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Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet gotten to the bottom of what caused battery problems in two Boeing 787 Dreamliner—and it's not letting the Dreamliner back into the air until the mystery is solved. Boeing will face financial costs, but in addition, the company will also be subjected to intense scrutiny into how its most heavily outsourced plane ever also became the first time since 1979 that an entire fleet of planes was grounded by the FAA.

The AP's Scott Mayerowitz details how the Dreamliner was so heavily outsourced because Boeing's historic willingness to take risks on a new plane had been diluted by its takeover of McDonnell Douglas, which put more risk-averse executives in place. As a result, Boeing turned to outsourcing to cut the costs of building the new plane. But that has not worked out so well:

"I saw total chaos. Boeing bit off more than it could chew," said Larry Caracciolo, an engineer who spent three years managing 787 supplier quality.

First, there were problems with the molding of the new plastics. Then parts made by different suppliers didn't fit properly. For instance, the nose-and-cockpit section was out of alignment with the rest of the plane, leaving a 0.3-inch gap.

By giving up control of its supply chain, Boeing had lost the ability to oversee each step of production. Problems sometimes weren't discovered until the parts came together at its Everett, Wash., plant.

Even before a battery fire in one plane and a battery problem leading to smoke in the cockpit of another grounded the 787, outsourcing hadn't exactly saved time or money in the production of the plane. Hopefully, more companies than just Boeing will treat the Dreamliner's grounding as a cautionary tale.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 09:49 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks Laura (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ek hornbeck, jbob
  •  Boeing (5+ / 0-)

    Boeing had an outsourcing/supply chain chart that Rube Goldberg would have called complicated.  

    Boeing's problems started at the top as the top had no experience building airplanes.  I realize many of the "masters of the universe" think they're omnipotent, but the fact is they didn't know crap about the product they were building.  

    Boeing upper management tanked this aircraft.  

  •  I'm reading about "outsourcing" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify

    but I'm thinking its not an outsourcing problem .
    I'm thinking no one but Boeing has a "the buck stops here" on their desk .
    They approved the parts , they had them in hand for testing ...
    If they bought the parts and put them on their aircraft ...

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:26:36 AM PST

    •  indeed. (0+ / 0-)

      and they used litium-ion batteries...I'm not an expert obviously, but geeze, I use chiller pads on my laptop, which has a litium-ion battery, so it doesn't fry everything.

      and my cellphone...

      just a little bit bored.

      by terrypinder on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:35:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They had an outsourcing problem (4+ / 0-)

      There was too much of it.  Too many different companies, countries, corporate cultures, and so on.  

      It is very difficult and expensive to rework/redesign mistakes especially when those mistakes are made 3000 miles away and a half a year ago.  You're always playing catch up.  

      Simply put, the process got away from Boeing.  

      There is no one reason for this mess.  It was the culmination of a lot of little and not so little messes.  

      •  I'm disagreeing . (0+ / 0-)

        That they screwed up because of others doesn't fly in my book .

        If you went to a high end restaurant and they told you your food sucked because they bought ingredients from others ?

        If you paid for a painted portrait
        and it was horrible and the painter said
        "I outsourced the paint" ?

        Nobody forced their parts onto Boeing .

        "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

        by indycam on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:04:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excuse me (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bronx59
          That they screwed up because of others doesn't fly in my book .
          Did someone here say it wasn't Boeing's fault?  Sure as hell wasn't me.    

          Let me make this crystal clear:  It was Boeing's process, Boeing's outsourcing, Boeing's lack of control, and so on that caused the problem.  Some of the biggest headaches suppliers had was Boeing.  

          Better?

          •  3000 miles away ? (0+ / 0-)
            It is very difficult and expensive to rework/redesign mistakes especially when those mistakes are made 3000 miles away...
            The mistake was not made 3000 miles away . The mistake was made at Boeing , not 3000 miles away .
            Did someone here say it wasn't Boeing's fault?  Sure as hell wasn't me.
            You are claiming that the mistake was made outside Boeing .
            I'm saying it was inside and nowhere but inside .
            Every last part Boeing puts into their plane is a part that Boeing put into their plane unless some suppliers are let onto the floor to install their equipment into Boeing's plane .

            We differ in opinions .

            "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

            by indycam on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:20:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Whatever. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm moving on.  Find another playmate.  

              •  Aviation Week Jan 21 2013 (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                hmi, K S LaVida, LilithGardener

                pg 22-24 .

                Caged Li-ion
                Controlling powerful battery's volatility poses urgent design challenge for Boeing
                You might like to read the article .
                Until now , Boeing has remain unequivocal over the question of adopting or even studying different battery technology, saying simply: "We have no such plans at this time."

                If you read it , you might just find out the truth of the matter , the problem is not a problem from 3000 miles away , the problem is an in house problem .

                "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                by indycam on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 03:20:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, I'll fan the flames, the problem isn't in (5+ / 0-)

                  Everett, or Seattle.  Boeing moved their HQ to Chicago, somethig about lower costs, I'm sure.  More likely there wasn't any more money to squeeze out of Washington, Seattle, Everett, Renton, Kent, Auburn...........

                  “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

                  by markdd on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:43:07 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    markdd, Bush Bites

                    http://www.boeing.com/...

                    The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour is located in Mukilteo, Wash., 25 miles north of Seattle. Public tours of Boeing's Everett factory are available seven days a week. The Everett, Wash., facility is home to the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner production lines.

                    During the tour of the world's largest building by volume (472,000,000 cubic feet or 13,385,378 cubic meters), visitors will see airplanes being built for our worldwide base of airline customers.

                    For more information about the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, e-mail us.

                    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                    by indycam on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:02:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Elsewhere on the same web page (4+ / 0-)
                      With corporate offices in Chicago, Boeing employs more than 170,000 people across the United States and in 70 countries.
                      It's hard to build silk purses if all management is sending you is sow's ears

                      “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

                      by markdd on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:15:22 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        markdd

                        http://www.boeing.com/...

                        We're more than 175,000 professionals on 5 continents
                        I doubt that all the "brains" are in Chicago .

                        http://boeing.mediaroom.com/...

                        SEATTLE, Jan. 24, 2013 PRNewswire -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) welcomes the progress being made in the 787 investigation discussed today by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C. The regulatory and investigative agencies in the U.S. and Japan have dedicated substantial resources to these investigations, and we appreciate their effort and leadership.
                        Funny this says Seattle and not Chicago .

                        If you do a google map search for 100 N Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606 , you will see what looks to my eye to be a building for bean counters .
                        I bet the team that does the design engineering isn't in Chicago . But they might be , who knows .  

