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Supplier problems lead to more frustrations for the Dreamliner program

Boeing is still having troubles with its famed 787 Dreamliner. The company announced yesterday that it is delaying the first flight of its Dreamliner by three months.

Boeing's next-generation airliner, which makes use of advanced, lightweight materials and extremely efficient engines, is the fastest selling aircraft in Boeing history with the company securing 817 orders from 53 different customers.

The bulk of the delays are blamed on suppliers who continue to work behind schedule stalling the production of the initial Dreamliner prototype according to the Wall Street Journal. Boeing decided to outsource the production of many critical Dreamliner components to companies scattered across the globe in an effort to reduce costs and promote foreign sales.

The decision is now coming back to sting Boeing as a lack of synergy between suppliers is the root cause for the program delays. According to sources close to the Dreamliner program, wiring and cockpit instrumentation hasn't even been installed into the first Dreamliner being readied for flight testing.

Boeing was more diplomatic when describing the supplier issues, "The fundamental design and technologies of the 787 remain sound," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO and president Scott Carson. "However, we continue to be challenged by start-up issues in our factory and in our extended global supply-chain."

Since aircraft engineers need at least two to three months of electrical testing before giving the go ahead to perform test flights, the Dreamliner will not take off until the end of the second quarter according to Boeing. Deliveries of the first production Dreamliner aircraft were also pushed back from late 2008 to early 2009.

"We have brought together the right skills and leadership from around the company to ensure a successful start-up of our global production system," added Dreamliner Vice President and General Manager Pat Shanahan. "We have put the people, structure and processes in place to execute our plan and we will take additional steps to strengthen our team if needed. We have made significant progress in reducing parts shortages, improving fastener availability and achieving static and systems test milestones. We are focused on getting the 787 flying, certified and delivered to our customers."

"This airplane is going to be the basis of every airplane Boeing builds in the future, so it needs to be right," said International Lease Finance Corp. CEO John Plueger. Plueger's leasing company ordered 74 Dreamliners from Boeing making it the single largest customer.

Boeing announced delays to the Dreamliner program in early October 2007 after initially denying the reports. Boeing's revised target for the first flight of the aircraft was changed to Q1 2008 and the first deliveries were changed to November 2008 at the earliest.

The Dreamliner was recently in the news over a damning report from Wired Magazine which claimed that the Dreamliner was vulnerable to attacks from passengers using the wired networking capabilities of the plane. A Boeing engineer and a spokeswoman for the company were quick to dismiss the report.



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RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By timmiser on 1/17/2008 6:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
There has been a lot of chess playing amongst Boeing and Airbus in the last 13 years. If Boeing had started building the 787 10 years ago, Airbus would have never started the A380.

When Airbus was tossing around the idea of building a super jumbo, Boeing was doing everything they could to get Airbus to commit to the A380. They announced the Boeing Sonic Cruiser for the sole purpose of getting Airbus to pull the trigger on the A380. Once the Sonic Cruiser was announced, that pursuaded Airbus to bite on the A380 because they thought Boeing would be spending the next 10-15 years locked in sonic cruiser production which would allow Airbus to lock themselves into the A380 project for the next two decades.

Once Airbus became committed to the A380, Boeing yanked the Sonic Cruiser off the table. Yes, it was a bluff all along as they never intended to build this aircraft but Airbus was too deep into the A380 to back out. This is what Boeing needed to start on the 787 and catch Airbus with their proverbial pants down.

You see, Boeing knew full well what the A380 would do to Airbus from their experience developing and building the 747. They knew Airbus would become crippled for at least 10 years and unable to develope any new airplanes and they also knew that there was (and still is) a very good chance that Airbus wouldn't survive the endeavor.

Today's economics have changed drastically into Boeing's favor. With fuel prices so high now, the operating/fuel cost per seat is the single most important factor that airlines are looking for in a new airplane which is exactly what the 787 is designed for. The A380 cost per seat has increased throughout development and could end up being the great white elephant. That is why the 787 has sold more planes than any jet in history prior to first flight and there is nothing Airbus can do about it for years to come. Sure they can stretch an existing model but they don't have the capitol or resources to start new development of a 787 competitor from the ground up.


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By CubicleDilbert on 1/17/2008 7:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately what you say does not reflect reality. The supersonic was crap, and cancelled by all airlines immediately. Concordes were cheap on second hand markets, nobody bothered to rent them. Besides, the development of a new larger airplane takes a very long time and the A380 project was started about 18 years ago.

And in general opinion Airbus has done very well, the jet is superb in design and cost savings. Very similar to the 747 which was a tremendous success. The only thing that crippled Airbus was that French and German engineers were to proud to admit that they might have a little problem. CATIA Version 4.8 in Germany and 5.0 in France were compatible... almost... like an XP program under Vista. Almost, but not really.

