Simulator?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:24AM (#6210939)
    The Sonic Cruiser idea was to take a bunch of process and technology improvements that Boeing have developed and at the SAME cost of operations, create a bigger/better/faster plane.

    Same Money, More Zing!

    But nobody wanted to buy it...

    SO! This NEW plane, takes the same new developments, and essentially creates a plane that fits in a current purchasing slot and (MAIN POINT HERE) costs 25% less to run.

    Airlines will buy this plane in droves because it will be SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper to run, saving a fortune in jet fuel. 25% decrease in costs means a realistic chance of getting your profits back, which given the current world situation, is a big selling point.

    The plane will sell itself. Stuff the internal features. That's just fluff.
    • The problem for Boeing is of course that the new Airbus models offer similar savings, and is substantially further along in orders and deployment. THe droves have so far failed to materialize.

    • Nope. The Sonic Cruiser sales were fine. American ordered the first two years total production just to make sure that they'd be the only ones flying the only distinctive plane in the sky.
  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by NETHED ( 258016 ) * on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:25AM (#6210943) Homepage
    Enjoy []
  • how... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by volgers ( 545215 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:28AM (#6210961) Homepage

    As someone working in the aerospace industry I cannot help but wonder: how do these guy expect to develop such a plane in such a very short time? Unless it is heavily based on an existing design. Usually it takes up to 10 years to bring a plane up to production.

    Anybody some information about that?

    • Looking at the pictures and the "technical data" at boings site, the 'new 7E7 is basicly a 7whatever7 (ie; the same basic airframedesign they have streached, shrinked, expanded and elongated since the first 707 was drawn) with some new lightweight materials and some more efficent engines on the wings. So it's not as much a new plane as a rehash of an old one.

      On the other hand, it makes sence to base the design on a known, working design. Less cost in retraining aircrew and technical personell, known to wo

      • It is a brand new plane. In Business Week they were saying that this will be the world's first entirely composite plane. There will be no aluminum whatsoever. THIS IS HIGH RISK boys and girls. But it might also pay amazing dividends....

        Who knows....
    • As someone working in the aerospace industry I cannot help but wonder: how do these guy expect to develop such a plane in such a very short time? Unless it is heavily based on an existing design. Usually it takes up to 10 years to bring a plane up to production.

      Some quotes []:
      • Advances in materials are allowing the team to evaluate new composite and aluminum possibilities
      • the team is looking at incorporating health-monitoring systems that will allow the airplane to self-monitor and report maintenance requir
      • It is expected that advances in engine technology will contribute as much as 8 percent of the increased efficiency

        This thing is 10% more efficient, and 8% of it is due to new engines? Great, Airbus can just install the new engines on its planes and get almost all the benefits, then.

        This is just a normal plane. The A380 was hyped to boast a piano lounge etc., but of course that's at the discretion of the customer. I'm willing to bet most of the 7E7s would be as well equipped as most of the new A330/340 a

    • I know that in the auto industry, they have dramatically shortened the vehicle development process from 40+ months to about 18 months by doing more steps in parallel and reusing existing deisgns as much as possible. (Note that when I say 'reusing existing designs' this doesn't mean necessarily the whole design of the car, but of various pieces of the car, and manfacturing tools and fixtures and stuff.)

      I suspect that you could do similar things in the airline business. After all, the company I work for ma
    • #include "/plane_stuff/fly-by-wire/777.h"

  • Every time a news station or reporter takes a picture, they'll claim that they've broken the DMCA and demand money!

    In reality, it'll be interesting to see how they can persuade buyers to those planes over others. Many airlines use planes that are from the 70's and 80's because of the costs in purchasing (and leasing) the aircraft these days and because of all the issues flying these days.

    • Will it incorporate the iLoo?
    • Will it do IPv6?
    • Will passengers have "elbow room"?
    • Are passengers allowed to run a server up there? (mmmm... imagine slashdotting a boeing)
  • by Domino ( 12558 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:32AM (#6210982) Homepage
    There is almost nothing new with this airplane. Its baiscally a modernized 757/767 with more fuel-efficient engines and light-weight material. Similar materials are used on the Airbus A380. I am not an airbus fan, but something like the A380 is just way more spectacular than this. Even the new 747-800 that was just announced is a way cooler airplane.

    E for e-enabled? Come on! Conexxion by Boeing can be put into pretty much every Boeing and probably most other major aircraft as well. I had a lot of fun on Lufthansa LH418 surfing the net 30000 feet above Iceland and I would really like to see this on every long-haul flight. But there's no need for a new airplane to offer this, its already there. Lufthansa will soon offer this on most of their trans-atlantic flights.

