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Production of Boeing 787 Dreamliner Delayed Again

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the was-just-a-dream dept.

Transportation 334

Hugh Pickens writes "Boeing has discovered microscopic wrinkles in the skin of the 787's fuselage and has ordered Italian supplier Alenia Aeronautica to halt production of fuselage sections at a factory in Italy. 'In two areas on the fuselage, the structure doesn't have the long-term strength that we want,' says Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter. To repair the wrinkles, additional layers of carbon composite material are being added to a 787 at the South Carolina factory and twenty-two other planes must also be patched. Production of the 787 has been fraught with problems with ill-fitting parts, casting doubt on Boeing's strategy of relying on overseas suppliers to build big sections of the aircraft before assembling them at its facilities near Seattle. The 787, built for fuel efficiency from lightweight carbon composite parts, is a priority for Boeing as it struggles with dwindling orders amid the global recession. Customers had been expecting the first of the new jets in the first quarter of 2010 — nearly two years earlier than they will be delivered. The delays have cost Boeing credibility and billions of dollars in anticipated expenses and penalties. Orders for 72 planes have been canceled already this year, although Boeing still has confirmed orders for over 800 aircraft."

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334 comments

Would this be the place (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29086873)

where I point out that maybe if they'd kept those jobs in the United States instead of tying to save a few pennies or getting a contract or two from a state airline that the parts might actually work right the first time.

Yes, companies that send jobs overseas, I'm looking at you.

Re:Would this be the place (4, Insightful)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086929)

Why would it have been guaranteed to "work right the first time?"

The article indicates that it's a design fault. Either in the design of the manufacturing process, or earlier.

Boeing is designing a permanent fix to the wrinkle problem so future versions of the plane won't have to be modified. The existing fuselage wrinkles, she said, will not compromise the flight safety of the 787s.

That tells me it's Boeing's fault that the problem exists, not the Italian manufacturers.

Re:Would this be the place (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29086987)

He never said "guaranteed" you took it on yourself to insert that word and then declared that it's invalid. Good Fucking Job. If you want to earn more Idiot Points you can write "loose" where you should have used "lose" - that's a trendy one lately. For a classic you can always incorrectly use "their" "they're" or "there" like a real space cadet. All I'm saying is that a little functional illiteracy would go well with your shitty reading comprehension and argumentation.

Re:Would this be the place (5, Informative)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087221)

It's a manufacturing problem related to the connection between the fuselage stringers and skin. Alenia and Boeing have known about it for a while. Alenia can't make the stringers with a close enough tolerance on the landing (the "bottom" that bonds to the skin) to get a proper cure of the skin and Boeing refuses to relax the tolerances. Until they can agree on a manufacturing fix they have stopped work.

The fix for the parts already made is to put an exterior patch. That's usually a last resort but not unheard of. Customers don't like to get new airplanes with visible patches on them.

Alenia has scrapped two barrels and sectioned them to get a good look at the internals of the problem. The manufacturing fix will be pretty straightforward, probably a few extra plies in the skin to make up for some reduced thickness in the stringer landing.

Alenia likely did a facir (first article conformity inspection report) on the first barrel which is where they cut the first barrel up and look at sections to find wrinkles and other things. The problem is, they changed the mfg process on the stringers after the facir. Not unusual, but they blew it when they asserted that the new method would be equivalent to the original that passed the facir.

Re:Would this be the place (5, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087459)

I worked for Northrop many decades ago when the Boeing 747 was first being built. Northrop made these body sections for Boeing. These were in the days of actual blueprints on paper, although they had advanced to microfilm aperture cards to print from by that point ;)

The skins had little angled stringers attached to the inside surface, painted with some horrible green mixture. The draftsman who drew them used the wrong width pen, and these stringers turned out to be 1/2mm shorter than they needed to be. Not a real problem you'd think, but there were thousand of them running lengthwise across the skin.

By the time the stringer had reached the cargo door (65BO1859 - god how some things stick in your head) they were about half a meter short. This had a major structural impact on the airframe, so they had to go (literally) back to the drawing board to solve the problem.

Subtle business, building your average jumbo jetliner.

Re:Would this be the place (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087251)

Actually, in the normal Boeing process, these items are assembled regularly in various stages and made certain to fit (iterative process). The problem is that this is the first time that they have outsourced like this and were not capable of making design adjustments. This was a waterfall process. And the results are just like any waterfall process

Re:Would this be the place (5, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086935)

It's a little more than just outsourcing - Boeing had cut their internal engineering resources to the point where they didn't have the capacity to do all of design work in house. Since you don't just go out and hire a few thousand airframe structural engineers the only option left was to outsource - and now it turns out the partners they had vastly overstated their capabilities. After all, any engineer is the same as any other, right?

My brother is an engineer at Boeing... he claims that this is the most screwed up engineering project in terms of cost in human history. I think he has a point.

