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.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.
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.