MIAMI – Randy Tinseth joined Boeing as a flight test engineer in June 1981. In his current job, one he’s held since April 2007, he leads the teams responsible for global go-to-market strategies and analysis in support of sales and product strategy.
His teams are responsible for marketing efforts across the commercial airplanes family of products and services – contributing to planning and product development, understanding and communicating market requirements and the market outlook.
Before working in marketing, Tinseth was the customers leader for the 747-8 program, where he was responsible for developing marketing and in-service support strategies, executing sales and working with the customer base.
He’s also credited with launching the popular “Name Your Plane” effort, which led to the selection of the Boeing 787’s Dreamliner name, and the creation of the “newairplane.com” website.
He spoke to Airways about a possible replacement for the 757, an update on the 737MAX, Boeing’s prospects in Asia and what the remainder of 2017 will look like.
Note: This interview was conducted prior to the Paris Air Show.
Airways: Boeing has orders from Qatar Airways, United, and Swiss for the 777-300ER. How important are these orders to help fill the gap between the current production line and the line for the 777X?
Randy Tinseth: When it comes to the widebody market, there’s no question that we’ve seen some challenges. Right now, I would say that demand and supply [for jets] are fairly well in balance.
And frankly, as we move forward, we’ll see more normal demand in the market. We played a little catch-up in the last decade and I expect to see more normal demand. We’ve made adjustments down on the 777 and we made some adjustments on the 747 in order to make sure that supply and demand are balanced.
Does this help our bridge? Absolutely. But as in every program, we’re going to take it month by month and take a look at supply and demand in the market. We will take a look at what we have in the backlog and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
How many more orders do you think Boeing needs in order for you to feel comfortable about filling that gap?
I think our objective is to make sure that we continue to go out in the market engaging orders in that time frame. And then more importantly, we want to make sure that we have a production plan that will allow us to smoothly and seamlessly grow from 777 to 777X production, so that where our focus is.
Right now the 737MAX is at more than 3000 orders from airlines around the world. Why do you think this aircraft is resonating so well with the carriers that ordered it?
I think that this thing goes out to all our planes in general. The [737s] are the backbone of our industry and they’re the workhorses of many fleets. When you make it better, as we are with the MAX, I don’t think it’s any surprise that it’s been the best-selling aircraft we’ve ever brought to the market.
As you said, we have more than 3000 orders and close to 70 customers — and that’s before we’ve delivered the first aircraft. It’s about what it brings to the market in terms of being that bedrock and foundation.
What the MAX does that the NG doesn’t do is it flies a little bit further, it’s up to 20 percent more fuel efficient and it has a 40 percent reduction in noise. So we’re taking a really good and extremely successful airplane and making it better.
There’s one area of the world where it’s not doing as well — Asia. There seems to be a run on A320neos in that region, so what’s the disparity there?
Asia is about 40 percent of the market moving forward and China is about half of that market. And we’re doing just fine in China. I would say that we have seen some strong A320neo orders in places like India and Southeast Asia, but I have to ask a question.
When I look at an airline like IndiGo, which has now ordered more than 400 neos, I just have to ask a question: are those real?
When I compare that to the backlogs at Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, they also have about 430 airplanes on order.
I think we have an opportunity to grow, so I’m not too worried about some of those big orders. I think we have the opportunity for our backlog to grow; I’m not sure how much they have that opportunity.
How are you feeling about the overall prospect for Boeing in Asia?
Again, I think it starts in China, because that’s where half the Asia market is moving. We’ve done extremely well in the China market. In fact, in the last three years, Chinese airlines have been our biggest customers.
I think about 25 percent of all our deliveries in the last three years have gone to China, including one out of three 737s. That market has been an extremely good one for us and we’re seeing strength both from the single aisle with the NG and the MAX, along with real strength from the 787 and 777.
When I take a look at Asia, especially what we’ve been able to do on the widebody side, I feel fairly comfortable and I think we’re really well-positioned for the future. I talked about China, but I think on the widebody side, that extends to what we’ve been able to do in Japan and in Southeast Asia.
You recently got a 14-aircraft freighter order from UPS for the 747. What are the longer term prospects for this aircraft?
We’re ecstatic by the order by UPS. When you’re only building one airplane every month, this order really provides a pretty strong base for our production moving forward.
I think when we look at the 747, it is tied to the cargo market. It is the largest, most capable, most economical freighter in the market. And the cargo market has been challenging, but this is a vote of confidence by one of the biggest cargo carriers in the world.