|Boeing 787 Dreamliner During High Speed Taxi Tests Image: Boeing|
|Artist's Rendering of The Sonic Cruiser: If Boeing Doesn't Build it The Japanese and The Chinese Most Certainly Will Image: Boeing|
|Airbus A380 Image: Airbus|
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:
|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|
|Airbus "Flight Experience Transparency" Concept Airliner Image: Airbus|
|Delivery of 787 Aircraft to Launch Customer ANA at Everett, WA|
Production Facilities in September 2011
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. 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.
|Boeing 707 Image: Boeing|
To be continued next week...