I assume, that Boeing is facing the very same problems with their suppliers. Come on, the rivets do not really fit, only very close? Well, somewhere some engineer calculated in centimeters instead of inches, I guess....

But in the end it seems that Airbus is completely sold out for the next few years, as is Boeing! Boeing got cought with their pants down when the A380 got very solid orders (4 more today). And Airbus got a cold shower when they saw the success of the 787. So we get 4 new airplanes and a little bit of innovation after all these years.

I think that is a good sign that both companies stay competitive and financially healthy. No airline wants the old monopolists back with their extortion list prices.


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By Ringold on 1/17/2008 8:58:21 PM , Rating: 1
You seem to know a lot about the industry, and yet somewhat conflate "new" with better, or new with "progress" somehow, as if Boeing did absolutely nothing for decades.

My god, Cessna hasn't done anything in half a century by that standard. If I showed you, for just 1-2 seconds, an image of a 172 from the 50s, 70s, 90s and today you'd be hard pressed to see any immediate changes. Despite that, however, they're all very different. I got my private license in a 172 in 2002 or 2003; I couldn't even fly a brand-new glass-panel 172 made today without some serious training. Huge changes, same model.

As for the 787, A380.. all these planes aren't offering ground-shattering improvements over the best models on the market today. You can again see this in the market for smaller aircraft; latest generation planes representing single-percentage point improvements in various performance figures. There is only so much you can do. Most the changes today occur in the cockpit, and you don't need new models for that.

quote:
I think that is a good sign that both companies stay competitive and financially healthy.


That begins to get back to your original issue; why does Boeing not get bashed to the same degree Airbus does? Because Boeing will take its licks fair and square in the open market; it'll lay off jobs, or cause it's suppliers to shed jobs, as the market demands. It riles American's every time Airbus hits a problem; we know they won't feel the full force of their failure, they wont shed or move jobs the way they should because they'll be protected by its mommy governments and unions. It riles American's every time Airbus had a success; where Boeing delivers product for every dollar it gets in revenue, and thus earns it, Airbus gets breaks handed to them on a golden platter.

Essentially, the very existance of Airbus, a government sponsored entity, strikes at the core of a lot of peoples beliefs, and that it competes against Boeing just makes it worse.

If Airbus cut the EU loose and operated like any other firm that built itself up the hard way, I'm sure that attitude would change overtime. Adding those American facilities you noted would help too. Until then, Airbus is a socialist monstrosity, I don't give a damn how good their planes are. Throw enough of mommies money at something and sure it'll be decent.


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By ikkeman on 1/17/2008 9:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
c'mon ringold, I think you know as well as I that there are 2 cases running in the WTO right now. both companies enjoyed government support. lets wait for their verdict on who got what illegally...

On the other hand, you're absolutely right that airbus was started as an socialist move to protect high quality jobs in the EU, and some countries (ie france) still use it as such. that doesn't make it a monstrosity though...

Buy american anyone?

Airbus has developed and is developing the a380 and a350 with no other government support that boeing recieves.


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By Amiga500 on 1/18/2008 7:00:33 AM , Rating: 3
As for the 787, A380.. all these planes aren't offering ground-shattering improvements over the best models on the market today. You can again see this in the market for smaller aircraft; latest generation planes representing single-percentage point improvements in various performance figures.

Sorry, but thats not entirely right.

The magic number for build or don't build a new design is around 20% improvement in Direct Operating Costs (DOC).

The 380 and 787/350 are easily double figure performance improvements relative to the relevant older models they will replace.

While the man on the street cannot see much improvement, the 380 is a big step over the 747. The 787/350 are massive improvements over the 330/767, in pretty much every area of the design, aerodynamics, weight, engines, avionics etc etc.

Essentially, the very existance of Airbus, a government sponsored entity, strikes at the core of a lot of peoples beliefs, and that it competes against Boeing just makes it worse.

As for this little gem - how do you think Boeing developed their composite knowledge?

Wouldn't be anything to do with the military contracts (handed out by the US govt) would it?

Both sides receive massive payouts from their respective governments, determining who gets most is more difficult.


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By timmiser on 1/21/2008 1:25:42 AM , Rating: 2
I was referring to the Sonic Cruiser, not the SST.


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By ikkeman on 1/17/2008 8:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You see, Boeing knew full well what the A380 would do to Airbus from their experience developing and building the 747.


boeing designed/built the 747 while they were deeply involved in the SST (US concorde), the 737 and the... shuttle? i think.
Read joe sutters book. the 747 was always understaffed and still the first product rolled out of the (newly build factory) within 5 years (even less I think?)

If you have sources to back up your claim, please post them


RE: Nice Bashing Airbus?
By timmiser on 1/21/2008 1:24:40 AM , Rating: 2
Who is talking about the SST? I am talking about the Sonic Cruiser.


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