Friday is apparently catch-up day here at L-HC. In mid-July, Boeing rolled out the 787 Dreamliner to great acclaim.
Based on how industrially complex modern designed from scratch aircraft are, should we be surprised that delivery times are slipping?
By Julie Johnsson | Tribune staff reporter
- September 6, 2007
Boeing Co. officials acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that there is an increased risk it won’t meet its delivery schedule for its first 787 Dreamliner.
Production glitches have forced the planemaker to postpone the new jet’s maiden flight, once slated for late summer, until sometime between mid-November and mid-December, Scott Carson, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said on a conference call with analysts and reporters.
That leaves Chicago-based Boeing just six months to gain federal certification for the 787 before the first aircraft is due to be delivered to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in May. To compensate, the company plans the most aggressive flight testing for the groundbreaking jet in its history.
Boeing still believes it can deliver the first plane on time. But the delays leave it with little or no buffer to deal with any problems it discovers during its flight tests, said Mike Bair, who leads the 787 program.
And, indeed, it’s the complexity that’s making problems for Boeing.
[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
Remember how everyone beat up Airbus because their schedule for the gigantic double-decked 380 has slipped by a couple of years?
Boeing made out well, reopening production of a 40-year old 747 model that seemingly was destined to cease manufacture, due mainly to Boeing’s aggressive selling to customers such as FedEx and UPS who found Airbus’ 380 delays unacceptable.
And during this duress, Airbus’ original, too-derivative design for a Dreamliner competitor, model 350, failed to move the market and has required a total redesign, which has delayed prospective deliveries of the newly named 350XWB until the middle of the next decade.
Airbus, a typical European governmental/industrial mashup of Tower of Babel proportions, has gone through multiple violent management changes as a result.
But, guess what? Boeing has discovered for itself that designing and manufacturing a commercial airliner, in these days of global participation (i.e., if you want to sell airplanes to Indonesia, you’d better manufacture some component there, even if it’s a landing gear door), is a pretty tricky business, requiring logistical organization perfection on a worldwide scale.
And, remember the Challenger tragedy of 21+ years ago? It was an average, utilitarian, unglamorous O-ring that did it in.
And the Dreamliner’s current problems are with average, utilitarian, unglamorous fasteners.
For want of a nail, indeed…
It’s it for now. Thanks,