Re:Would this be the place (4, Insightful)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087213)

Furthermore this is the first carbon composite airliner ever made. It's obviously going to have more problems than another aluminium plane. For example one of the problems with composites is that it is really easy to get subsurface delaminations that are very hard to detect. These problems are going to take time to solve.

Re:Would this be the place (2, Insightful)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087283)

No, I agree with you. It's really easy to say that the technology is not read yet and shouldn't be used, ignoring the fact that it's projects like this that typically push tech forward.

The future of jetliners is composites.

Whether the project succeeds or not only matters in the short-term. The tech and experience produced even by a failed 787 project will pave the way for the thousands of new projects the future will surely produce, to everyone's benefit.

Re:Would this be the place (3, Insightful)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087323)

Whether the project succeeds or not only matters in the short-term.

Especially if you happen to be flying on one of the "failures" at the time.

Re:Would this be the place (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087295)

My brother is an engineer at Boeing... he claims that this is the most screwed up engineering project in terms of cost in human history. I think he has a point.

Ares would be up there.

Re:Would this be the place (3, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087493)

My brother is an engineer at Boeing... he claims that this is the most screwed up engineering project in terms of cost in human history. I think he has a point.

Oh, I can't imagine it's beat the Big Dig just yet, though it may be on its way. Looks like the relative costs of the two programs are similar...but the Big Dig was a 10-fold cost overrun (from about $2B to $20B.

In more similar endeavors, there's always the Osprey, also coming in at about $20B. Funny, Boeing was one of the co-developers on that clusterfudge too.

Re:Would this be the place (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087013)

Not all of the outsourcing is done to save pennies (although many of them undoubtedly are).

For example, many of the composite parts are produced in Japan for two reasons: 1) Japan has some of the best composite material manufacturers in the world, and 2) lucrative subcontracting business from Boeing distracts the Japanese from trying to produce a 787 competitor of their own. The latter is especially important, not just because the last thing Boeing needs is another credible competitor in the mid-to-large airliner market; it is also because a stronger Japanese aviation industry may also be tempted to design jet fighters on its own, which would destroy the single biggest export market for US military aircraft in the world.

Re:Would this be the place (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087183)

Also good for Boeing in Japan, China and Italy ect.
When regional and national carriers need to upgrade, they will 'think' of local jobs.

Re:Would this be the place (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087023)

Bigoted much?

There's no shortage of slipshod work done in the USA, or top-quality work done in foreign countries.

-jcr

Re:Would this be the place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087121)

>>There's no shortage of slipshod work done in the USA...

And that isn't bigoted?

Re:Would this be the place (1)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087151)

No, it's not. He was just saying that slipshod work is universal.

Re:Would this be the place (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087485)

Sturgeon's Law is universal.

Re:Would this be the place (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087165)

No, it's the truth.

Re:Would this be the place (1)

Beltonius (960316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087673)

At work I deal with several different injection-mold contractors. Far and away the best, in terms of both customer service and part quality is a Chinese owned and operated company. The only downside is the added cost (and lead-time) shipping material to (some of our custom colors are only blended state-side) and product from China.

Re:Would this be the place (4, Funny)

multisync (218450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087231)

where I point out that maybe if they'd kept those jobs in the United States instead of tying to save a few pennies or getting a contract or two from a state airline that the parts might actually work right the first time.

Who knows, but you don't have to be Alanis Morissette to see the irony of an Italian plant making fuselages for Boeing, and a Seattle coffee company wanting to sell me something called a "grandee latte."

Re:Would this be the place (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087357)

You know, usually this is the case, but not here. Parts are being produced in Europe not to save money but because of the know-how. It's not overseas China or Taiwan that we are talking about. Plus building in the U.S. is not a guarantee of higher quality.

Re:Would this be the place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087555)

God damn guidos pissing on chinks. Guess that must be what they call irony.

Re:Would this be the place (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087479)

A company that cares more about quality than about profits?

If you show me that, I'll show you a sow's wing.

"Boeing has discovered found microscopic wrinkles" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29086877)

"Boeing has discovered found microscopic wrinkles" ? Huh?

Re:"Boeing has discovered found microscopic wrinkl (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087145)

When my mom discovered found wrinkles around her eyes and mouth she had them fixed fairly cheaply with Botox. Maybe Boeing can do the same.

Re:"Boeing has discovered found microscopic wrinkl (5, Funny)

codewritinfool (546655) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087429)

With Boetox?

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29086881)

boeing is fucked.

Duke Nukem (0, Redundant)

areusche (1297613) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086885)

I heard the 787 was going to coincide with the release of Duke Nukem forever.

And somewhere across the pond... (3, Funny)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086893)

... an EADS executive is laughing with glee...

Re:And somewhere across the pond... (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086919)

No, they're still trying to breath in and out very slowly and deliberately hoping that the A380 will fly financially [flightglobal.com] . With the current economic climate, it will be a awhile before they're laughing again.

