Monday, July 9, 2007

A date with dreamy jets

This past Saturday, July 7, 2007, marketers had a field day with the plethora of sevens in the date 7-7-07. A matching month, day, and year occurs only 12 times each century, just one out of every 3,043 days.

Courtesy of Wal-Mart, seven couples had free weddings Saturday at seven Supercenter stores. Papa John’s pizza held a sweepstakes with “777 ways to win.” And the Lake Las Vegas Ritz-Carlton offered a one-night package for a 7th floor deluxe room, a seven course dinner, 70 minute spa treatments, and a seven-themed breakfast for seven, uh, I mean two, all for only $777.

Companies are already making plans for August 8 next year. But Boeing didn’t have to wait. Yesterday Boeing had July 8, 2007 as their special day because Boeing unveiled a new jet airplane called the 787 Dreamliner. Fifteen thousand employees and customers got the first look in a hangar base in Everett, WA – Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2001 but maybe four years after Mayor Daley closed Meigs Field Chicago wasn’t the first choice to launch a new jet – with 25,000 more watching from a downtown football stadium.

They have good reason to celebrate: Boeing has $110 billion worth of orders for 677 planes. Recent customers include Air Berlin, a German carrier, Aviation Lease and Finance Company of Kuwait, and Qantas Airways. Makes the iPhone launch seem like chump change!

The planes are popular because they are long-distance, the 800 model going 9,570 miles, and fuel-efficient, saving 20% over similarly-sized jets.

Alas what those 40,000 folks didn’t see on the rollout were 1,000 temporary fasteners that need to be replaced, and a half-empty fuselage that’s missing 60 miles of wiring and the avionics that still need to be installed and tested. But production is sold out through 2014, history’s biggest selling new commercial jet.

One jet that’s ready for prime time is at the other end of the spectrum. The Eclipse Aviation 500 is a business VLJ – very light jet – that seats six. Fully loaded with fuel it weighs under 6,000 lbs, and Eclipse is estimated to have $3 billion in advance orders making the 787 Dreamliner 82 times its weight and but only 37 times its order book.

Whatever date you use, it looks like both Eclipse and Boeing have come up with triple 7.

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