    They rely on marketing to make this plane look like something so spectacular that it deserves a "real" name (not sticking to the 7x7 tradition). But the technology is plain boring. I can understand their decision, given the current market situation, but trying to sell this as something extraordinary is prettty dumb.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There is almost nothing new with this airplane.

      Well, let's see... airplanes are generally divided up into three main parts: airframe, propulsion, and controls. The 7E7 is an all new airframe (likely of primarily composite construction for the first time in a commercial aircraft), will use all new engines (significantly more efficient than any existing engines), and will be only the second Boeing aircraft to use fly-by-wire controls (previously used by Boeing only on the 777). In other words, in compari

  • This company is annoucing plans for a product that does not exist. I'm guessing they're doing this so that other airlines don't order from Airbus in the next few years before this plane is ready. This sounds like the game some technology companies played and lost big. Think Osborne.

    Since a lot of companies are moving away from hub and spoke systems, it's going to be tough for Boeing until they have more offerings outside the long haul market.
  • Sales problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spudley ( 171066 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:41AM (#6211037) Homepage Journal
    How can anything solve Boeing's sales problem when there's whole fleets of aircraft sitting idle in the desert?

    I'd have thought the airlines will bring those back into service before they start buying new planes.
    • Re:Sales problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:48AM (#6211078) Homepage
      Many of those older aircraft are too expensive to fly today. Factor in the cost of bringing those planes up to scratch, retrofitting them to comply with steadily tighter emissions and noise regulations, the higher fuel consumption, and the added costs for each plane type you have in service (you need pilots and mechanics current in each aircraft type, for instance). It turns out it's cheaper to buy new planes instead.

      Most of those aircraft will never fly again. /Janne
      • A lot of those planes are older. A lot of the idle planes are also being scrapped (used) for parts. But, a lot of those planes are modern units that are simply idle due to reductions in air travel (fewer people flying since 9/11 and new restrictions in place...)
  • by thelandp ( 632129 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:44AM (#6211049)
    I work for Qantas, and right now the forward bookings for the next six months are down approx. 60% compared to previous years (because of Terrorism, SARS, SLOPS (severe lack of perspective syndrome)). Not sure we'll be needing new planes anytime soon.
  • by kahei ( 466208 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:44AM (#6211051) Homepage
    'cut codes'? You mean 'write computer programs'?

    Am I getting old? Or have you just been reading wayyy too many cyberpunk novels?

    • Naw, it's apparently a translation of a northern european slang term...

  • by Desolation Row ( 550944 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:51AM (#6211093)
    According to the current issue of the Economist [], it's not what you build, it's how you bribe.
  • Innovation Needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eugene_t00ms ( 599365 ) <> on Monday June 16, 2003 @08:57AM (#6211141)
    It seems to me that maybe Boeing is producing too little too late. As the Airbus representative said, "This is a market where we already have an airplane." And weâ(TM)re talking 5 YEARS away from rolling off the assembly line. They havenâ(TM)t even chose a site for manufacturing yet!

    So it seems to me they have a few things to get ironed out if they have any chance of competingâ¦.

    A) Tall people on 20-hour trans-Atlantic flights NEED MORE LEG ROOM! (Iâ(TM)m 6â(TM)3â or 195 cm) Iâ(TM)d WEEP FOR JOY and never ride in a competitorâ(TM)s plane again if I stepped aboard and found that I could comfortably plant my ass in a seat without having to put myself in uncomfortable positions to accommodate my long legs.

    B) Some sort of ACTUAL reclining would be nice. Iâ(TM)m sure its possible to allow just as many people to board a flight and provide a little comfort without the fear that youâ(TM)re cramping the passenger behind you even more.

    C) Iâ(TM)m sure all those 6 figure a year making brainy-boys out at Boeing could do a little tinkering and figure out SOME way of allowing passengers to use assorted electronic gadgetry on flights without causing nose-dives and fiery apocalyptic deaths for everyone on board. Perhaps some sort of array of jacks on the back of the seats that would allow all outgoing and incoming transmissions from said gadgetry to be channeled through a single antennae or array that could be monitored and checked against the data coming to the pilot in the cockpit, thereby avoiding disaster and making customers happier.

    D) Do something about the food. Good lord you could excavate a TV dinner from the 1970s out of a landfill, heat it up and it would be more palatable than the garbage they serve on some flightsâ¦*cough cough* United *cough cough*

    In my infinitely humble opinion, if Boeing would catch on to consumer demand and implement a few or all of these suggestions theyâ(TM)d be able to truly revolutionize the airline industry and make a few billion in the process and thus enhance shareholder confidence along with personal assets!
    • The planes from both Airbus and Boeing have "economy", "standard" and "luxury" seating configurations. Guess which configuration gets used by the airlines most.