Re:And somewhere across the pond... (4, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087625)

No, they're still trying to breath in and out very slowly and deliberately hoping that the A380 will fly financially. With the current economic climate, it will be a awhile before they're laughing again.

I'm sure the corporate weasels at Airbus will manage a few smug smiles at the expense of the corporate weasels at Boeing after all the detailed coverage of A380 delays by aviation/business journalists, bloggers and other "industry observers" from the other side of the pond. In the long run the A380 has every chance of being a success just like the 747 was. The 380 has operating costs that are more or less the same as a 747 but with the capability to carry a substantially greater number of passengers with a quite low per-passenger cost. There are plans now to build all-coach A380s which are projected to cut air fairs by up to 30% on some routes. Even if they manage to realize even only a third of that price cut the A380 might actually end up benefitting from the current economic climate on inter-hub hauls. It won't be the worlds most comfortable ride but for a 10% price cut I'll put up with being stuck in an 840 seat giant sardine can for a few hours.

Re:And somewhere across the pond... (3, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086925)

I can imagine that - it is a major loss of face at Boeing, especially after they laughed so hard at Airbus about those A380 delays.

It's hard at the bleeding edge. (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086895)

Sounds like the start up of the 747. Boeing nearly bankrupted the company by pushing the envelope in plane design and manufacturing when many people didn't think the business model would work out. They're at the same point again for the same reasons, so we will see if they can do it again.

But Boeing is lots more than the Commercial Airplane group; I believe they are the number one or two US defense contractor so even if the 787 takes a long time to break even, the company will still survive.

If, however, the plane actually flops because of the choices they made (heavy use of composites PLUS heavy outsourcing), then Commercial Airplane may lose enough money to trash the company.

Remember folks, this is why you pay your high end executives lots of money....

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086963)

Seems like a plane built overseas is not really going to as attractive to the defense folks.

One can't resist a bit of glee at their troubles. The company ditched it's Seattle roots, moved to Chicago, then sought to layoff its US workers by outsourcing it's manufacturing capability. So it's satisfying to see this strategy ruin cause pain and not be such a good deal.

On the other hand given the global downturn it's not such a bad time to behind schedule. Airbus is going to eat it on the over sized beast they bet on, and the 787 is likely to look like the right size going forward.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (0)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087085)

Oh but the brilliant MBA's assured us that this was the only way for Boeing to survive in the globalized market for aircraft! /sarcasm.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29086967)

There is truth to that statement about executive waste, but fact of the matter is that they are pushing the envelope in many directions at once and technical problems were bound to arise. Also, the composite structures, models, and manufacturing techniques are so new that a lot of the work is done by newly minted PhDs applying research and techniques straight out of the best institutions. I have the utmost respect for their push, and once the blended wing body has finished development, the combination of the design and composite research will be remarkable.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (3, Insightful)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086975)

I've been doing a lot of thinking about management and it's layers lately. It seems to me that if large companies looked at their management structure and pared it down to what it looked like years ago when they had their first successes that got them where they are, they could make projects like the Dreamliner actually work sooner.

Take this situation where some overpaid executives decided that it would be a good business decision to outsource the work to Italy. The flaws in the design might have happened if made in the US, but your communication lines would have been shorter (from worker to end decision maker), and problems would be identified and stamped out quicker. I'd like to see data on the number of people between top brass and actual laborers today and twenty years ago for the top 100 companies in the US, and see the difference. Something tells me the more management you have, the crappier your product.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087067)

Remember folks, this is why you pay your high end executives lots of money....

What? To fuck over a company, the people working there, and the customers? That's all I see executives with over-the-top salaries and perks do. And don't give me the old "best money attracts the best talent" bullshit - I've seen kids running lemonade stands with more business sense than most big-shot execs.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (2, Funny)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087243)

I'm not sure, but it seemed like it might have been a sarcastic comment.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087583)

I agree a bunch of aHoles. Look at ebay, they buy Skype and then let the original skype owners keep the original skype proprams, software etc. Now the original owners who want to buy back skype on the cheap at 1/4 the original price are no longer willing to license the software. These are the Corp assholes that run our country. God save the Corporate gerbils.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (2, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087611)

Remember folks, this is why you pay your high end executives lots of money....

What? To fuck over a company, the people working there, and the customers? That's all I see executives with over-the-top salaries and perks do. And don't give me the old "best money attracts the best talent" bullshit - I've seen kids running lemonade stands with more business sense than most big-shot execs.

YAWN, as usual, troll @ "the overpaid elite" from a /. AC.

You know what's happened as I've grown older? The more I think about starting my own company, the more amazed I am at the talent required to run one.