                        "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                        by indycam on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:44:52 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Press releases can be made from anywhere (5+ / 0-)

                          Typically the first word the publicist places on the form is the city they want it to originate from.  I would suspect that corporate is trying to distance themselves from the damage they caused.

                          As I design engineer, I know that the design team does not get to make sourcing decisions of this magnitude, they're made by the bean counters.  Not just the fabrication / assembly work was outsourced, the bidders were required to provide design work for their sub-assembly.  So while there may have been standards and requirements set forth, it doesn't appear that there was an effective mechanism for enforcing compliance in place.

                          Management always sees joint development projects as a way to save development costs.  They think that they will be able to bring a new product to market for half the cost.  Yet, every joint development I've been on has cost more than doing it in house.  There is so much 'forming, storming and norming" that no one gets the chance to perform.

                          “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

                          by markdd on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:38:00 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Nice to see (4+ / 0-)

                            Nice to see someone else in this exchange knows what the hell they're talking about and not just quoting "press releases".  

                             

                            So while there may have been standards and requirements set forth, it doesn't appear that there was an effective mechanism for enforcing compliance in place.
                            Bingo!  We've come full circle to "Nice to see".
                          •  Been there, done that (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BroadwayBaby1

                            I wear the T-shirt when I change the oil in the car.

                            “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

                            by markdd on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 09:38:13 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Been there (0+ / 0-)

                            Been there, done that, yada,yada, yada since Jimmy Carter was president.  I've seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and in the Dreamliner's case, the unexplainable.  

                          •  Bingo nothing . (0+ / 0-)

                            You go and find that someone makes the same mistake you have and you feel that proves you correct ?

                            Have you read the Av week yet ? It really does tell the story of the problem very well .
                            Do you understand why the question was asked if they were thinking about getting rid of the "Li-ion" ?
                            You could hear about the problems from people who understand , or you could go on as you are .

                            So while there may have been standards and requirements set forth, it doesn't appear that there was an effective mechanism for enforcing compliance in place.
                            "may have been" ? "it doesn't appear" ? "Bingo" ?
                            Its not a problem of "enforcing compliance" of "standards and requirements set forth" .
                            That is not what is going on .
                            Boeing said lets go with large li-ion batteries , batteries that are known to be unsafe , batteries that have been tried and rejected in other aircraft , batteries that have been replaced in other aircraft when these very same problems happened .

                            Do you know at what temperature the li-ion battery melts and goes on fire ? Do you know the same for nickle ?
                            Do you know what thermal runaway is ?
                            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                            Especially prone to thermal runaway are lithium-ion batteries.
                            ...................................................................
                            http://www.bobatkins.com/...
                            As of January 8th 2008 the TSA (transportation security authority) has some new restriction on transport of lithium batteries on aircraft. Basically they don't want large lithium batteries carried on aircraft because of the (remote, but real) possibility that they may catch fire. They REALLY don't want them in checked baggage and they don't want too many in carry-on luggage.
                            http://airsafe.com/...
                            More on Lithium Batteries

                            The term "lithium battery" may refer to a lithium ion battery, lithium metal battery, or a lithium polymer battery. Lithium polymer batteries are a kind of lithium ion battery. Lithium ion batteries re rechargeable lithium batteries, like the ones found in cameras, cell phones, laptop computers, and radio-controlled toys. While smaller lithium ion batteries are allowed on aircraft, larger ones containing more than 25 grams Equivalent Lithium Content (ELC) are not. An indirect measure of ELC is watt-hours, with eight grams ELC being equal to about 100 watt-hours. If you are not sure of your battery's ELC or watt-hour measurement, or if your kind of battery is allowed on the flight, check with your airline or with the manufacturer of your battery.

                            Another kind of lithium battery that is banned from airliners are lithium metal batteries with more than two grams of lithium. The lithium metal batteries commonly used by consumers usually don't have this much lithium, but if you are unsure you should check.

                            http://www.wired.com/...
                            The lithium-ion batteries used in the 787 are relatively new batteries made of relatively large cells compared to those used in most consumer devices. The history of lithium-ion batteries has many thinking the problem might not be a “teething problem” with the airplane, but instead an issue with the batteries.

                            Unlike the well-proven, and relatively small bundles of battery cells used in consumer devices or even the Tesla electric car known as “18650s,” the batteries in the 787 made by GS Yuasa of Japan are produced in low numbers and are not used in many applications. And as the focus on the battery continues, one lithium-ion expert says the large batteries used by Boeing simply increase the potential for failure.

                            http://www.technologyreview.com/...
                            The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board chairman, Deborah Hersman, said yesterday that the battery that recently caught fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Boston showed signs of short circuiting and a phenomenon called thermal runaway.

                            The specific lithium ion battery chemistry used in the airplane—lithium cobalt oxide—is particularly prone to thermal runaway, in which heat in a battery triggers more heating until it catches fire (see “Grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners Use Batteries Prone to Overheating”). Thermal runaway can be triggered by a short circuit between the electrodes in a battery. The NTSB said that it is not clear why safeguards put into place to stop thermal runaway didn’t work.

                            http://www.technologyreview.com/...
                            Because the electrolyte materials used are flammable, no lithium-ion batteries are completely safe. Some companies are developing a version that doesn’t use these electrolytes (see “Solid-State Batteries”). Consequently, battery makers install various safety features, including electronics designed to prevent overcharging. They also often include sensors and cooling systems.

                            According to GS Yuasa, its battery for the 787 “comes with battery management electronics which guarantees multiple levels of safety features.” A specification sheet for the batteries warns, “Inappropriate handling or application of the cells can result in reduced cell life and performance, electrolyte leakage, high cell temperatures, and even the possibility of smoke generation and fire.”

                            Boeing declined to comment on its selection of battery chemistries.

                            "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                            by indycam on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:36:26 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Still not an outsourcing problem (0+ / 0-)

                            http://www.nytimes.com/...

                            In what would seem to be the worst possible outcome right now, Boeing might also have to redesign its powerful new lithium-ion battery system, or even switch back to older, safer models. Aviation experts said such changes could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and shave off some of the 20 percent savings in fuel costs that the new jets have delivered.
                            One risk for Boeing is that adjustments in the lithium-ion batteries could require changes in other electrical equipment. But the biggest risk is that the batteries could prove too volatile, and Boeing would have to redesign its systems to use heavier and less-efficient nickel-cadmium batteries.
                            The F.A.A. set a series of conditions in 2007 to ensure that the 787’s batteries did not overheat or spew flammable materials. It was reviewing whether the company had properly taken those steps.

                            "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                            by indycam on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:47:16 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  What industry are you in ? (0+ / 0-)
                            I know that the design team does not get to make sourcing decisions of this magnitude, they're made by the bean counters.
                            Do you think the bean counters said lets do "Li-ion" ? Do you think the bean counters overruled the engineers on the " Li-ion" issue ?

