An Exclusive interview with Darren HULST, Boeing Vice President, for Commercial Marketing
Aviation Turkey: Can we start our interview with getting an overview of Boeing’s perspective on the first 6 months of 2023? How many orders have you received for commercial airplanes, and how many of them have been delivered during the first half of 2023?
Darren Hulst: I guess the best way to talk about the first half of 2023 is that we're moving very close to full recovery in most parts of the world from the pandemic, back to pre-COVID levels of traffic. We've seen an acceleration across the world. In fact, Europe and North America are essentially back to pre-pandemic levels, and in Türkiye, there are very strong levels of traffic both domestically and internationally. Order activity and demand for aircraft have never been higher. In fact, to the point where our aircraft products are sold out well into the middle or the end of this decade because of the strong demand as airlines look to find new technology aircraft to replace and grow their fleets for both short and long-haul service.
Aviation Turkey: Boeing has had a presence in the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa for around 75 years. Boeing has offices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Türkiye, South Africa, Egypt, Kuwait, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Today, the Middle East, Türkiye & Africa (META) region is one of the world’s fastest-growing commercial airplane markets. How much of Boeing’s commercial airplanes business comes from the META region? How important is it to you globally? What potential does the META market have?
Darren Hulst: It's more than 10 percent. In terms of long-term demand, we see the Middle East, including Türkiye, well over 10 percent of demand. Türkiye sits between Europe and the Middle East in many definitions of regional demand. What I find fascinating about the Turkish market is its strong local market domestically and its favorable geography for traffic to and from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It's perfectly positioned for growth, not just in the short term, but in the long term as well.
Aviation Turkey: How important is the Middle East market for you?
Darren Hulst: It's critically important to us because it's a crossroads of people, economies, and trade. It's also a great way for connections to be made, especially these days, we see a lot of long-haul international traffic connecting through the Middle East region. This region connects vibrant emerging markets with strong economies, both in Europe and North America, making it very important to Boeing. I believe we have strong partners in the region.
Aviation Turkey: Do you currently have potential customers in the region?
Darren Hulst: We're always in discussions. We work closely with all our customers, but we don't talk about individual deals. Nevertheless, we are absolutely excited about the potential in the market.
Aviation Turkey: In 2022, the commercial aviation market started to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this time, even though there was a rapid increase in demand, it exceeded the global aviation industry’s ability to adapt and maintain adequate service to meet this demand. Do you expect the current supply chain problems, mainly stemming from labor shortages at medium and small suppliers, to continue in 2023?
Darren Hulst: I think we are seeing more stability starting to come into our supply chain. Obviously, it's a challenge that will remain with us in some form for more than just this year. But I think we're seeing positive signs in terms of our ability to get our products from our supply chain in a more-timely manner. But I think, most importantly, we're making long-term investments that we need to support market growth in the region.
Aviation Turkey: What innovative technology areas will Boeing focus on in the near term?
Darren Hulst: There are so many things to talk about with our new products. The 737 Max family, the 787 family, and even the 777X, which is entering service in 2025, all result in efficiency savings well above 20 percent over the aircraft they replace. These technologies are the first we're bringing to market, but we're never sitting back and waiting for innovations for our next products in the next 10 years or the years after that. Sustainable aviation fuel is a key element of our sustainability strategy, helping to provide and influence the market to invest in the scale of those fuels that we will need to help decarbonize commercial aviation.
Aviation Turkey: Can you tell us more about your sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) activities, which have been a core focus in recent years?
Darren Hulst: The four main areas that we're looking at in terms of supporting our sustainable goals, one is in the near term, replacing old aircraft with new technology aircraft, and that's a huge savings for the airlines in terms of cost but also, in terms of emissions. Second piece is helping the industry and the infrastructure of aviation work more efficiently, whether it is air traffic control or other ways for more efficient routing of aircraft. And the third piece is I think the biggest as we look to between now and 2040-2050 investing in and providing the scale of sustainable aviation fuel that the industry needs is the only way for the industry to reach its target. The last piece is probably the one that's the longest in terms of achieving it, but its new technologies, its where do we go for the next type of aircraft and what technologies will form the basis for future new airplanes in our lifetime?
Aviation Turkey: In November 2020, Boeing received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return the 737 MAX to operations. However, in April 2023, Boeing paused deliveries of its best-selling 737 MAX aircraft due to production issues stemming from a supplier’s “non-standard manufacturing process” on the aft section of the fuselage. Have you resolved this issue? Can you provide an update on the current status of 737 MAX production and deliveries? How many airlines around the world are currently flying the 737 MAX, and what feedback have you received on its safe return to service?
Darren Hulst: I'll start with the feedback from our customers has been incredibly positive. In many cases our airline customers are seeing more savings in terms of the performance of the aircraft than what we even told them and so even more benefit than what they planned. Their passengers are very excited to fly the aircraft because it's quieter. Obviously, it’s a great passenger experience that builds on what we had 737NG, but as it relates to deliveries. We did pause deliveries briefly in April 2023. We since resumed deliveries at the end of April and last month (May) delivered well over thirty-seven 737 MAXs, it's something that we continue to always watch. I mean our supply chain, our own production to make sure, we deliver the highest quality products, and we will continually make sure and ensure our processes are stable, safe and ultimately provide the best products to our customers.
