Boeing failed to learn from Airbus’s lessons

I spied this video of the flamboyant Richard Quest explaining to CNN viewers at the time of the Boeing 787 update call this week.

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Quest says Boeing has failed to learn the lessons from Airbus with its A380 and he thinks that the 787 will be just as delayed.

The reasons why the aircraft is having so many problems, he explains, is for two reasons:

1. Technology – “A vast amount of the fuselage and the wings are made of carbon fibre which is the first time such a plane has been made in this way.”

2. The way Boeing is constructing the aircraft – Boeing usually builds its aircraft at its Everett facility in Seattle but it decided to “build different parts in separate parts of the world. But the reality is that they can’t do it, they don’t know how to do it.”

Here’s a link to CNN but you’ll have to search manually (because there isn’t a specific code for each item) for “Problems plague Dreamliner” found within the US section.

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5 Responses to Boeing failed to learn from Airbus’s lessons

  1. John Price 12 April, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    The “Airbus system” of building aircraft sections in separate locations and ferrying them to final assembly complete with systems installed grew out of the partner companies’ need in the early days to retain all the skills needed to build an aircraft – the never expected the A300 to go very far …
    What Boeing has been trying to do with the 787 is to turn their own system inside out – usually they fitted the systems into “bare” sections delivered from elsewhere (the “traditional” way). This meant losing (or transferring) skills from Seattle final assembly to outsiders and newcomers who didn’t necessarily have those skills.
    I have a sneaking feeling that “management” in Chicago didn’t realise what they were really doing when they decided to go to a system similar to that which Airbus had built up over many years. And to do that with the new techniques needed for all-composite construction is clearly “a bridge too far” …

  2. Ahmad Dan-Hamidu 15 April, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    Great analysis Mr. Quest! It’s really unlike Boeing (and unfortunate too) that they didn’t do their homework…especially the blokes at Chicago. The question now is “will they learn it” now that the error is clear? I know its not too late…or is it?

  3. Bucky 22 April, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Throughout the aerospace industry, sourcing management have embraced the idea of outsourcing in order to reduce costs. Now, it is coming to light that transportation costs, costs of poor quality and the general lack of control created by being completely decentralized may very well more than make up for any savings in cost of labor. Add to that the perception by customers that there are problems and the case for outsourcing becomes much less convincing.

  4. Keith Sketchley 7 September, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    The question for Boeing shareholders is whether or not McNerney properly understands the cause of Boeing’s outsourcing failure.

    It lies in shared values – many companies oursource/partner/etc. successfully all the time, as Boeing has long done on engines, avionics, pumps etc. Going back to the days of Hal Korry or earlier, which is waay back in Boeing history.

    But only the best succeeed. Boeing has failed, and will not succeed unless they understand the root cause. (I have not yet read McNerney’s memo to employees. In the past, while far above most CEOs, he has not understood.)

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