Aircraft maker Boeing launched a new blog ten days ago - Flight Test Journal, a place where the engineers and test pilots of Boeing's new 777-200LR Worldliner talk about their work in getting the world's longest-range commercial airplane ready for commercial service.
Only two posts so far, but it looks like the scene has been set by Joe Kranak, Chief Engineer, Test and Validation, 747, 767, 777, for for how this blog will develop:
As chief engineer for testing and validation for the 777, I’d like to welcome you to an inside look at the testing leading up to certification of the Worldliner. This journal is your ticket aboard. [...] In the coming weeks you’ll hear from some of our crew at Edwards AFB — people in the cockpit and people who ensure that everything is in place each morning when it’s time for “wheels up.” [...] So, we’re hoping you’ll find it a fascinating ride. I think it’s really going to open your eyes to the remarkable people and machines that make up the Boeing flight test program.
Even with just two posts so far, this blog conveys a refreshing informality and insight into some aspects of the work of some pretty skilled people that you'd likely never get a glimpse of otherwise. Just take a look at this example, posted a few days ago by Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, Chief Project Pilot, Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner:
[...] I've been an experimental test pilot for Boeing for more than seven years, and I will tell you that very few things catch us off guard because as a team we prepare so throughly. I've been involved with this particular airplane for more than a year-and-a-half. I took part in early engineering meetings when designs and specifications were being formed. That gave me the opportunity to take the information from those meetings back to our team of test pilots. In that way we're able to give the program recommendation from the pilot's perspective. As the airplane was being built, I visited the factory regularly and watched the pieces come together. It's always a thrill to see ideas and designs become a reality!
Suzanna's post includes her photo. That's a perfect touch, which adds greatly to her post to help make a real connection with Boeing. Would you get that just from reading the dry description about the new plane, or even watching one of the videos?
The blog has RSS feeds but not direct commenting - if you want to comment, you have to email them in from a link on the blog's main page. Interesting, though - if you visit the guidelines page, there's a link there to the comments page on Randy's Journal, the blog by Randy Baseler, Vice President Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, that was launched in mid January.
The new blog is a terrific step in sharing commentary and opinion on a subject that most people would only find out about through traditional communication means (TV, print media, etc). And without any of the informality.
As for Randy's Journal, that can no longer be accused of being just a tarted-up press release as it's undergone a design refresh, with a similar look and feel to the new Flight Test Journal, and has direct commenting.
It looks like Boeing now has more of a plan about blogs and where they fit into their overall marketing and communications.