    • by spagiola ( 234461 )
      Most of what you ask for is decided by airlines, not aircraft manufacturers. Leg room is a function of spacing between seats. And that's something the airline decides, not the manufacturer. The manufacturer affects the width of the seats, because that's constrained by the width of the fuselage tube (the reason that seats on Boeing's narrowbodies like the 737 and 757 are an inch narrower than on Airbus narrowbodies like the A320 is that the 737 fuselage is still based on that designed for the 707 in the late
    • Its not really fair to blame boeing for the seat pitch and reclining. The standard seat pitch that the airlines order seem to be 30 inch in economy. Boeing can change the seat pitch if you specify it when you order it.Privatair runs a fleet of 737s with a seat pitch of 55 inches IIRC (read it sometime ago on boeing website) . It just happens that your "ultra-cheap" airlines order the lowest possible one. If you have a serious problem you can fly first or business class (39 inches pitch, i think), and you se
      • The seats are on rails running fore-and-aft, so the airlines could increase/decrease seat pitch on a literally day-by-day basis by taking out a row or two of seats and easing the rest apart. The seat width is determined by Boeing, and as I posted elsewhere, the 7E7 has the space for an extra inch of width per passenger.
  • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @09:08AM (#6211216)
    I think Boeing has identified the following rationales for the 7E7 design:

    1. A lot of older widebody twin-engine airliners are going to have to be replaced before 2010. The older Airbus A300B2/B4 models are starting to be phased out from airline fleets, as are the older production 767's dating from the early to mid 1980's.

    2. The plane's very modern use of aerospace materials will mean relatively low weight of the plane carrying 200-250 passengers, lowering the fuel burn on a seat-mile basis. This means lower fuel costs on routes anywhere between 2,000 to 7,500 nautical miles.

    3. Because the 7E7 will use contemporary aerodynamic research, the plane could actually fly faster than the 747-400, if the right engine design can be found. This means the possibility of Mach 0.89 to 0.90 cruise speed, which offers most of the benefits of the Sonic Cruiser with far technical risk in terms of new technology needed.

    4. The plane will offer Boeing's Connexion broadband Internet access system as standard on the longer-range models. Imagine being able to access the Internet at minimum one megabits per second download speed in flight.

    I think you'll be surprised how many airlines actually DO want a more efficient medium to long range 200-250 seat airliner with reasonably high cruise speeds. While the Airbus A330-200 has been a sale success, the plane is still too heavy and big for many airlines and its cruise speed still can't keep up with the Boeing 777-200ER's and 747-400's that dominate longer range flying today.
  • Because the 7E7 is Boeing's latest vaporware. Yes, vaporware exists in other industries, not just I.T.
  • by mike449 ( 238450 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @09:23AM (#6211326)
    I am not sure if Boeing is currently supplying anything major to the USAF, but there is probably still an internal conflict of interests.
    To sell more commercial jets, they need world peace and real (not percieved) end to terrorism. They can pursue this by lobbying and puching the US administration in the direction of sanity.
    However, if their military contracts bring more money, there is more profit in pushing in the opposite direction.
    • by MtViewGuy ( 197597 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @10:01AM (#6211706)
      I think one possibility is that Boeing may be pushing for sales of airplanes based on the 7E7 design to the USAF.

      This means air-refuelling tankers, 2-3 VIP transports, a combination AWACS/JSTARS airborne radar platform and Electronic Intelligence/Signals Intelligence (ELINT/SIGINT) planes to replace the aging RC-135W/X fleet.
  • by Bravo_Two_Zero ( 516479 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @09:50AM (#6211593)
    Why? Why? Why?

    Simple. Boeing spent already paid for the new design software that allows them to build without prototypes in the 777 program. Yes, it seems like waste of money to go through the process to design an aircraft that, at the moment, most airlines aren't likely to use. Maybe it is, but it's a gamble, as an earlier poster pointed out.

    Consider this. Your primary competition is subsidized by Europoean governments. They've been touting a 747-killer (the 4xx program) for a couple of years now. Believe it or not, the 747 was (and is, depending on the routes) an extremely profitable aircraft for the airlines. Most of your money comes from cargo on overseas routes. 777s and 767ERs can't match that, though they do have a lower per-seat operational cost.

    You have to have a practical edge to sell to your customers, even when the market is bad. You own the small/midsize market around the world and even in Europe. Sure, the subsidized company takes a bite of your sales. What you can't have is Airbus eclipsing your technological superiority.