                            As a design engineer would you have ever said yes to a bean counter saying to put a "Li-ion" battery pack in when you know the history of "Li-ion" battery on aircraft ?

                            As I design engineer, I know that the design team does not get to make sourcing decisions of this magnitude, they're made by the bean counters.  Not just the fabrication / assembly work was outsourced, the bidders were required to provide design work for their sub-assembly.  So while there may have been standards and requirements set forth, it doesn't appear that there was an effective mechanism for enforcing compliance in place.
                            You still don't get it , its not a matter of outsourcing . Nobody outside Boeing said to Boeing that they had to use "Li-ion" batteries . That was a design engineering problem .
                            I would suspect that corporate is trying to distance themselves from the damage they caused.
                            You point a finger at corp when you must know that the design engineers did the design work .
                            Management always sees joint development projects as a way to save development costs.
                            This isn't a joint development problem .

                            Boeing screwed up , they failed , they failed to spec out the batteries to be not "Li-ion" , they failed to notice the problems before they handed over the aircraft .

                            Typically the first word the publicist places on the form is the city they want it to originate from.
                            Marc Birtel
                            Boeing Commercial Airplanes
                            +1 425-266-5822
                            Wanna guess where area code 425 is ?

                            "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                            by indycam on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:53:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm a technician . (0+ / 0-)

                            Optical , mechanical , electric and electronic .
                            I deal with the equipment that design engineers design .
                            There are design engineers who know what they are doing and then
                            there are other design engineers who should find another line of work .
                            Some designs are nightmares , some are dreams .
                            I've worked on equipment that shows design brilliance .
                            I've worked on equipment that shows something else completely .

                            "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                            by indycam on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:01:59 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  That's silly. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    LilithGardener

                    They were either moving to Denver, Chicago or, i think, one of the Texas cities, mainly because their executives were tired of flying four hours to DC and wanted to be in better proximity to all their plants and offices.

                    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

                    by Bush Bites on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:17:11 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Boeing's outsourcing (4+ / 0-)

            Boeing did not just outsource manufacturing, that is something that all aircraft manufacturers have done since at least the massive buildups during WW2.

            Boeing outsourced the engineering and design. In many cases probably gave away their technological crown jewels. There was a quote in AW&ST by a Japanese manager to the effect that they now had the expertize to design and build composite airplanes of their own. Japan build the wings, probably the most critical part of the airframe, the fuselage is essentially a salami that gets sliced to length.

            I suppose there were not enough designers at the "Chicago based Boeing Aircraft Co."

            •  Newsflash. (0+ / 0-)

              Rumor has it Japan has computers.  Even a company that makes them.  I think it's called Toshiba.  Also, getting word that there's a bunch of CAD/CAM/CAE/FEA software to go with it, as well as decades worth of documentation and textbooks that reveal our deepest, darkest secrets on laminar flow.

              •  But Boeing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DixieDishrag

                had developed sophisticated proprietary software regarding Boeing aircraft and parts design.  In order for Japan to build to spec that software would have had to be shared. so yep Boeing gave away the crown jewels in order to save a buck.  

                Bean Counter's should NEVER write policy or influence engineering design.  They are bean counters who's specialty is counting beans. That is a specialty that advises decision makers how much it is going to cost and are not decision makers themselves except when it comes to buying more pencils and adding machines to count beans.

                Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

                by DarkHawk98 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:13:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  So you specify common formats for exchanging data. (0+ / 0-)

                  If you're contracting out work to Mitsubishi or GE or GS Yuasa, you're probably looking for these companies to bring their own resources and expertise to bear on the problem.  You're not standing up their design, engineering adn plant teams for them and telling them how to do their jobs.  

                  And where do you get the idea that Bean Counters should never write policy or influence design?  You think these companies exist as money trees for engineers to build whatever they want, however they want, on whatever timetable and for whatever cost?

                  •  Short Versus Long-Term Focus (3+ / 0-)

                    Unfortunately, the finance team and accountants typically have a focus on only the short-term results for the enterprise.  If they can save a buck today, even if it means they'll go out of business tomorrow, they're likely to do it.  All that matters is making the next quarter or looking good over the next year.  We've seen this demonstrated again and again and again in industry.  Just think of the Ford Pinto disaster, caused by trying to save a few bucks.  It only cost the lives of a couple of people, but, hey, that's collateral damage to the finance and accounting crowd in the corporate world.

                    The issue is who calls the final shots in the decisions.  When Boeing was headquartered in Seattle, where they were founded and the business grew up, the engineers and builders overshadowed the other arms of business.  In Chicago, located specifically there to get away from the operating components of the enterprise to avoid favoritism among the operating groups after Boeing's acquisition of McDonnell Douglas, the finance and accounting crew will dominate because all they're looking at are the numbers.  Corporations begin to run into problems when they begin to believe that the simulation which is the accounting spreadsheet is actually reality in the physical world and can make decisions solely on that basis.  Such thinking kills businesses.

                    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

                    by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:38:27 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You have to balance both. (0+ / 0-)

                      That's why we supposedly have management.  I'm not saying accountants should dictate policy, but they certainly need to give management the long and short on resources available to pursue a whole slate of projects, and they need to provide a financial outlook on various priority configurations in order for managers to make an informed decision.

                      Boeing and many other engineering firms enjoyed a glut of defense dollars for much of the 20th century.  At a time when you had a customer that would buy five or more airframes for the same role, America could afford to indulge the cost-plus shop.  Times have changed.

                      •  Should and Do Diverge (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        DixieDishrag, louisprandtl

                        The finance and accounting shops should do lots of things.  Unfortunately, too much emphasis gets placed on the short term outlook versus the long term in most American enterprise these days and has for far too long.  When the only operative aphorism is "We have to survive to get to tomorrow" without understanding that survival means different things for different people in the business, then some pretty shoddy decisions get approved.  Opting for the short-term solution in almost all cases is what's brought us to the situation we find ourselves in today.  Boeing is a part of that culture and we shouldn't be surprise to find it stuck in tar pit.

                        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

                        by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:35:46 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

      •  Cultural differences don't make 0.3 in = 0 in. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DixieDishrag
    •  Some Boeing engineers seem to think there were (5+ / 0-)

      outsourcing problems. But I thought they were addressing finish problems in the overall construction. That of course would have nothing to do with a battery malfunction unless the electronics were from all over hell and gone too.

      WW II Liberty ships sometimes broke up in storms because the prefab hull sections didn't have a tight enough fit and finish relative to each other and the welds would fail.  And in the 1930s it was proven that aircraft could be mass produced on an assembly line like cars. But this was done in facilities that built parts and delivered them to the assembly line in the same factory complex with lots of coordination possible between plants.