We are constantly working with our suppliers, our supply chain and our own processes to make sure that, like I said, we have the best quality no matter what. These non-standards, these non-conformances are tiny in some cases even imperceptible, but we want to make sure.
Aviation Turkey: In March 2023, Boeing resolved issues impacting deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner. However, on June 6, 2023, Boeing revealed another quality problem involving fittings on the widebody jets’ horizontal stabilizers, which caused delays in deliveries of some 787 Dreamliners. Can you provide an update on the efforts to fix this quality problem? Have you completed inspections and fixes on all 90 Dreamliners in your inventory?
Darren Hulst: Yes, since then, we have already completed rework on more than five aircraft and delivered our first aircraft since the pause in deliveries. It reflects how important quality is to us and our commitment to delivering the best products to the market. We have resumed deliveries of the 787 and expect this to continue as we complete adjustments and rework on the aircraft.
Aviation Turkey: How is Boeing addressing the future of commercial aviation? What kind of new products do you see a demand for in the coming years? What can the industry expect in terms of new products and services from Boeing to strengthen its market-leading product lineup and meet the evolving needs of global customers?
Darren Hulst: From my perspective, a lot of new technology aircraft are just entering the Market last five years and within the next five years. So, we're bringing new family members to our commercial products, we're continually innovating on our existing families, we're bringing new capability. For example, on the 787 for more range, more efficiency, the 777X will be the best large aircraft of the commercial market has ever seen. So, in the in the next decade and 15 years, it's going to be our customers realizing those efficiencies. But we also are looking for kind of over the horizon to see what else in what technologies will be available and a lot of that depends on engine technology and new aerodynamics but even potentially alternative fuels. And we continue to look at areas like hydrogen, hybrid, electric and also different sizes of aircraft that could achieve commercial use. Because as we know, the most challenging thing is to fly an airplane as big as the 737 or larger with electric batteries. Because the technology isn't there yet, so we're looking at what parts of the market might be disrupted with new technology, and maybe it's the smaller size first.
Aviation Turkey: Can you elaborate on Boeing’s current cooperation with Turkish airline operators? How many orders have you secured from Turkish airline operators for Boeing jetliners, and how many have been delivered in 2022? How many more are expected to be delivered in 2023 to end users?
Darren Hulst: Türkiye remains an incredible growth market and has already proven itself as a significant market. Turkish Airlines, now the largest airline in Europe, operates in a strategic location between Europe and the Middle East, making it a limitless opportunity with a new airport and the geography that Istanbul occupies.
- 1 787-9 to Turkish Airlines in 2023
- 4 MAX to SunExpress in 2022
- 1 MAX and 2 787-9 to Turkish Airlines in 2022
Aviation Turkey: Aiming to increase its passenger numbers by 7.4% to 170 million in the next decade, Turkish Airlines, will order some 600 aircraft in the next decade. During IATA AGM 2023 held in Istanbul during June 4-6, 2023, Turkish Airlines Board and Executive Committee Chairman Ahmet BOLAT disclosed that they will procure 400 narrow-body and 200 wide-body airplanes and the number of aircraft in THY fleet will be increased to 425 by the end of 2023. For narrow-body requirement A320 Neo and B737 Max and for wide-body requirement B787 and A350 are being evaluated. It is also said that the aforementioned 600 aircraft order will also cover some 25 to 30 B77X and A350XWB aircraft. What can you tell us about the status of your negotiations with Turkish Airlines? Does this procurement effort also cover local content or offset issues?
Darren Hulst: Obviously, we are working closely with Turkish Airlines on its fleet needs. In regard to the 600 aircraft, we stand ready to provide to provide the right products for their needs, not just in the near term, but in the long term. We have a strong supply base in Türkiye, and we aim to continue growing it to support the needs of our production and products. Because almost every single one of Boeing aircraft is supplied by parts made in Türkiye and we would continue to develop our relationship.
Aviation Turkey: Negotiations with Turkish Airlines regarding their procurement plans are ongoing, is that correct?
Darren Hulst: I can't speak about individual negotiations, but what I can say is that we have strong partnerships in Türkiye that we aim to continue growing.
Aviation Turkey: What can you tell us about Boeing’s participation at Paris Airshow 2023? Did the event meet your expectations?
Darren Hulst: Paris Airshow is always a great opportunity for us to connect with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders in the industry. While it's not necessarily a time for announcing orders, but if our customers want to, it's another opportunity to do that as well. From our perspective, the strength of the market over the past year since Farnborough Airshow in July 2022, we have taken orders for over 1100 airplanes, reflecting the strength of the market, and we expect this momentum to continue through Paris and beyond.
Aviation Turkey: Is there anything else you'd like to add as a message for our readers?
Darren Hulst: We are excited about the aviation market's resilience and growth. People continue to travel for personal and business reasons, making the world smaller. We are enthusiastic about our products help our airline customers to do that. I think there is a very bright future ahead, not only for our products but also for the Turkish market, which serves as a crucial crossroads of people and places.
Aviation Turkey: Thank you very much