June 9th 2006 and a final composite fuselage section that was to be used in certifying The Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner failed. Mike Bair, then vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said in an interview at the time that the failure would not sidetrack the program, and the first planes should still be delivered on time to All Nippon Airways of Japan in mid-2008.
Problems with a new aeroplane and new methods of manufacture for massive composite structures naturally produced problems at an early stage.
Therefore at roll out on July 8th 2007 at the Everett plant the world was pleased to see a stunning sleek Dreamliner buy suptised to be yold later that..."What the world didn’t see under the plane’s shiny new paint job, were the 1,000 temporary fasteners that need to be replaced, its half-empty belly that still needs to be stuffed with 60 miles of wiring or the avionics systems that still need to be installed and tested.
While most new airplanes are rarely ready to fly when they are first “rolled out,” the 787 rework illustrates the tremendous pressure Boeing is under to get its airplane ready for first flight in late August, certification test flights this fall and commercial service in May 2008 with All Nippon Airways of Japan."
“We have no intentions to be late into service,’’ Boeing 787 chief Mike Bair told reporters Friday during a “rollout” briefing in Seattle.... but we now know that .."Boeing told suppliers to ship partly completed sections to its final-assembly bay in Everett."
"When mechanics later opened boxes and crates accompanying the fuselage sections, they found them filled with thousands of brackets, clips, wires and other items that already should have been installed. In some cases, officials say, components came with no paperwork at all, or assembly instructions written in Italian, requiring translation.
Boeing officials thought they could work through this unexpected twist in a couple of weeks. Instead, they had to put the plane up on jacks and remove its engines and tail to get to tight spots."Then on October 10th a 6month delay on the program was announced and a week later Bair was replaced by rising star Pat Shanahan who moves over from a VP spot in Boeing Missile Defense Position.
Now on Friday in advance of an update on Tuesday by Boeing management of progress on the 787 program the Wall Street Journal writes .."Boeing Scrambles to Repair Problems With New Plane"
The unique selling proposition of the 787 is that it's light weight due to composite and not metal construction and up rated enghines will lead to fuel savings - increasingly important as oil was US$20 a barrel when the 787 was planned and is now pushing US$90-100.
J. LYNN LUNSFORD of the WSJ identifies the problems in outsourcing and diversification - problems apparent from the get - go.
Recitation of the details of the problems and the hummumgous costs generated by throwing manpower at them all around the world might leave the onlooker a little puzzled ...especially noq that Airbus have 16 380's avtual;ly flying and Singapore Airlines have been running services for a month now without problems .. although wannabe Mile High Clubbers in the 12 private double bedded cabins are asked to desist .... or at least keep the noise down.
Boeing has 762 orders from 52 carriers for the plane, which will carry between 225 and 300 passengers. The combination of lightweight materials and fuel-efficient engines is expected to make it 20% cheaper to fly and a third less costly to maintain than older jets. Boeing says it has sold out of delivery slots until almost 2014, making it critical to get the jet into production without further setbacks.
Boeing hasn't only had suplier problems ...detailed in the WSJ article and ex employeee turned whistleblower - Lord Patel reported this on 18th September Boeing 787 Dreamliner - ex Boeing engineer with 46 yrs experience raises major concerns about safety on Dan Rather show tonight
Vincent Weldon worked for Boeing for 46 years from 1969-2006 - he worked on structural design of the Space Shuttle Orbiter and wored on composite structures from 1973 - 2006. working with USAF and NASA. He gives his address as 2970 Initial Avenue,Enumclaw, WA 98022 (360)825-78.
Vicent wrote to The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on July 24thb 2007 (11 page pdf text in full) and outlined his concerns abaout the Dreamliner as a response to the FAA invitation for people to submit comments in rule making - advertised in the Federal register on Monday 11th 2007.-"proposed Rules"
It is evident that Vincent is not your average whistleblower - he is deeply committed to engineering excellence which he sees as a proud Boeing and American heritage, which he is proud to be part of.
He is concerned however that in this big stakes game some of those values / standards are being neglected , ignored, and bypassed .
His major concern is that whilst "composite structures have far superior fatigue and corrosion resistance" to aluminium structures whose performance is well understood, proven in use and whose performance can be predicted with accuracy - and he is concerned that the analysis of composites is complicated because of this.
Consequently he feels that proceeding with "an unproven composite ... without throughly testing a prototype"" he admits significantly shortens development but is grossly inconsistent the the companies previous policies.
At times he is evangelical about company policy.. "One of my purposes in sending this disclosure to you is to solicit your help in helping Boeing to recover its former soul"... he is not short on technical analysis.
We wait to finf out what the Boeing Managment have to say on Tuesday.
WSJ reports ..."From where we stand, it's still chaos," says an executive at one major supplier.
UPDATE MONDAY 1.00 EST
Aviation Magazine has lots more details of problems arising.
Behind Boeing's 787 delays: Problems at one of the smallest suppliers in Dreamliner program causing ripple effect...
"The cost of delays has Boeing's suppliers worried about "unk-unks," aerospace jargon for "unknown unknowns." They fret that the supply-chain problems will continue, that unexpected problems will arise during flight tests, and that Boeing's schedule will slip beyond the initial six-month delay."
" Advanced Integration Technology, has fallen short supplying Vought Aircraft Industries, itself the Dreamliner's most troubled supplier. Dallas-based Vought has struggled to fabricate its fuselage sections to Boeing's standards, according to several Boeing suppliers contacted by the Tribune.
Because AIT plays a key role in connecting virtually the entire length of the 787's fuselage, the company's troubles are having a ripple effect, the suppliers say."
"In both capacities, say suppliers that have worked with Plano, Texas-based AIT, the company is struggling to fulfill its responsibilities to Vought.
Reaching out for help
The problems with AIT, which has only about $500 million in annual sales, first became obvious outside of Vought in early 2006, when machine shops in the Puget Sound area of Washington began receiving frantic calls from AIT. The company's plant in Canada had tried to fabricate shape rings, giant hollow cylinders of carbon steel used to maintain the circular shape of the fuselage during assembly.
But AIT's Canadian machine shop could not keep the rings round......
What's the idea? - Boeing, Boeing, Gone from a flyer
"The supplier problems ranged from language barriers to snafus that erupted when suppliers themselves outsourced chunks of work. The first Dreamliner to show up at Boeing’s factory was missing tens of thousands of part….”
Stewardess, another beer please? "
The Boeing 787 Media briefing on Tuesday is here.
Further Update Luchtaz Aviation
Boeing is targeting its first test flight around the end of March next year, compared with its original plan of August this year, as a result of problems getting the first 787 assembled.
Beyond that, analysts anticipate problems.
"We also believe that the program is still facing industrial disarray and that Boeing is struggling to implement the ramp up necessary for 109 deliveries before the end of 2009," said JP Morgan's Nadol.
One commentator makes an interesting point....
What if one of the B787 suppliers collapses (Vought?)?
That may delay the B787 by 2-3 years, if all other suppliers decide to stay in the game.
If I were company X supplying company Z who is encountering delays on deliveries because of company W, I would be pissed-off at W but also at Z because they decided to hire W.
I can imagine that Alenia and the Japanese are pissed off, Alenia said that they paused shipments and are slowing down on the chain as they get paid on a per shipment basis.