Aside from all that, $1m vs $2m isn't the issue-- for you it is, but you're just bitter with envy. It's all about incentives: what's going to motivate someone to work harder, when they've already got so much money? If you don't offer it, then it's not worth it to them, and they're not going to do it. If you were in the CEO's position 5 years ago, you would have been allured by the very same pressures they were-- outsource the jobs, reap massive profit for about 3-4 years, and get out and unload my shares before the consequences catch up to us.

Slashdot, get off your collective high horse and stop being bitter about supposedly overpaid execs. YOU worry about YOU, and you'll be paid quite a lot, as well. Maybe not $2m, but plenty enough to live a more than comfortable life. Most of the people that visit Slashdot are definitely above average folk. Pity that some of you waste it on bitter envy that leads to nothing but malice and unhappiness. Get up and do something about it! Master your job better! Get better at story telling, socializing, fraternizing; and soon you'll find yourself making friends with the higher ups and, while maybe not a promotion, you'll definitely make it through the layoffs.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087293)

Sounds like the start up of the 747. Boeing nearly bankrupted the company by pushing the envelope in plane design and manufacturing when many people didn't think the business model would work out. They're at the same point again for the same reasons, so we will see if they can do it again.

Um, no. The 747's had huge issues because of Pratt and Whitney's inability to deliver the engine they promised. There were no major issues with the aircraft itself.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087363)

Sounds like the start up of the 747.

The 747 was delivered to Pan Am within a month of the projected delivery date, not over two years late.

Worse, Boeing isn't leading this time. They pulled out the 787 concept after failing to meet the challenge of the A380. It's an entirely defensive move. Things aren't looking good at all.

Re:It's hard at the bleeding edge. (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087483)

I wonder if it turned out for the best that Boeing didn't try to match the A380, even if it was a hindsight kind of thing. Two competing super jumbos might have very seriously hurt both companies, especially given the current global civil aviation market.

It seems both companies had significant delays with recently designed aircraft, A380 had a couple delays and significant reductions in the production of deliverable aircraft. The break-even point is somewhere above 270 aircraft, and it looks like they've only delivered 17 so far.

I am raping little girls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29086911)

Welcome to Slashdot, where everyone is a pedophile.

What a relief... (5, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086941)

Now Boeing can finally pin the blame for all the delays on another company again.

A few words... (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086945)

All this is because of American companies' belief in complexity. We should borrow a leaf from the Russians who I believe, are champions of simplicity which actually delivers.

Re:A few words... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087081)

When was the last time anyone flew on a Russian built commercial airline?

As for "simplicity" the Su-27 series are just as complex as the F-16s, F-15s, F-18s and Eurofighters they compete against.

Re:A few words... (2, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087223)

Uhm... I flew IL-96 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IL-96 [wikipedia.org] ) last week. A decent airplane, not the most advanced of course, but pretty reliable (no catastrophes with human casualties at all, though number of produced planes is not big enough for reliable statistics).

Re:A few words... (1)

kroyd (29866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087269)

On my last trip to South-East Asia I flew by way of Moscow. The longest leg was from Moscow to Bangkok, in some old Russian plane. I'm not sure which model, but it had something like 3 rows of seats, in a 3/4/3 configuration, with no overhead compartments above the middle row. During the flight I was wondering why the roof plates looked like they were crooked and not particularly regular, but I didn't think much of it.

That changed when the plane was landing. At first I thought people were applauding, which was a bit surprising, but then I realized that the sound was that of the entire roof shaking, you could actually see the roof plates moving against each other. The flight was certainly simple enough anyway, no entertainment and seats which could be folded forward.

Aeroflot, at least the international trips, is less scary than say Nepal Air though.. A few weeks after I flew Nepal Air out of Kathmandu I saw this quite believable story: http://news.airwise.com/story/view/1189004157.html [airwise.com]

frequently (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087463)

Russian planes fly with airlines worldwide. Just two examples:

Tu-154 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-154 [wikipedia.org] "The aircraft has been exported and operated by about 17 non-Russian airlines, as well as a number of non-Russian airforces. It remains the standard airliner for domestic routes across Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union (CIS). The Tu-154 is one of the fastest civilian planes in operation (975 km/h) and has a range of 5280 km. Designed to handle unpaved and gravel airfields, it often operates in extreme Arctic conditions of Russia's northern territories."

(I've flown on it. Nice plane.) pics at airliners.net [airliners.net]

The older Tu-134 "has seen long-term service with some 42 countries, with some European airlines having made very intense use of the 134 (as many as 12 takeoffs & landings per plane daily)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-134 [wikipedia.org]

Re:A few words... (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087641)

American ethnocentrism. What a concept, huh? People who have never been out of the country are perfectly willing to judge things of which they know nothing.

Let us remember, the Russian people, under Soviet leadership, faced us throughout the cold war for decades. AND, they competed respectably in space. Running them down is pure ignorance, IMHO.

Re:A few words... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087143)

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 million developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300C.

 
When confronted with the same problem, the Russians used a pencil.