      I built scenery for theatre for a lot of years and my experience  was that if one person built a unit that had three sections fitting together, when you assembled the set onstage the piece would fasten together without any major problems. But if three people built a section each, there where always tolerance problems.

      There are a whole lot of practicals you can't pound into a front office bean counters head, even if you wrote them on a nail and went to work with 20 oz hammer.

  •  Not just outsourcing, but poor regulation (6+ / 0-)

    Look at the battery chemistry Boeing used.  Blithely signed off on by the FAA -- yet passed on by the likes of General Motors and Nissan because they feared fires in their cars.  Frankly, I don't see the 787 flying again until this is addressed, and that could be a year or two.  

    And what of the main comeptition, the Airbus A350?  Well, they were headed for a mistake too -- except for one key cautious decision by their management.  They decided to keep several key controls run by hydraulics rather than hybrid electrics, with the result that the A350 actually uses less electrical power than the A330.  It's not a major challenge, therefore, for Airbus to migrate the A350 back to tried-and-tested battery systems, while the 787 is in deep, deep trouble.

    •  All new planes have kinks. (0+ / 0-)

      The li-ion batteries are the kind of bold move we need to see more of, not less.

      Somebody in this thread had a link to the story of the DeHavilland Comet, but that plane experienced 3 hull losses -- two of them fatal -- in it's first year of commercial operation.

      Far more Dreamliners have flown far more flights and far more miles without a single hull loss.

      I hope they find the root cause of the battery problems quickly and get the plane back into the air.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 02:13:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm a bit leery of li-ion batteries (9+ / 0-)

        We don't even really like to carry them as cargo.

        UPS lost a 747 not too long ago due to an inflight fire - probably caused by a shipment of li-ion batteries.

        Fire in flight is your worst nightmare.

        You have maybe 20 minutes to put it on the ground before the fire burns through something you need to fly the plane with.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:17:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong kind of lithium-ion batteries! (8+ / 0-)

        So-called lithium-ion batteries actually are a family of several different types of chemistry, each of which shares lithium -- the most electrically reactive metal, and thus the one with the best energy density.  But the rest of the chemistry varies widely.  Lithium is tricky stuff to manage.

        Boeing chose to go with lithium-cobalt batteries, the ones with the highest energy density.  They're used in cell phones, where weight matters.  Trouble is, they're also inherently explosive, so you have to be very careful with them.  They're also not generally used for anything bigger than a laptop computer.  Electric cars use either nickel-metal-hydride batteries (old, proven, but heavier) or a different lithium chemisty.  The Chevy Volt uses lithium-manganese batteries; it's not quite as light as cobalt, but much lighter (per joule) than NiMH.  (The actual chemistry of the Volt batteries isn't public; it may be a manganese-cobalt-nickel mix.  But it's not explosive cobalt dioxide.)

        This decision was made by Boeing.  Then the went through a chain of suppliers to create the actual battery.  Lithium-cobalt batteries need very careful charge control electronics to stay safe, plus thermal sensors.  So one company (GS Yuasa) made the cells, another fabricated the batteries, and they outsourced the electronics to a Vietnamese factory, and a French company oversaw the whole electrical system.  Lots of finger-pointing will go on.

        I suspect the big problem now is that alternative battery chemistries, while safer, might not fit into the space set aside for the two big lithium-cobalt monsters now in each Dreamliner.

        •  Thanks for that informative post (0+ / 0-)

          There's so much going on here that almost any attempt to explain the situation, and predict the outcome, risks oversimplification.  

          I think I heard that a Chevy Volt battery caught fire five days after a car was test-crashed in the lab.  What might happen when GS Yuasu's Li-Co battery, trickier technology, is fitted in an aircraft which subsequently makes a hard, or not-so-hard landing?  

          Planning a vacation or convention in Arizona? Come to Palm Springs instead! Same desert weather, none of the smog, traffic and bigotry.

          by grey skies turning to blue on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 05:53:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Dreamliner Weight Objectives (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BroadwayBaby1, louisprandtl

          From the beginning of the program, Boeing had focused on keeping the structural weight of the Dreamliner as low as possible to maximize profits for the airlines.  Obviously, one way to do this was to opt for the a maximum energy density device to keep weight down and maximize space aboard the airframe.  Going back at this stage is simply going to reduce the hauling capacity for the airliner, because it will be carrying more weight in a larger space.  So, Boeing is going to be faced with the decision - take a hit on the negotiated contracts or face the prospect of having contracts cancelled outright because the plane isn't flying at all.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:45:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  oversimplification (4+ / 0-)

      Outsourcing is going to be a way of life, especially in thing like planes.  Boeing needs to sell planes to foreign country.  One major way to get buy in for those sales is to include them in the supply chain.  Some say Boeing likely sourced the batteries in exchange for sales.  Right or wrong, this decision supplied critical early revenue.

      Second, if we are going to manufacture in the US, we have to educate for it.  For a long time we coasted off the fact that many kids were raised on farms or in large homes with workshops, as I was.  Today most kids are urban and do ever touch a mechanical object.  An iPos cannot be fixed like a cassete player, which I spent my childhood taking apart.

      So we must spend more time in school teaching this.  One approach is to make sure visual art, music, and technical classes are taught by people who know the art and science.  Another is to bring more administers who are skilled in spatial recognition, are mechanical inclined, and understand process, instead of simply have taught grammer or how to hit a ball,

      Then we must realize that in the US we can do better than other places and charge for that excellence.  I have worked in places where we have done so, so I know it is possible.  I do not know that the dreamliner is worse than the A330.  I do not see the dreamliner failing on 50 year technology used to determine airspeed.  I see it failing by trying new things.

      And there is nothing wrong with failure when you are trying to be innovative.  What is scary, and the reason I lose faith in the US, is that some many people think that failure when trying to be innovative is bad.  Sure the batteries are a serious technical issue, but I have faith we have the cleverness to overcome the issue.

    •  The Boeing Company knows better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subterranean

      When they used composite  material on the 767 for flaps and spoilers they apparently insisted on their own formulation for the resin. Resin was too brittle and the flight controls suffered delamination and cracking when hit by hail. One Lufthansa 767 going into Munich had to have all flaps replaced.

      Somehow they did not want to listen to CIBA Geigy. Geigy had made the resin to glue the stringers to the wing skin of the Comets. Testing to destruction on a decommissioned airframe indicated that the bond was still airworthy after a full lifetime of flying.

    •  How does Japan's regulatory environment compare? (0+ / 0-)
  •  The Screamliner is the outsourced model. Send it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    back and demand the American made Dreamliner you ordered.

