Michael Sinnett, Vice president and general manager of product development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

The year 2020 encountered much turbulence as the aeronautics industry was hit full-on by the health crisis related to COVID-19. A major global phenomenon, this crisis was also the opportunity for aircraft manufacturers to hone their strategies in the face of the big challenges of decarbonizing their business. Michael Sinnett, Vice President and General Manager of Product Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes gives us the rundown of the directions and goals pursued by Boeing.

Michael Sinnett, Vice president and general manager of product development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

4 minutes, 20 secondes

JEC Composites Magazine: As the aerospace industry is coming together again at large gatherings, what is your take on the future of air transport?
Michael Sinnett:
“Air travel connects the world. By 2050, it is expected to carry over 10 billion passengers a year, support 180 million jobs and generate nearly $9 trillion in economic activity. As an aerospace industry, we have a responsibility to ensure we grow safely and sustainably. Innovation and partnerships are key to our success. We are focused on expanding capabilities and offerings in key areas such as analytics, autonomy, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and fabrication, automation, data-driven services, and aerodynamics, with safety, quality and sustainability at the core of these efforts.”

JEC Composites Magazine: The future of aviation was a topic of discussion even before the COVID-19 crisis. Has this exceptional period shuffled the deck for potential programs? Has it liberated or catalyzed innovation at Boeing, as we have noticed within other companies?
Michael Sinnett: “Throughout our long history of innovation, Boeing has looked for ways to improve sustainability. In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, Boeing put additional emphasis on it by formalizing a sustainability organization and partnering across the industry to decarbonize aerospace. We published our first Sustainability Report in July 2021. We will also continue to invest in our global workforce and new processes and technologies that will help us become safer and more efficient and sustainable as we help define the future of aerospace together.”

Boeing 777X in flight

JEC Composites Magazine: In the face of environmental concerns, what is the Boeing Company’s sustainable development strategy pillars? What are the main avenues for improvement/development that would enable it to attain energy sobriety?
Michael Sinnett: “From a customer’s initial request to the creation of the aircraft or product to its use and eventual retirement, every stage along the way can be engineered with sustainability and our environment in mind. This is Boeing’s life-cycle approach to sustainability: design, build and deliver each of its products and services with the highest standards of safety, quality and integrity. The following stages of our product lifecycle are informed by sustainable practices: sales; design and technology; materials and feedstocks; parts; building and testing products; product use; and end of service.

Beyond that, Boeing supports our industry’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and we are partnering across the sector to decarbonize aerospace with a four pillar strategy, including fleet renewal, operational efficiencies, renewable energy transition with an emphasis on sustainable aviation fuels, and advanced technology in power systems and platforms.”

Loyal Wingman part of the future of air combat (@Boeing Australia)

JEC Composites Magazine: In 2022, the ecoDemonstrator will celebrate its 10-year anniversary. What are the main insights you have drawn from it on the importance of composite materials in aerospace?
Michael Sinnett: “The ecoDemonstrator program has been invaluable in helping us to evaluate near and mid-term technologies to integrate sustainability into our product life cycle. One example is enhancing our understanding of the benefits of composite materials. For example, we know how composites reduce weight to enable more energy efficiency, particularly on the 787. An example of additional learning is how we’ve advanced our knowledge of the acoustic performance of recycled composites in the airplane interiors, helping to better tailor performance.”

JEC Composites Magazine: What are the recent developments of Boeing in the field of composite materials?
Michael Sinnett: “Boeing performs research and development across many aspects of composite materials and technologies. The most exciting recent results are evident in the 777X composite wing. That jet is the largest and most fuel-efficient twin-engine jet in the world. The 777X will deliver 10% lower fuel use and emissions and 10% lower operating costs than the competition. Another example is the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, an uncrewed aerial vehicle, which uses composite materials and leverages advanced resin-infusion processes to help enable aircraft performance and agility.”

Boeing unveils first Loyal Wingman aircraft

JEC Composites Magazine: What leads are you pursuing to optimize the life cycle of your composite parts? What are, in your opinion, the improvements that could be made in order to introduce the concept of “circularity” in the usage of advanced materials?
Michael Sinnett: “Circularity is a fundamental aspect in the use of advanced materials. It will ensure the most sustainable economy for all material producers and manufacturers. We explored this early in our composite material developments. Boeing pioneered a path for aerospace-grade composite recycling. Our vision was that the growth of the use of composites meant that we needed to also develop and demonstrate a viable second use for those materials. For example, the excess carbon fiber from aerospace composite manufacturing could become the feedstock for another process and product such as laptop cases or railway undercarriages. The faster the materials community adopts the concept of circularity, from early research and academia through materials developers and users, the better it will be for all involved and the planet.”

JEC Composites Magazine: Natural fibers and bio-based resins hold a prominent place in discussions. Do you think that the solution may effectively be found in Nature?
Michael Sinnett: “Materials for use in aerospace have to meet challenging requirements, both in production and in use. But if nature provides constituents that are more sustainable and can meet those requirements, they certainly can be effective. Early research at Villanova University explored this concept, assessing renewable feedstocks for phenolic resins for airplane compatibility. Boeing sponsored some of the Villanova research and fortunately we were able to hire Alicia Piscitelli, who earned her Ph.D. on this topic and is now working alongside our sustainability champions and materials experts at Boeing.”

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More information www.boeing.com