Monday, September 23, 2013

Boeing Has The Suite Spot

Baseball culture has always referred to a place on the bat or ball in that game of hard ball, as the "Sweet Spot". The player trains his eyes on the ball so he may read the ball trajectory, speed, and the spin. In an instance, relying on his twitch muscles at lightening speed, he reacts. The bat tracks to the ball and smacks it with all the energy of muscle and inertia. A millimeter high on the ball contact, its a grounder, and little low its a pop-up and out. A further complication is where on the bat does the ball make contact. The swing catches the ball near the handle its a broken bat grounding. Hitting the ball with the end of the bat will likely sail out of bounds. Hitting it right on the sweet spot on baseball bats, golf clubs and the like (equipment); its a home run, or becomes a short putt from a long drive. Finally, a strong man winner at the county fair, swings the mallet on top of the lever propelling the lead weight to the top for a prize. That my friends, is hitting the Sweet Spot. The precise energy exerted on the right spot at the right moment at the right part of the equipment.

Now Part II is Boeing's Suite Spot. Subtle change in spelling makes a different meaning of significant proportions. However a clever juxtaposition of meaning make an intriguing observation on what has occurred with Boeing's strategy in competitive products. The "bat" = equipment, and the "ball" = The market. Long (2003) ago, Boeing claimed to have a plan no matter what Airbus would do in response to a Boeing hostile take-over of the market place. Step one was a bold move by announcing the 787-3  787-8 with a family suite follow-on.  Boeing held for a long time, an Achilles heal, exposed by Airbus through implementing its own common avionics format for its family of aircraft. Customers really liked that idea and Boeing lost sales. Boeing built one model at a time that flew significantly different from model to model. It took a "real" fighter pilot to master the 727 or 737 or 747 back in the day. Each one was different enough, that a promotion may require up to six month of additional training for qualifying on the next model up and a different maintenance team trained for years to service the aircraft. The Boeing 787 was the "die" that was cast, to make all future flight decks and systems fly similar, becoming a true suite of aircraft into the future. They are all to fly the same whether its a 737 or a 777-X. The only visible tradition remaining is the flight input yoke. Airbus went with the video game type side stick. Systems are what make the aircraft fly today when being called the Next Generation.

Part III: The Suite spot or sweet spot metaphor is that bat, the twitch muscle and vision guiding the ball over the fence, but with a whole team of aircraft. Going the distance, whether its short and far, it carries the crowd sitting in the bleaches, to every destination. My rhetorical question, did Boeing dupe Airbus, by Boeing throwing  the 787-8 forward after which Airbus went for the fences with the A-350 family of Aircraft?

Now Boeing is coming back with the 787-9, 10 and 777-X9 and 777-X8.  Please add on the 737-7-8-9 where they all share commonalities of the flight deck. Commonalities is what Boeing is taking to the market place from top to bottom. It is its, "Suite Spot". The home run is the swing of the Boeing bat hitting the ball on the fat part of the market clear over the fence. Airbus may have built bigger bats, swinging at smaller balls (A-380) or lock into a three plane market with its A-350 family. Now Boeing will propose a true efficient mini jumbo after Airbus starts flying its A-350-9 around the French country side in response the 787-8 from five years ago. Boeing brings out the the right sized mega beast that flies  like a 787-8, which flies similar to the 737 Max. The Boeing tool box has important tools from small to large, servicing the world market, you know, those people sitting in the bleachers catching home runs each time Boeing takes off and hits the Suite Spot.

Batting order:           1         2         3         4         5           6          7           8           9
The line -up: 737-7  737-8  737-9  787-8  787-9  787-10 777-8X  777-9X  747-8i

The Commonality Factor Flow Chart Starts Below:

The 737 Max Family of Aircraft

The 787 Family of Aircraft

The 777-X Family of Aircraft

The Queen Of The Skies 747-8I

From the line-up, 1-9 are commonalities that can train-up crews quickly, additionally it sets standards that models will adhere to when passengers board an aircraft. Maintenance will know what to expect, and the flying public will know they are on a Boeing the minute they are seated. Commonality is a powerful selling point for broad and wide fleets. Fortunately Boeing has caught up with that message received from Airbus, and now is beating it at its own game. Game score, Boeing is up in the 9X inning with the lead.