  •  Mickey D (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whenwego, greengemini, Mr Robert, BusyinCA

    I worked at a McDonnell-Douglas parts plant in Torrance, Ca. that made over 100,000 different parts.The place was shut down, everyone laid off and the machines shipped overseas. It wasn't long after that and the company went belly up. The WSJ called it a continuing series of management blunders. It sounds like Boeing hired these geniuses. I hope they turn things around. I get a retirement check from them every month. ;-)

    •  McDonnell Pre Outsourcing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grimjc, happymisanthropy, jakedog42

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:39:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A few old Boeing hands (6+ / 0-)

      claim that Boeing bought MD but MD took over Boeing....

      “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

      by markdd on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:48:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, as a former Boeing employee (6+ / 0-)

        I know that is true.

      •  very true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DixieDishrag

        If you compare how Boeing pre:MD worked with how Boeing post:MD worked, you couldn't help recognizing this. Boeing's 777 was clearly built by airplane nerds, even at the top management level. You could tell during the design and development process that Boeing top management along with customer top management were crawling all over the plane as part of the "Working Together" theme. The idea was the Boeing had an open design process that they were proud of and wanted to get customers (mainly United, but others as well) involved early.

        MD mainly handles guaranteed profit military contracts, which was more or less the way both sides handled things during the Cold War. They'd make a profit no matter what was built, how or how long it took or what it cost. The important thing was coalition building to develop a healthy political base for lobbying and diffusing blame and responsibility. You want to subcontract as much as you can. Project failures were essentially business opportunities for service, redesign and retrofit.

        Boeing tried to build the 777 the way they'd build a plane for the government, and they are paying the price. In the long run, I expect the 777 to be a success and to set the model for how jets will be built in the future.

        An awful lot of our future depends on new battery technology, not just for computers or cars, but for load balancing non-carbon consuming energy sources. If you think the 777 uses a lot of battery power now, remember, this was to eliminate engine "bleeds" use hydrocarbons for flying, not passenger PCs and A/C. I read a recent proposal to eliminate all the fuel burned when a jet taxis by using electric motors in the wheels. That would mean even more batteries. I'm anticipating that the battery problem will be solved, though it may take another decade. I'm expecting Boeing's battery problem to be solved well before then.

        They call it "bleeding edge" technology for a reason. The military can live on the bleeding edge because they have an "at all costs" mentality, but a private market requires a better understanding of how things are made and put together to work properly.

      •  We live in the Seattle area (0+ / 0-)

        and have a close friend who is a test flight engineer for Boeing. He says the same thing -- the merger resulted in decision-making being move into the hands of the same managers who drove M-D into the ground. Boeing used to be an engineering-centric company. Now the bean counters rule.

        The 99% believe corporations are not people. The 1% believe the 99% are not people.

        by DixieDishrag on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:38:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Those geniuses (5+ / 0-)

      were the ones that bought Boeing with Boeing's money. Remember Stonecipher et al?

      MR. McDonnell started the ball rolling downhill when he bought Douglas, and thought that selling to airlines is like selling to the Pentagon. In fact McDonnell is a one trick pony, the F4 Phantom.

    •  Mickey D got run over by Boeing. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jakedog42, DixieDishrag, louisprandtl

      In commercial fix wing, that is.  And aerospace can't live by defense contract alone; not since the 1970s.  You can call it a continuing series of blunders, or flailing about, or trying whatever you can to find a market somewhere else in aerospace.  Getting people to buy things that fly and the services that use them is a crowded business.

      •  One of the reasons (3+ / 0-)

        MD went under is they only had two planes to offer while Boeing and Airbus has a bunch of different types for different markets. That and the fact that Sandy McDonnell thought he could sell a plane that cost 110 million to build for 100 million and make a profit. That making it up with volume thing didn't quite work out. Side note. My first job out of high school was working for Douglas Aircraft, crawling inside the wings of DC 8's sealing the fuel tanks.

  •  Quality Control is the problem (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, BroadwayBaby1, Mr Robert

    A gap of 0.3 inches should never have been tolerated, just to name one issue.

  •  This thing's been so outsourced, (4+ / 0-)

    I'm surprised it hasn't been nicknamed "the Bainliner."

    Proponents of gun violence own guns. Opponents of gun violence do not own guns. What part of this do you not understand?

    by Liberal Panzer on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 12:01:39 PM PST

  •  Screamliner n/t (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:10:14 PM PST

  •  I'm fond of Boeings (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bisbonian, annieli, earicicle, miscanthus

    but I worry that this plane may be pushing the leading edge just a little too much.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:14:13 PM PST

  •  Yeah, another merger that worked so well (12+ / 0-)

    McDonnell - Douglas; two companies that had a track record of building decent aircraft over the years. Then they merged. And then they became part of Boeing.

    And the collective IQ of management seems to have gone down with every merger. Which, come to think of it, seems to sum up what has happened to a lot of American industry once we stopped enforcing anti-monopoly laws. Big, fat, and dumb - but the people who make money putting these deals together always seem to do well.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:27:52 PM PST

    •  And Eliminated Compressive Individual Taxation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, PrahaPartizan

      so that there was a reason for hyper profit seeking at the expense of stable growth.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:56:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My dad was a machinist at McDonnel Douglas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, PrahaPartizan

      and it was a good paying union job that pulled him out of being a poor family man to the middle class. His GI bill paid for his training to become a highly skilled machinist after WW2 . Same with two uncles, and many of the kids Dad's I went to school with. When Boeing merged with our beloved McDonnell Douglas, we saw the end of an era pass around here. I hate to see Boeing doing so much outsourcing.

      "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."- Henry James

      by Canaryinthecoalmine on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 07:58:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have friends working lots of overtime because (0+ / 0-)

    of this major oversight.

    "Senators are a never-ending source of amusement, amazement, and discouragement" ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:32:50 PM PST

  •  This is very bad. Boeing is all in on the 787. (4+ / 0-)

    We thought it was going to be the workhorse the 707 was.

    AOG is serious business.  (airplane on the ground)  I can only imagine the work that is happening right now with a fleet on the ground.  

    This has never happened.  This is awful.

    My gun control petition was shot down.

    by 88kathy on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:33:59 PM PST

  •  Airbus... (0+ / 0-)

    ....is just going to roll all over this.

    What is the recourse of an airline that just took delivery on some new 787s to find that they're all grounded?  Can they send them back to Boeing for a refund?

    •  Airbus doesn't have much room to talk (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WillR, Bush Bites, DixieDishrag

      The A380 hasn't exactly been flawless either - an engine on a Qantas A380 blew and caused some serious damage to the aircraft on takeoff a few years back, fortunately the pilots were able to land it safely. A few carriers using the same engine voluntarily grounded their fleet of A380s for awhile while it was being investigated. Granted, a voluntarily grounding isn't as bad as a mandated one. But all airplane models have some teething issues.