Something like this, right? ;)

Re:A few words... (5, Informative)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087187)

Stop spreading this myth.

From Snopes [snopes.com] :

Claim:NASA spent millions of dollars developing an "astronaut pen" which would work in outer space while the Soviets solved the same problem by simply using pencils.

Status:False.

Re:A few words... (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087279)

Sorry but:

From Russia:

Claim: Snopes in an authority on thruth and knows everything. Especially about astronaut pens and pencils.
Status: False.

Why do people think that Snopes is the end of all arguments? After all it's an American site. Spreading the American point of view.
I bet they still state that Bell and Bell alone invented the telephone.

Re:A few words... (1, Insightful)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087349)

Snopes is laughably naive at times- this is a good example:

http://www.snopes.com/quotes/bush.asp [snopes.com]

So Campbell denies something, and the source of the claim goes to ground?

Sure... that sounds like snopes has reached a reliable interpretation of events.

Re:A few words... (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087421)

why is this troll?

A better example (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087367)

The US spends $500 million per launch to send guys up to the space station on a $2 billion space shuttle...the Russians use a dumb cheap soyuz rocket, and
can break even by selling a seat on the ride to any schmoe willing to pay 20 million bucks.

Is that better?

Let's hear it for.. (5, Insightful)

sohp (22984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086951)

Another victory for outsourcing your core competency.

Re:Let's hear it for.. (2, Informative)

homer_s (799572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087487)

Doesn't Airbus outsource as well?
If I'm not mistaken, they manufacture/assemble in over 5 different countries.

So, let's hear it for mindless peddling of stupid ideas that are based on arbitrary political boundaries.

Re:Let's hear it for.. (4, Interesting)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087519)

Boeing's core compentency is composite airframes?! From an engineering perspective, sub-contracting out parts of the plane was the only chance they had of making it possible. I've been in some of the big autoclaves used for major parts, and it is a bit simplistic to think that Boeing could have done all the manufacturing in-house.

But, their supposed core competency, integration, seems to be more lacking.

Ultimately, when these things first crash it is going to be an interesting case of finger pointing.

At least it wasn't pro-Airbus (5, Funny)

gizmo_mathboy (43426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086957)

This [youtube.com] Youtube video was sent to me from a friend that works at Boeing (not in the commercial division). About sums things up.

Hope Boeing pulls it off SOMEDAY (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29086979)

The world is going to need more fuel-efficient planes badly. Let's all hope Boeing pulls this off, or most of us will be fuel-priced out of the option of flying.

Re:Hope Boeing pulls it off SOMEDAY (2, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087097)

The world needs to stop flying all over the globe anyway. When air travel is unavoidable fuel economy isn't the most important thing. Splatfree miles is what counts. Boeing is doing fine.

Actually (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087215)

had Boeing REALLY cared about fuel, they would be pushing their BWB/X-48. That would have used less in a 380 class craft than a 737 does today. A craft like that would be perfect for the military in Tankers, Cargo, and perhaps b-52 replacements. Likewise, it is the ideal craft for cargo or passenger/cargo mixed. ABout the ONLY big problem with it, is that a number of passengers want the windows (not a big issue with cameras today), And a number of them will not like the feeling in a bank, even a shallow roll. Of course, the smart thing is to store cargo on the outer side and then do a double decker passenger towards the middle. I have little doubt that said aircraft would have PLENTY of sales

Link (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087623)

For those who have no idea what the parent is talking about, I Googled it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-48 [wikipedia.org]

If the 787 is having so many problems with a mostly conventional design, imagine how many problems that X-48 airframe would have.

Re:Link (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087683)

The 787 is less about the airframe and more about the outsourcing. Had Boeing stuck to the tried and true approach of iterative design, rather than trying to move to waterfall (and using contract engineers at that), the 787 would not be in the situation that it is today. The x-48 could be developed for the military and then later a civilian model created (actually, there is some discussion in the pentagon of doing just this for the new DOD tanker). In doing that approach, Boeing would not be using their current nightmare set-up. In fact, I am guessing that Boeing will NEVER again try to outsource like they have.

Close (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087017)

For something that is meant to go up in the clouds each time looks more like vaporware.

Not so lightweight? (5, Informative)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087021)

From the article:

Boeing is designing a permanent fix to the wrinkle problem so future versions of the plane won't have to be modified. The existing fuselage wrinkles, she said, will not compromise the flight safety of the 787s.

The existing fuselage wrinkles might not compromise the flight safety of the 787s, but they will weigh and cost a lot more than planned because of the extra layers of carbon composite material. The added weight will reduce fuel efficiency for the entire lifetime of the airplane, which further increases the cost of use of these planes for the airlines that will be buying them. As for the permanent fix:

Boeing said tests had shown it needed to reinforce areas where the plane's wings join the fuselage.

You can bet this means all future 787s will weigh more than Boeing told their investors they would, which means some companies who slightly prefered 787s over an alternative by, say, Airbus, might also cancel their orders and buy from the competition instead.

