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Commentary: Boeing Well Served By Global Aeronautica Deal
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The announcement of the 50% acquisition of Global Aeronautica in Charleston is a powerful step forward in regaining oversight and management of key sections of the 787 supply chain.

By taking the reins at Global Aeronautica along side Alenia, Boeing is now significantly better positioned to finish assembly of the remaining test aircraft center fuselages and look ahead to a robust production ramp up. Assumption of control of the Global Aeronautica facility solves several key problems that had plagued the Charleston facility.

First, ensuring that communication is maintained with respect to the status of airframe assembly will enable production schedules to be optimized to best utilize resources across the global supply chain.

Second, the sharing of control at Global Aeronautica allows for direct line-of-sight management of the supply chain. Part shortages can be best managed and solved by ensuring that parts are ordered to the appropriate level of need and shared across the whole of the supply chain.

Third, as Boeing establishes a permanent presence in Charleston, the proximity to Vought, who will still fabricate and assembly aft Sections 47 and 48 next door to Global Aeronautica, permits for additional oversight, guidance and consultation as the supply chain matures.

Lastly, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chairman, Scott Carson was asked by Seattle Times reporter Dominic Gates back in October what he, "might have done differently" in Charleston. Carson replied, "I think, if there's a lesson learned, it might be you'd start earlier and you'd do a little more training, perhaps, with our people there, helping them learn the production process."

By assuming a 50% stake in Global Aeronautica, the issues of aerospace manufacturing expertise and training amongst the staff can be directly addressed.

Friday's announcement enables Boeing to engage more fully on a host of issues that have challenged the 787 program in Charleston.

The importance of Global Aeronautica in the 787 supply chain can not be understated. It was the only location in the global network of suppliers that was responsible for the integration of such significant structural portions of the aircraft. As an integrator of major structural components from Italy and Japan, the role of the facility mirrored, on a smaller scale, the exact work that takes place in Everett for 787 final assembly.

In closing, the announcement has potentially far reaching consequences that go well beyond the 787 Dreamliner program.

This is the first expansion of Boeing’s manufacturing infrastructure in over a decade. Scaling back infrastructure has long been a hallmark of the Aerospace giant. Halting of commercial assembly in Long Beach and the sale of Wichita to form Spirit Aerosystems has demonstrated a propensity for consolidation rather than expansion. Rightly, Boeing has sought to do more with less. The 50% acquisition announcement marks a first expansion of Boeing’s manufacturing capability since the merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. In addition, with the pending future expansion of the Northrop Grumman/EADS facility in Mobile, AL to build KC-45A and A330-200F, Boeing has turned lemons into lemonade by providing a foot hold in the growing southern aerospace base.

Unequivocally, this is a net positive for the 787 program both in the short and long term. Boeing identified a tactical problem and found a strategic solution to address it. Boeing is now able to directly tackle issues of supply chain management and integration challenges, rather than the insufficient over-the-shoulder oversight that, according to sources in Charleston, was a hallmark of the previous year.

The Boeing and the 787 Dreamliner program are well served by this decision.

Image Credit Brad Nettles/The Charleston Post and Courier

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Posted Mon, Mar 31 2008 12:30 PM by FlightBlogger - Aviation News, Commentary and Analysis | Report Abuse