      Don't know what kind of recourse the airlines have - the 787's reputation is certainly tarnished and people may be less willing to fly on 787s and the carriers who operate them. Personally, I'd have no problem getting on a 787 for a long haul flight tomorrow if the FAA let them fly. But I could see why some flyers, especially those with a fear of flying, would avoid them in the short term.

      I don't think airlines are going to want to refund the planes, however. In a few years, this will all be forgotten and people will be making it a point to jump on a 787 for their long haul flights (just like some people make it a point to book flights on A380s despite their issues). The DC-10 was grounded in the 70s but went on to be a staple of airlines' fleets for many years.

      But ultimately, a plane not in the air with butts in the seats is not making money (hence why low cost carriers like Southwest so heavily focus on turnaround times at the gate). So you know the airlines are going to have a court battle with Boeing for compensation when this is all said and done.

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:13:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The composite material always bothered me. (0+ / 0-)

        That hasn't even been a problem yet, but i bet it will as the airplanes age.

        "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

        by Bush Bites on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:21:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Who Made the Engine Decision? (0+ / 0-)

        Before blaming Airbus for an engine failure, one should determine just who made the decision to use that particular engine.  From my reading of the industry, it's the airline who decides who will be the engine supplier.  Almost all of the major airframes are designed to accommodate at least two engine makers, more likely three.  Further, the engine acquisition is often handled totally separately from the airframe purchase - different specs, different financing, the lot.  As I recall, that Qantas Airbus was flying with Rolls-Royce engines, as one might expect given the historical relationship between Australia and the UK.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:04:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A380 buyers can choose between (0+ / 0-)

          RR Trent 900 or Engine Alliance's GP7200. Initially most of the buyers ordered the Rolls engine. The "sleeping with the enemy" american combo based at east hartford finally started catching up after sometime the initial A380!orders.

  •  Let's get serious here. (13+ / 0-)

    The final line of this diary reads:  "Hopefully, more companies than just Boeing will treat the Dreamliner's grounding as a cautionary tale."

    Never happen.

    Boeing outsourced the 787 to kill the unions.  Companies will continue to outsource no matter what the results because their desire to kill unions and increase profits outweighs every other consideration.

    •  That is what it is all about (4+ / 0-)

      Why should outsourcing development be more efficient when you lose local control? Most of the aircraft industry have come to realize that you have to have QA engineers living at the foreign plant to make usable parts. Why would this be cheaper? It must be one simple reason, the belief that other plants can develop and manufacture new products cheaper that Boeing because they have cheaper labor and don't have unions. Just in time manufacturing is the same story. Labor is moved from union shops to struggling suppliers with no union. Functionally it should be more profitable to be vertically integrated as you get to keep the value added from every step. This was engineering in the US in the 50s, 60s and 70s. That's how engineering and manufacturing should be in the future.

    •  Boeing sells internationally... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grapes, louisprandtl, Odysseus

      ...and some protectionist countries "motivate" suppliers/vendors to include local content in those products. The NYT has an interesting article on this with respect to Japan (where the batteries came from) for example.

      As it's not cost effective to build 10 factories in different countries to build 787s, each building for their local market, a compromise is to make parts in the various countries.

      All new and innovative planes (and products in general) have teething problems. Recall the expensive Airbus A380 wing bracket cracking problems. Or, the delay in Airbus's A350 XWB program caused by manufacturing problems.

      •  good point ... boeing's market is global (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PrahaPartizan

        buying enough parts from a foreign country can almost guarantee that their national airline will buy finished planes from you.

        by recent treaties, that's not supposed to happen ... but it does.

        Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

        by grapes on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:53:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Software problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob

        Nothing new there either. Ask any machinist who sets up and runs CNC machines. The programmers are usually not well versed in machining. Just reading the spec charts is not enough.

        I knew a cnc machinist in the tool and die shop where I worked, he could program better than I can type. Just about every job was one off. The programs that came down from engineering were usually suspect, feeds, tolerances etc.

    •  Outsource liability? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miggles, Just Bob

      Can Boeing outsource the liability?

  •  "Risk-averse"? (3+ / 0-)

    Boeing used to be all about taking on business risk (see the book "The Sporty Game") and minimizing technical risk, being famous for "belt and suspenders" engineering.

    Boeing has not been the same company since they swallowed McDonnell Douglas and got parasites in their brain as a result.

  •  Risk averse description makes no sense (3+ / 0-)

    If you are outsourcing, you are actually introducing more risk into the workflow because you as a centralized management concede some control to the outsourcer. It is actually more risky because you are gambling that the savings will be worth it.

    I would hate to see some sloppy wording distract from the point of the diary.

  •  I'll post this link again (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, MJB, Miggles, Just Bob

    "Senators are a never-ending source of amusement, amazement, and discouragement" ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:50:23 PM PST

  •  Outsourcing not the problem, poor management (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobinson, hmi, NoMoJoe, DixieDishrag

    It doesn't matter where you make stuff. What counts is how managers use their time and resources and enforce accountability. And they need to be accountable themselves which would inspire the workers to be in it for the same cause - building great products.

    You had GM making unreliable cars in Detroit over the years (which seems to be changing recently).
    Sure the workers were not producing the best cars in terms of defect free, but the blame should go to the managers who were supposed to introduce processes that make QC better.

    •  it *does* matter where you make stuff (8+ / 0-)

      my experience with remote manufacturing (as well as remote software-development) is that is does matter where you make it.

      it matters not because people "over there" are bad - it matters because people who do stuff mostly need supervision because (not a newsflash) not everyone cares about the quality of the work they do.

      I've done hands-on leading of teams in the same building, in the next town, and at a 12-hour time difference, and where your do-ers are located relative to leader makes all the difference.

      Only a small fraction of people care about what they do and how well they do it, and there aren't enough people who care.

      Before outsourcing, people still screwed up, but back in "the day", not everyone was spread so thin that they had no time to monitor quality and take corrective action.

      Fact: manufacturing (or creating software) 3000 (or even 500) miles away comes at a real cost effective coordination and  motivation of people can't be done by email or video-conference.

      Boeing (and every other outsourcing company) has more than one problem. A major problem is that there aren't enough people to properly manage and execute the manufacturing process - profit has shaved everything down to the bone. Add a 12 hour timezone difference and it's a recipe for disaster. I see this on a daily basis

      •  On the average, Outsourcing is riskier (0+ / 0-)

        No argument there. But outsourcing by itself is not the culprit though all things being equal, obviously, a local operation will always be easier to monitor. . It depends on the savings, complexity of the projects, the kind of products made and how conducive they are to a sort of black box QCing. If you know the company and it has some pride in their work and want to retain the outsourced contract badly, it can work.