Re:Not so lightweight? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087147)

LOL, That's funny. Buy a computer death machine instead because of a few extra pounds? ROFL!

Boeing screwed up by outsourcing (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087031)

They did this for several reasons. The first was to break the unions. The second, and more important, was to help sales. Sadly, America has some of the best knowledge of composites and the RIGHT place for this was here, not elsewhere. At this time, all of the issues that Boeing has is with offshored items (Production for china has been a QUIET NIGHTMARE for Boeing; Many of the parts are of VERY low quality). In fairness, my Wife and a number of friends work for Boeing, so I do get to see info that is not in the main-stream press.

Re:Boeing screwed up by outsourcing (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087239)

Your union-busting tale sounds like something a big American company would do, but just so I understand, here....

Chafing under the pressure of American organized labor, Boeing outsourced the difficult parts of its airliner to *ITALY*?

Italy's a wonderful country, but the place isn't exactly a capitalist pig's paradise. Last time I was there, I discovered that the train station departure boards have indicators for "on time", "delayed", and "on strike".

Re:Boeing screwed up by outsourcing (5, Insightful)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087475)

Many of the parts are of VERY low quality

A yes the old scape goat, blame the Chinese because we gave the contract to the cheapest Chinese manufacturer. The A380 also gets many of it parts made in China and they dont have these so called issues mainly because the Chinese will build a quality product if you insist on it, yes it costs more but then you get what you pay for. I work for a company that gets all it's products made in China and "we have no quality issues" because we have defined what we need and what we expect and paid the extra money to get it. It is almost as if American companies forgot the term "quality control" and "ISO standards" when it came to dealing with the Chinese because the Chinese do know about both these factors.

Re:Boeing screwed up by outsourcing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087547)

The A380 also gets many of it parts made in China and they dont have these so called issues mainly because the Chinese will build a quality product if you insist on it, yes it costs more but then you get what you pay for. THe 380 gets VERY few parts outside of Europe. And yes, there is very little of Chinese made products in it. And as to quality from China, it is sketchy. Some are there, others are not.

Anyone seeing parallels to IT projects here?? (4, Interesting)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087063)

It's wierd - I used to think IT projects were the only projects that were impossible to accurately estimate. A lot of PMs I run into at work seem to think a software project is the same as a construction project, but I think they're totally different. There is little change in the time it takes to pour a certain amount of concrete, run standard electrical for a commercial building, or other construction/product build tasks. In software-land, since everything's so fluid, it's anyone's guess how much time it'll take to fix some crazy bug, install hardware, debug a hardware or software installation, or write documentation. And even when a construction project over-runs its time, you pretty much know exactly how far off you are and how long until you're on track again.

Now this 787 project comes out and blows my assumptions away! Apparently you CAN overrun a construction or build project's time and budget just as easily as IT projects.

From what I've been reading, the fact that Boeing basically outsourced everything but final assembly of the plane to different contractors has come back to bite them. One of my IT specialties is integration work -- and I've worked on a lot of contracted software products that totally don't work when you get their individual parts back and mash them together.

Part of me really wants to gloat and say, "Ha ha, you listened to a bunch of retarded MBA consultants who convinced you that lean production and lowest-bidder subcontracting was the way to go!". BUT, I really can't. Boeing's in a lot of trouble if they can't pull off a major integration/rework effort right away. Airplanes are one of the last things the US actually makes and exports from a manufacturing perspective, so it's important that they just drop everything and figure out what's wrong. Airbus will be more than happy to sell A340s, A350s and A380s to all the waiting airlines.

But deep down, I still think those MBAs should have thought a little bit about how many thousands of parts and systems a typical plane has...

Re:Anyone seeing parallels to IT projects here?? (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087125)

Now this 787 project comes out and blows my assumptions away! Apparently you CAN overrun a construction or build project's time and budget just as easily as IT projects.

The 787 is new. Most of the time if you're doing a construction project, you're doing something basically the same or very similar to something you've done before, so you can estimate it well. When this doesn't hold, construction projects end up estimated just as poorly as IT projects. IT projects are always something new; if what you wanted already existed, you'd probably just buy it.

Re:Anyone seeing parallels to IT projects here?? (2, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087461)

It would be a foolish airline that looked at the B787 delays and thought they could avoid the problem by ordering A350s instead. It uses the same carbon fibre construction, and a quick look at the A380 timeline will tell you that Airbus is no more likely to make their 2013 target date than Boeing was to make 2010.

7x7 is the only big jet to fly (0, Flamebait)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087089)

Boeing/MD has more airlining credibility than all the rest combined. An Airbus flight would have to be 50% off for me to even consider it.

If someone can show me where other planes are safer I'd like to hear about it.

Re:7x7 is the only big jet to fly (3, Informative)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087177)

Flying in general is extremely safe.

