The Making of Boeing 777

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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER044
Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 1990-2004
Organization : Boeing
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : US
Industry : Aircraft Manufacturing

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"The "Triple-Seven" unites an amount of superlative degrees: She is the biggest twin-jet airliner, the most modern long distance jet and in the opinion of the passengers, the most comfortable one. It is also the most successful one with more than 500 firm (fixed) orders and a share of the market of 70 percent. 777 is a Boeing answer to the market trend in the international air traffic."


"A survey was conducted in 1999 and 2000 worldwide, and it was found that the Boeing 777 was preferred by more than 75% who flew aboard the Boeing 777 and Airbus 330/340 airplanes. As a pilot who has flown both types of airplanes, I still prefer the Boeing 777 in terms of comfort and spaciousness."1

- KH Lim, Freelance Pilot.

"The efficiency, operating economics and range of the 777 are unsurpassed."

- Alan Mulally, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The Need for Boeing 777

When the US-based airplane manufacturer, Boeing Airplane Company (Boeing), announced the development of a new airplane model - Boeing 777 - in the late 1980s, many aviation experts wondered about the rationale behind the decision. They questioned the need for a new model since Boeing's highly successful 747 model had been flying successfully for over 30 years (Refer Exhibit I for a brief note on Boeing 747). Aviation experts argued that Boeing was unnecessarily spending a huge amount of money to develop a new model, whose size, capacity and convenience was, in their opinion, roughly similar to the existing 747. They added that designing and developing a new aircraft was a highly complex affair.

Operations Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

They suggested that if Boeing wanted to increase efficiency for operators and convenience for passengers, it could improve the features of the existing 747, which would ultimately be much cheaper than developing a new aircraft - the 777.

However, Boeing countered experts' argument: "Why do auto manufacturers keep improving their latest models to suit customers' needs? Because they are dynamic and market-driven and don't want to be out of business by hanging on to old models." Boeing felt that airplane manufacturers, like auto manufacturers, had to keep innovating new airplane models if they wanted to survive in the competitive world. To cut costs on designing and developing the new 777 model, Boeing adopted a unique process. For the first time in aircraft manufacturing history, Boeing adopted a collaborative designing and development process that involved customers, air carriers, technicians, finance experts, computer experts and even other aircraft manufacturers.

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1]  "Why Boeing 777? How about Boeing 747, A330/340 or MD-11?,"


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