        You pretty much have to weigh the cost savings and if those savings will more than offset the extra cost incurred in monitoring something supplied from a different country.

    •  Outsourced aircraft parts were notoriously tightly (4+ / 0-)

      ... controlled. I once hired a machinist who had done outsource aircraft parts. He described it like this: The job is to machine 100 identical parts out of aluminum blocks. The customer supplies the aluminum blocks. Each one is numbered and documented. Each one must be made out of non-recycled pure aluminum. If during the production process something goes wrong, say a block gets chucked out of the vice during machining, that block gets cut in half and delivered to the customer so that all 100 blocks are accounted for. Fixing mistakes was a no-no. Everything had to be correct from the start.

      I wonder if the outsourcing is still as stringent.


      i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

      by bobinson on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:27:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Boeing is technologically degenerate. (0+ / 0-)

    They haven't made any major progress in over 40 years, and even if this thing worked perfectly it wouldn't represent much of an improvement.

    Pour yourself into the future.

    by Troubadour on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:07:17 PM PST

    •  You are obviously not an aerospace engineer.. (4+ / 0-)
      •  Let me get this straight. (3+ / 0-)

        Planes don't go faster, they don't go higher, the 787 has many fewer seats than the 747, but...it's somewhat more fuel efficient.  All of the savings of which will go to the airlines rather than passengers, as they cram ever more people in ever tinier spaces.  And it doesn't work.  Indeed, I'm not an aerospace engineer - but it's not like Boeing cares what aerospace engineers think, does it?  

        Pour yourself into the future.

        by Troubadour on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:29:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I suggest you check the tech specs of 767 and 787. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PrahaPartizan

          I think you will find enough technological advances between the two aircraft made about 30 years apart..

          •  I'm type-rated on the 767 (5+ / 0-)

            It may be 30-year-old tech but it at least has the advantage of not spontaneously combusting.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:22:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Getting bogged down in the technical specs is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            squarewheel

            missing the point and won't convince the end customer.  How long did it take to fly non-stop JFK-LAX in 1973?  How long does it take today?

            •  Which End Customer? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              louisprandtl

              It all depends on just which end customer you are referring to?  Is it the flying public?  Is it the airline?  For Boeing, the Dreamliner was designed for the airline.  It can accommodate the flying public, but that is the airline's decision on how to go about doing it.  Boeing's task is to design and build an airplane which can fly safely between City A and City B at a speed allowed by the FAA (hence, no supersonic airliners to be expected) with as many passengers and as much cargo as the airlines desire at the cheapest possible fuel consumption, crewing requirements and maintenance.  Boeing's problem here is that "safely" issue seems a little questionable.

              "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

              by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:14:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Boeing wanted to spread the risk of developing (4+ / 0-)

    a new aircraft amongst its Tier 1 partners. The aim was to become an aircraft system integrator rather than the traditional aircraft manufacturer. The brainchild of some hotshot MBAs who thought having a global supply chain would be a simple management problem with lower production cost with little thought given to tight quality control tolerances, need for thousands of QC inspectors to inspect the suppliers's manufacturing, blind faith on supplier QC, complexity of parts logistics given the global supply chain base et al..
    But this aircraft is truly a technological marvel and i hope it's successful.

    •  Yes, but I think Boeing is learning the tough (5+ / 0-)

      lesson that systems integration alone is insufficient.  As this case illustrates, when problems crop up, Boeing can't fix them because they have almost zero domain knowledge at the detailed levels where fixes would be made.  Sure, they integrated at a high level, but now they need to either train a bunch of people pronto or pay for an extremely expensive, outsourced fix.

      •  Yes that's exactly the point. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miggles, PrahaPartizan, BroadwayBaby1

        In order to get some modicum of control over its supply chain Boeing ended up buying some of the suppliers e.g. parts of Vought including Global aeronautica and the SC plant.

        •  Helps to Have A Fuselage (4+ / 0-)

          Thanks for bringing this issue up.  I've been mystified by the apparent lack of awareness of this prior problem which Boeing had.  Boeing had to essentially redesign the fuselage on the Dreamliner as well as to ensure the composite fabrication was being done properly.  It seems that whole outsourcing the major fuselage components fiasco has been swept into the mists of time and forgotten totally.

          Love your nickname, assuming that it's not your own.  I'm sure that few people know to whom it might refer.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:24:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Boeing realized what other OEMs (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Miggles

            are realizing..this global supply chain with just in time shit can be a disaster and a potential money sink..OEMs like Boeing manufacture complex systems like air vehicles. It's not fucking Nike that one can buy some crappy shoes from some Chinese suppliers and rubberstamp the brand name and sell it for 10 times the production price! I can go on and on about the stupidity of MBAs and destruction of American technical expertise and knowledge base but that's another story.
            Yes that famous father of aeromechanics was somewhere from Bavaria, whereas it is rumored that this moron might have originated from Alsace-Lorraine..but it's only a rumor!

    •  If the rocks in your box all have MBAs, its still (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      louisprandtl

      a box of rocks.

    •  Agreed. I for one, as a matter of National.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      louisprandtl

      .... Security would like to see those MBA's get the acclaim they deserve.... Uncle Joe Stalin style.

      Boeing has become too important to US military and economic security to allow it to remain in private MBA dickhead control.

      Let's not make the same mistake of allowing the "free market" private management wreck the aerospace industry the way it did the auto industry.

      Yes, they wanted to "spread the risk", aka, like all republican scumbags, get someone else to pay for their success while claiming all the credit when things go right.

  •  And yet (0+ / 0-)

    here am I, reading this on an iPad—a fairly successfully outsourced machine.

  •  Were the batteries tested at cruising... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    louisprandtl

    ...altitude?  Stuff is different 35,000 feet in up.

  •  All the outsourcing accomplished (7+ / 0-)

    Was putting several thousand professional aircraft manufacturing workers into the unemployment line and replacing them with less skilled and lower paid workers. The few pennies they saved on labor is going to wind up costing Boeing three or four times that much before this is all said and done. Wait till the FAA takes one of those babies apart and starts to see all the patches and fixes that had to go into them just to accomplish the assembly. Not going to be pretty.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:39:04 PM PST

  •  Good! Fuck em (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BroadwayBaby1

    That's what they get for fucking with the aircraft workers union.

    Clinton/ Warren 2016

    by artr2 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 07:44:58 PM PST

  •  I'm involved in this supply chain (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoJoe, Subterranean

    and they also went entirely to paperless manufacturing, connecting suppliers through software, where they proceeded to treat them like internal engineering groups despite there being considerable skill gaps and many communication / data translation issues.

    By the time Boeing got each leg of the supply chain sorted out, and I believe much of it is sorted now, they paid significantly more in terms of time delays and materials than they would have under the older model.

    On the flip side, their long term bet is the more diverse supply chain will foster competition and have capacity flexibility they find far more expensive to do in-house.

    My professional life involves software and consulting on these issues.  Frankly, unless we deal with our economic policy, Boeing will prove themselves right on the longer haul, and they think really long term.

    ***Be Excellent To One Another***
    IF THEY ARE GOING TO SCREW THE PEOPLE, MAKE THEM OWN IT.

    by potatohead on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:47:35 PM PST

  •  Hardy har har. (0+ / 0-)

    I love it when people who spend an hour hunting down the lowest price they can find on Priceline whine about how airplanes are manufactured.

  •  Boeing Decided To become A "Virtual Company" (5+ / 0-)

    http://www.scmfocus.com/...

    Just outsource everything to the lowest bidders with no thought to protecting intellectual property, human capital, or quality.  Just have a Six Sigma guy come in to wave the dead chicken over it any you're good to go.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:32:02 PM PST

    •  Capitalism's fate - Engr'ing QA? Unaffordable .. (2+ / 0-)

      It's almost like a snake eating its tail. They can't possibly make a profit without embracing only the lowest bidders, then won't perform proper oversight in manufacturing and comprehensive testing/QA because that's just lost time/profit, so.. "let's see what happens.."

      IMO it's the reason a for-profit enterprise can't be trusted to build and run a nuclear power plant. Looks like there are just too many moving parts in an airliner to keep a for-profit's arms around that, too.

      I really thought an "improperly manufactured batch of batteries" would be cited as the cause for all this, last week. Looks like the problem may be a little (lots?) deeper.

      It's horrible to think that this was inevitable, but..  when focusing only on the approaching quarter's bottom line, getting broadsided is simply a matter of time.

      ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

      by FrankSpoke on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 03:17:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The 787 process was explicitly to screw the unions (7+ / 0-)

    The 787 was designed during a time when Boeing management had a very hostile relationship to the various unions in the company.    The outsourcing wasn't just a product of "oh, modern times, have to outsource" it was a an explicit attempt to break the power of the unions.  They also moved production to South Carolina, a "right to work" (kill the unions) state.   They moved the HQ away from Seattle in a fit of pique after a prolonged strike.

    The problems with the plane's production were entirely predictable.   Parts from different suppliers (I'm talking wings and nose sections) didn't fit and required extensive reworking at Seattle.   Sections were supposed to come preassembled (with nonunion labor) with wiring, etc. built in -- I hear that all of that had to be ripped out and redone here.  

    I don't know that union workers are inherently better than nonunion workers, but experienced workers are.  

    I don't know much of the inside story, just what I have been following as a resident of the area.

    The most interesting headline recently was possibly  787 battery blew up in ’06 lab test, burned down building.   (This may have been prompted by my comments about the securaplane employment lawsuit in the Seattle Times, the employee involved is the one who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that the company shipped parts to boeing that didn't match the manufacturing blueprints.)

    http://seattletimes.com/...

    •  And part of the problem may have NOTHING to... (0+ / 0-)

      do with the Unions, but in the design integration from manufacturing sites to assembly sites.

      But the fact that even design, development, production and testing are outsourced, too, argues against safety.

      Meh. Boeing.

      Ugh. --UB.

      "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

      by unclebucky on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:31:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed, an undercurrent in the whole concept.... (0+ / 0-)

      ... was to break the very powerful machinist's union.

      Like certain southern states under the voting rights act having limitations put on them, I'm thinking US Corporations need a new limitation:

      All officers Vice-President and above in US Corporations MUST BE Democrats. ;P

  •  Boeing execs think grounding is "overreach" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JimWilson, Just Bob, unclebucky
    Gordon Bethune, the former Boeing executive who left to run Continental Airlines — and who in that position bought the grounded Dreamliners now owned by United — is emphatic that the government overreached.

    He criticized the decision to ground the plane, which was made by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA chief Michael Huerta.

    “Neither of those two guys know the front end from the back of an airplane,” Bethune said.

    “They jumped the gun, but that’s the product of a cover-your-ass administration,” he fumed. “It’s heavy-handed, draconian and way, way beyond what needs to be done to protect the public.”

    After all, it is only a fire that cannot be put out, located in the electronics bay with all of the critical flight computers in a fly-by-wire aircraft that cannot be controlled without functioning computers.  

    http://seattletimes.com/...

    Go to ntsb.gov go see the latest investigation with pictures.   The boston electronics bay was a mess after the fire.

    •  Knowing an airline exec thinks safety concerns by (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unclebucky

      regulators  is, "way, way beyond what is needed to protect the public" is not reassuring to me, a possible future passenger on an aircraft with a history of controversial construction and power issues.

      I'm sorry that the traveling publics safety may cut into this suits next bonus.

  •  There could be other problems down the line, too. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unclebucky

    There aircraft runs at higher cabin humidity, and this might cause condensation/corrosion oroblems in time.

  •  Suffice to say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grabber by the Heel, unclebucky

    Suffice to say, you ain't seen nothing yet when it comes to problems with the Nightmare, pardon me, Dreamliner.  

  •  Doesn't surprise me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grabber by the Heel, unclebucky

    I worked in the aerospace industry for many years and the greed, arrogance, and outright stupidity are rampant. I am not a religious man, but I do a Hail Mary every time I travel on a U.S.-made plane (Airbus is just as bad).

  •  Soo, outsourcing to the cheapest supplier... (0+ / 0-)

    AIN'T SO CHEAP, huh?

    Step over a dollar to save a penny, eh, Boeing?

    Keep it in the family, stay WITH the union rather than against it and keep it in the USA.

    I'm gonna have to invest in a parachute and water wings, huh?... dang.

    ;o)

    Ugh. --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

    by unclebucky on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:26:58 AM PST

  •  I also was a quality manager (0+ / 0-)

    at a big corporation.

    When some of our outsourced parts were out of spec, with an abnormally high expected failure rate, and I objected to shipping the new product. I was told curtly in a private behind closed doors meeting with a senior executive that I "didn't understand the revenue implications" and that after the problem was solved the number of good units would more than make up for the initial bad units shipped.

    Or has he put it, "The solution to pollution is dilution".

    Then I asked for a transfer to a different assignment rather than approve shipping known bad units. 3 of my Quality Engineers followed suit.

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. Frank Zappa

    by Da Rock on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:36:25 AM PST

  •  Jobs Out (0+ / 0-)

    The outsourcing of jobs is never a good idea. It never saves time or money. It just wastes both. Keep as much as possible in house or local. This will lead to good communication, which will lead to less wasted time and money.

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