Plus 53% of Aircraft crashes are caused by Pilot Error. A total of 67% are caused by "human factors" (e.g. Human Error, Sabotage, Maintenance mistakes etc). 11% by weather. Which leaves a 21% chance of mechanical problems.

Which tells me you should be a lot less concerned about who builds your aircraft and instead look at how well trained your pilot and the ground crew are. Because they are more than likely the ones who will get you killed.

PS - Plus Boeing aircraft have crashed over five times more than Airbus Aircraft (but are also much more popular, so reading the above it isn't surprising).

Re:7x7 is the only big jet to fly (1)

NickCool (802521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087351)

"PS - Plus Boeing aircraft have crashed over five times more than Airbus Aircraft (but are also much more popular, so reading the above it isn't surprising)." Interesting. Citation?

Re:7x7 is the only big jet to fly (4, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087543)

"PS - Plus Boeing aircraft have crashed over five times more than Airbus Aircraft (but are also much more popular, so reading the above it isn't surprising)." Interesting. Citation?

Citation Provided.

Accidents by aircraft type. [airfleets.net]

Fatalities by aircraft type. [airfleets.net]

The Boeing 737 NG, 757 and 767 have crashed more times then A330 and A340's. If we include older aircraft such as the B737 (Classic) and B747 vs the A320 and A300 we have the same story.

Airbus' highest fatality for a single aircraft type A300 - 1423 deaths.
Boeing's highest fatality for a single aircraft type B737 - 3990 deaths.

That being said, if you are boarding any type of aircraft you have already survived the most dangerous part of your journey, the drive to the airport.

Re:7x7 is the only big jet to fly (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087569)

Basically the rule is that modern airliners are much less likely to crash than older airliners were. Until the recent Air France crash off Brazil, both A330 and B777 had never had a fatal crash, and had similar usage profiles (there are probably more B777s in service, but the A330 has been around a few years longer). A340 and A380 are also in that category, but there are much fewer of them in service. For short range, higher usage craft, the 737-NG range and A320 have about the same safety record (per miles flown/passengers carried), orders of magnitude better than the original 737. The company that designed the plane doesn't really make a difference at the end of the day.

Re:7x7 is the only big jet to fly (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087195)

More credibility? Really? Sources?

Re:7x7 is the only big jet to fly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087551)

Boeing/MD has more airlining credibility than all the rest combined. An Airbus flight would have to be 50% off for me to even consider it.

If someone can show me where other planes are safer I'd like to hear about it.

www.aviation-safety.net has the most current data. The A340 is simply the safest aircraft in the world no matter what metric you use (miles flown, pax miles flown, flights, years in service etc.)

Boeing costing americans money (1)

markringen (1501853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087091)

Boeing costing americans money vs airbus today actually bringing in money to the EU.. time to dump Boeing into a shallow grave...

Disappointing (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087101)

I've been following the whole Dreamliner story since the beginning and this is really disappointing. This is yet another bump in their delivery of what amounts to an awesome and very ambitious aircraft. The Dreamliner really started making a splash when Boeing was down on their luck. It was such a big splash and so ambitious that customers forced Airbus to rethink their much more modest proposal. I was surprised when I saw how soon Boeing was promising to deliver them. No one has ever built an airliner (or anything of that size that I know of) entirely out of carbon fiber. As a technology nerd, I gave Boeing a lot of kudos for being ambitious and pushing the envelope. Alas, it seems poor execution plagues all engineering projects. Before this, it was the bolts. I would give them a break for trying something new but I'm not so sure their customers will.

Production of Boeing 787 Dreamliner Delayed Again (-1, Flamebait)

frenzyface (1618521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087111)

good

Boeing ain't what it used to be (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087131)

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where Boeing used to do most everything. There is a strong belief up here - maybe because we feel screwed by Boeing - that Boeing moved production all over the place basically to bust one of the few strong unions we've had up here in Washington. I'm not a big union guy; but having watched Boeing's management and their treatment of their workers over the last 20 years... that's one place where I think a union is called for. It wasn't that long ago they laid off thousands of workers because of a downturn, yet found it in their hears to give the top-tier management very large (20% or so, IIRC) pay raises at the same time.

I've had friends who worked for Boeing (engineers, mostly) over the past couple of decades. Most of them have gotten out. When they started, there was a lot of pride amongst the workers at the company. That all went away, at least in the groups my friends worked in. And I do believe that companies whose employees are proud of their work do a better job than those who've stopped caring because they feel upper management has stopped caring about the product.

Re:Boeing ain't what it used to be (2, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087237)

Agreed. I know practically everyone in the IT industry is agianst unions. In some cases that's for good reason. However, I really think that most IT people think they're not "standard blue-collar workers" because they sit in front of a computer instead of a manufacturing line.

This, plus the belief that nothing bad is ever going to happen to them, is probably the biggest reason for anti-union sentiment. In my opinion, however, this kind of thinking is dangerous. There are some really crappy workplaces out there, and in some cases people don't have much of a choice when it comes to working there. The dirty little secret no one is talking about is the fact that most IT jobs are or are going to be the next blue-collar trade that's outsourced to the cheapest labor pool.

Think about it, how many times have you listened to someone get riled up by a conservative news figure/talk show host railing against creeping socialism or the fact that we need to support the poor? I don't think a lot of "conservatives" realize that they're not actually on the same side as the super-rich "management class" teaching them to fear the liberal crowd. It's a bad combination when everyone's retirement is tied up in the market, so everyone advances policies that are tilted towards businesses. What they don't get is that demanding higher stock prices all the time is going to lead companies to make decisions that are bad for them in the long run. I think unions represent a good counter-balance to this, and have a different role in the 21st century than they did in the 20th.

inaccurate (4, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087135)

The problems are with barrels that aren't even close to production yet. Boeing (in as much as you can believe them anymore) says that this will not delay the production of the 787 (to first flight) of the 787 any further than it already has been.

This information is out there, is it so difficult to go find it before publishing wrong info instead?

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/2009/08/breaking-structural-flaw-halts.html [flightglobal.com]

Oh yeah, and the problem with the sections isn't with the skin, it's with the stringers behind them. It leads to wrinkles in the skin, but the real fix is to not mess up the stringers in the first place.

The statement that this casts even more doubt on the outsourcing model set up at Boeing under Alan Mullaly is most definitely not diminished by the inaccuracies in the reporting of these details.

Re:inaccurate (1)

Cali Thalen (627449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087289)

I'll shore up a few other points as well since you've made such a good start.

Boeing 'ditched it's Seattle roots' ? The executives moved there, nothing else. Most of the commercial work is still in the NW (they shuttered the assembly plant in Long Beach CA after closing down the old McDonnell Douglas commercial planes), so not a whole lot changed up there.

Outsourcing does happen, though it's not much different now than it was a decade ago. And, it's quite customary in aerospace (not just Boeing) to make agreements with countries to throw them some work in exchange for purchases.

Before the big turn in the economy, very few people at Boeing were being laid off. More than 20 years ago, it was customary to have large fluctuations in the workforce (layoffs in December, new hiring just after the first of the year). Starting in the late 80's that changed, and there haven't been any grand downturns since the very early 90's.

What we're seeing here is predictable. Any new project of this scope has issues (see the A380 links above, and go look back at the history of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program). It's not unusual for delays, given that you're predicting what will happen in the future.

Translation? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087659)

The statement that this casts even more doubt on the outsourcing model set up at Boeing under Alan Mullaly is most definitely not diminished by the inaccuracies in the reporting of these details.

Does this mean what it actually says or do you have an accidental double-negative there?

Will you dare to fly on it? I won't (1)

RubberDogBone (851604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087197)

This plane has had a long history of show-stopper problems, delays, more problems, and more problems. And it still hasn't flown once.

As an airline passenger, this is not making me feel like this is a plane I can trust or should want to fly on. And yes I can choose to fly airlines that haven't ordered and won't use the 787. Pretty easy since it's not exactly selling like wild anyway.

EADS would have every right to gloat but they're screwed up with 380 problems and internal issues. Both companies look like jokes right now.

Re:Will you dare to fly on it? I won't (2)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087593)

To this I'd kinda respond with the same thing we do in our own industry: this plane is pretty much in the "beta test" phase. It's under development and not in use except for testing yet. The problems discovered now might hurt Boeing via a shifted deadline, but judging the safety of the plane based on it's testing phase (where they're SUPPOSED to find problems) is a bit like saying that Firefox sucks because back when you tried Phoenix v0.3 it crashed constantly.

look, the 787 is current state of the art (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087209)

Lesson learned:
outsource known manufacturing, sound technology is easy.
outsource 1st time manufacturing, cutting technology is not so easy.
If the 787 provides the target efficiency that Boeing was looking for/advertising, then these delays are worth it. Otherwise, it a total management screw up.

Label it Beta! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087341)

They should just do what we do in software. Slap a beta label on it and ship it out the door. Then act condescending when someone complains that their plane crashed.

Production of Story (2, Funny)

starrsoft (745524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087355)

I "discovered found" a mistake; production of this story should have been delayed because of microscopic wrinkles in the sentence structure.

Damn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29087465)

I guess I'm forced to buy an Airbus then.

Just get it right (1)

PFritz21 (766949) | more than 4 years ago | (#29087667)

I hope Boeing continues to take the same approach to plane design that Nintendo does for Zelda games or Blizzard does for ANY kind. Take the time to get it right and make a quality product. I don't want them half-assing it to get it into production, then the thing falls apart when I'm flying it in. That would be very bad. I can live without the 787 for a couple of extra years if it means that using it won't cost me the time I have left on this earth.
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