    As an added issue, you can't wait until the market appears for the new aircraft. You have to gamble, because modern airliner programs take years to produce a big, soaring hard part. If you wait, Airbus will step in with a new, closer-to-production product, and the preliminary orders will go to them.

    Could Boeing do a better job? Well, sure. Any company can. But don't forget that Boeing created the affordable jetliner era (707), the jumbo jet market (747) and the long-range Pacific-certified twin market (777). McDonnell Douglas gets the nod for the small jet market (DC-9), but they're now part of Boeing. So, they don't have an awful track record at picking markets. The added benefit is that Airbus tends to follow the Boeing lead, so they have to spend money on similar design programs in case Boeing hits paydirt.
  • Do any major airplane manufacturers envision any ground-effect models? Just curious.
  • by EQ ( 28372 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @10:26AM (#6211972) Homepage Journal
    "I still don't see how this plane is going to solve Boeing's sales problems."

    Consider that 800 737s are in the air worldwide at any given time. One 737 takes off every 6 seconds on average world-wide (per the NTSB). Its become the DC-3 of the latter quarter of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st.

    Also consider that the 737 is coming to the end of its design lifecycle with the -700 series. And the 757 has been partially superseded by the 767, yet nothing quite fills its old niche (737 too small, 767 too big).

    Airlines are looking for cheaper to operate, more fuel efficient aircraft that will lure back the business traveler, in the 180-210 passenger size (which probably constitutes a majority of the revenues for regional and US carriers).

    The 7E7 fits that description quite well. So thats why they are spending the money - theres a market for this aircraft, the same market Boeing has dominated with the 737/757, and one that will be opening up by the time this aircraft becomes operational. The biggest gain is in operating efficiency (modular electronics, easier crew servicing of aircraft, etc) and fuel efficiency.

    As an example, if United could drop its operating and fuel costs both by 10% annually, it would be profitable to the tune of several hundred million dollars, instead of in bankruptcy court.
    • I think Boeing's next airplane project after the 7E7 will be developing a replacement for the 737-600/700/800/900 series.

      It will probably be a revival of the 7J7 project from the late 1980's, but instead of a propfan engine (though I think modern technology could make a propfan viable again) the new plane could use uprated CFM56 or V2500 engines. The plane will likely seat about 120 to 170 passengers, sport a wider fuselage, will likely use the same composite-heavy structural design being planned for the 7
  • Answers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ordord00 ( 17347 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @11:13AM (#6212567)
    I think most people following the airplane builders knew the Sonic Cruiser was dead before birth; but I still don't see how this plane is going to solve Boeing's sales problems.

    The main problem Boeing is facing is that Airbus has the most efficient long haul carrier as of right now. The 7E7 is expected to be ~20% more efficient than Airbus' long hauler.

    Several people here have asked a couple of questions that I think need to be addressed:

    1) How is this going to solve Boeings sales problems?

    Well, this is not expected to be a cure all for Boeing. Being 20% more efficient than Airbus' best long haul carrier will go a long way to making inroads for sales. Other things being done by Boeing include redesigning the 737 (a short range carrier) with winglets and new composite materials to reduce weight and creating new version of the 747 (the 400ER). The first 400ER was just delivered to Korean Airlines this week.

    Internationally, there are other reasons Boeing has a hard time competing. []

    2) How can Boeing design a plane in such a short time?

    I saw someone answer that large reuse of old designs, such as using the same general airframe and what not, made it possible. The problem is that the 7E7 does not use the standard 7x7 airframe. The standard is usually called a double bubble and if you look at any previous 7x7 you will see what I mean. The 7E7 will have a single bubble airframe. This is a new design for Boeing.

    How will they develop the plane so fast? Two ways: First a large portion of the electronics and other interior assemblies are being contracted out to other companies. Boeing will act as a large system integrator. Second, Boeing learned how to overcome the prototype manufacturing problems that crop up when moving from paper to the "real thing" with the 777. Using Catia and some other CAD programs Boeing can assemble a plane on computer before assembling it in real life thus allowing them to fix all the pieces that do not properly fit before manufacture. This used to be a major factor in the time to market for planes.

    3) How internet ready will it be?

    Probably as internet ready as some of Boeings other planes [].
    • Re:Answers (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is true that Airbus has problems with corruption, but it is completely hypocritical to say "poor Boeing has trouble competing with corrupt Airbus".

      Fact is Boeing is every bit as corrupt as Airbus. See for example this ( .html) where they tried lease some planes to the govt for 9 billion more than it would cost to buy them.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl