back to article Boeing delays 787 Dreamliner

Boeing has delayed delivery of its 787 Dreamliner by six months, shortly after rather recklessly claiming it could dispatch the first example to All-Nippon Airways by May 2008 following a compressed flight test schedule. The Boeing Dreamliner in All Nippon Airways livery. Source: Boeing The Boeing Dreamliner in All-Nippon …

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Boeing problems

I was in Seattle last week and toured the Boeing production line. A delay like this one is hardly unexpected, given the very tight schedule they put together for this plane. While Boeing is disappointed at the delay, they are able to console themselves with the knowledge that they have a 6 year backlog of orders for the 787...before the first plane has ever left the ground. FYI, total assembly time in the plant for each plane: 3 days (it's largely a plug and play operation using components like the wing which are built overseas and flown in complete).

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Slow aerospace fastener production?

"...due to a "critical shortage of aerospace fasteners to hold the airplane together", as the Wall Street Journal explained..."

So what: ... buy more duct tape!

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Airbus Payback time?

Boeing and Airbus seem to have both suffered from a little overoptimism. Airbus must be feeling they are due for some payback after their delays on the A380. They also had a similar backlog of orders before the problems arose.

Building of components and sticking them together is an Airbus "trick", largely as a result of the dividing of the employment pie between the various governments involved. Airbus wings are built by BAE at present.

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Anonymous Coward

"Reckless"?

" ... after rather recklessly claiming ... "

Evidence? Supportability of claims? Journalism 101?

"Some of the aircraft's suppliers describe ... "

Who? Sources? Journalism 101?

"Back in September, and amid a former Boeing engineer's claims that the aircraft's composite fuselage had not been properly tested and posed a safety risk, company execs insisted they'd get a Dreamliner to All-Nippon on time."

Relevance or sensationalism? Journalism 101?

Mr Haines, the only thing reckless here is your "journalism".

There is a story here. If you actually followed the 787 program since the rollout, you would know the details of the fastener shortage, and how that has impeded the program. You would know why the fasteners need to be replaced on the first 787.

The interesting thing is there is a story here. A journalist would find the story, because journalists research and investigate stories. But you have no clue of the real story.

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Clarifications:

Boeing:

"critical shortage of aerospace fasteners to hold the airplane together". This means: "The local Wal-mart is out of duct tape and wallpaper paste".

Airbus:

"bottlenecks formed in the definition, manufacturing, and installation of electrical systems and resulting harnesses". This means: "The French designed the plugs and the Germans designed the sockets. They both insist they're right."

Sort of sums up both companies really.

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Airbus

Lost an awful lot of orders because they were honest and said "oops, it's going to be late" so everyone buggered off to Boeing, who kept very quiet about it until now. The moral of the story is "if you want to succeed in big business lie your arse off", but then we all knew that anyway.

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All Nippon Air Lines

Presumably the blue square on the livery which appears just after "ANA" was added to obliterate the final letter of that acronym when the Nipponese realised what the English translation would be ?

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So, where are all those Boeing fanboys now?

Where are all those Boeing fanboys who were unashamedly gleeful about Airbus' delays due to wire harness issues and proudly boasted that oh no, Boeing would never ever have such problems with their newest jewel, the Dreamliner?

Where are you now? At least Airbus was honest, fired those who were on the watch when that happened, and went on to fix it, even if it cost them money... I want to see Boeing do the same...

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Anonymous Coward

SAP?

Do both companies use SAP for inventory management?

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Stefan...

I'm going to guess you work for EADS or another Airbus company...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So, where are all those Boeing fanboys now?

> At least Airbus was honest...

"On 3 October 2006, upon completion of a review of the A380 program, the then CEO of Airbus, Christian Streiff, announced a third delay.[22] The largest delay yet, it pushed the first delivery for Singapore Airlines to October 2007, to be followed by 13 deliveries in 2008, 25 in 2009, and the full production rate of 45 aircraft per year in 2010."

Airbus overpromised THREE times. Hardly what I'd call being honest and upfront with their customers.

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@Jim Ned

"components like the wing which are built overseas and flown in complete"

How do they manage that? I've just got this mental image of a 747 bi-plane...

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Firmware

Bet the avionics firmware people are breathing a huge sigh of relief! Maybe they'll get to take Christmas off this year (only, of course, Christmas day itself).

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Do you suppose that...

Do you suppose that Hairbus has a huge warehouse somewhere stuffed full to the rafters with those specialize fasteners used only on the 787?

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Tom
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Still... It's Boeing, or I'm not going...

None of this 500+ seat planes that take hours to load (arrive how long before takeoff), then take hours to get your bag. Bummer in all ways.

The 787 is a much better way to go. Even is efficient.

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Erm....

Airbus wings are made by Airbus. BAE sold out their share of Airbus.

Boeing wings and other sections for the 787 are transported by the new 747-derived 747-LCF 'Dreamlifter'. As someone else mentions here, Airbus have been doing this for years, in their case with the 5 Airbus A300B4-608ST 'Beluga', which itself replaced the 'Super Guppy' in the mid nineties.

And the A380 takes no longer to load and unload than a 747-400 or A340-600, and per passenger mile is more efficient than the 787. Also very quiet!

I would consider Airbus honest and upfront, even if they did have to keep pushing back the intro date of the A380. Boeing may still have to do that. Many (but not all) of the A380 delays were caused by customers changing their plans, requiring major changes to the electrical harnesses.

Oh, and the 787 is not a 'jumbo jet'.

And I don't work for either side :)

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Paris Hilton

@Brendan Weir

Boeing use specially trained flocks of swallows (European ones rather than African swallows).

Still waiting for the Paris Hilton angle.

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All Nippon Fasteners zip it up!

Truth is when it's held together with promises, landing this Baby will require more than just a Runaway ! I think it is too big to get it out of the hanger unless you undo a few buttons to let the "hot air" out.

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Shortage of Fasteners is the core problem

About a decade ago, the major companies decided to grab a chance to reduce their manufacturing costs and instead of maintaining their previous long standing relationship with countless small businesses that had supplied them so successfully over the previous decades, they dumped the lot and outsourced to the likes of China. Two things happened in short order. 1 a very large number of those previously sound, well managed small businesses went to the wall. As an example, some 800, yes, eight hundred, small specialist steel mills completely disappeared in PA. 2 The executives that had driven the change got their promotion and the investors made their profit. It hardly takes a brain surgeon to realise that the 2nd group were not about to tell the world, let alone their senior management that they had made a bad decision, particularly as the new suppliers of those fasteners had not yet got up to speed. (A previous comment referred to a large store room with piles of fasteners was correct). You see, what happens is the old expensive, (relatively), stock gets run down first and it is some time before the new stock gives any sign of problems.

But it gets worse. Remember the pet food scandal? Now, you have an industrial sector that HAD been rooted into a long term relationship with suppliers that, if you had a problem, were not too far from you, had every reason to worry about quality and were managed by small business owners who personally lost out if the business failed. Now, you have suppliers that in turn sub contract to a supply chain in a foreign country where there is NO long term record of maintaining that crucial interest in the success of the business. You see, you do not have the same business culture in a communist country because the culture is now dependant upon the local political cadre and the consequential corruption. And please, do not start to argue otherwise, we have had so many examples lately.

It takes great skill to create a sound supply chain for something that seems to be insignificant, a simple fastener. But fasteners are not simple. To manufacture you need an absolutely reliable source of the material, often very specialist alloys that have to be forged in small batches and you must also have a very reliable quality control. So, now you have a rod, or say a 10 foot long bar of your special alloy. Now, you need to use the finest machine tools and highly skilled employees to produce these fasteners, at the highest production rates possible. (When you need millions of identical fasteners, you have to produce them in seconds on specialist automatic lathes). And that brings us to the next stage of this problem. If I handed you the tooling for such a lathe, you would not give it a second glance. Without the knowledge of the difficulties that have to be overcome, hour by hour, to keep those machines running and producing those millions of fasteners, each to the highest tolerances, you cannot possibly know the pitfalls of outsourcing to a poor supply chain.

My heart goes out to the junior execs in Boeing that must have been discarded while the bean counters chucked them and their "home built" supply chain, who also got discarded. The next chapter is when another war breaks out, they will not be able to supply a thing, as all the old suppliers have long gone.

Some time hence, the USA will come to bitterly regret the loss of all those small, dedicated suppliers that they tossed to one side. I will bet my right arm on that.

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@ Chris Coles

Spot on dear boy ... and there are so many similar cases of Senior Management Decisions based on nothing more than short term gain and the lethal ability to bury their heads in rose tinted balance sheets but pay scant attention to the lessions of "History" and good 'ol Common Sense; when Friends and enemies can so quickly change places.

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@Jay_rm

No, I actually don't. But I despise this holier-than-thou attitude Boeing fanboys display. The Airbus fanboys are only now starting to get their drive back after getting it dinged three times.

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