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Supersonics and Manned Craft to Mars aimed by Boeing at Outset of Second Century

Supersonics and Manned Craft to Mars aimed by Boeing at Outset of Second Century
Plans that include ambitious projects for supersonic commercial flight and a rocket that could carry humans to other planets were among the many plans that have been taken up and announced by the Boeing Co to sharpen its focus on innovation to mark its centennial.
Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told reporters at an event marking the company's founding on July 15, 1916 that the process of innovation at Boeing will be "disciplined" and would not be undertaken in any manner which could endanger the future of the world's biggest plane maker.
Over its 10 decades to bring out new planes such as the 707 and 747, numerous "bet the company" moments have been faced by the enterprise that was established by William Boeing in a Seattle boathouse.
"We have won for 100 years because of innovation. The key is disciplined innovation. We'll take risks. We'll invest smartly," Muilenburg said.
Chicago-based Boeing is a major defense and space contractor, producing fighter jets, aerial refueling tankers, communications satellites and rockets and the firm has managed to stay ahead of European rival Airbus in plane production.
Muilenburg said that the possibilities of commercial supersonic and hypersonic planes were being seriously explored by the company. A manned mission to Mars is another ambitious project that the company is working at. "I'm anticipating that person will be riding on a Boeing rocket," Muilenburg said even though those projects are perhaps many decades away.
However in the most immediate period, despite opposition from some in US Congress, licenses to conclude sales of 109 aircraft to Iran is being sought by Boeing. "This is a significant opportunity," he said. "It does represent significant U.S. manufacturing jobs," Muilenburg said.
A so-called "middle of the market" aircraft that could fill a gap in its product line between the 737 and the 787 is still something that the company continues to work and plan on. "Existing products, derivatives of existing products or an all new airplane" could be used to fill the gap by the company, Muilenburg said.
"If it's an all new airplane, we think that would probably be in the 2024-2025 time frame in terms of when it would be introduced into service," he said.
A celebratory weekend of events for an estimated 100,000 employees, families and retirees at Boeing Field in Seattle started last week by Boeing and Muilenburg spoke with reporters at the beginning the events
Compared to any point in its 100-year history, Boeing is arguably much stronger now, Muilenburg said. With orders that have the potential to keep its factories humming for six or seven years, Muilenburg put the backlog of places to be delivered at 5,700 orders.

Innovation in plane design in the factory and services is aimed to be "sharpened and accelerated" by Boeing apart from the company filling the backlog of orders. Muilenburg said that "second-century design in manufacturing, automation, 3-D printing, additive manufacturing" are among such plans and intentions.
"Even though we're arguably the best aerospace company in the world today, we have to continue to invest in innovation," he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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