Having had the opportunity to allow yesterday's update to stew for 24 hours I wanted to throw my $.02 in the mix.
Richard Aboulafia described the call yesterday as, "Both reassuring and underwhelming," signaling the reaffirmation of Boeing's confidence in its own production plan, while falling short in providing the specifics to spread its own confidence to a jittery market and a skeptical media.
The point of confidence that I believe can be derived from the update is the way in which Shanahan demonstrated his oversight of the inherited program he now captains. At every turn, he emphasized his role in ensuring the easy flow of communication and decision-making across the entire program. Whether it was his three to four hour daily meetings with managers yards from the assembly floor or his upcoming afternoon conference call with Japanese suppliers, this is a manager who has quickly found his footing and taken the reins. Whether this stands in genuine contrast to the way that Mike Bair operated is not fully known. In previous update calls, Bair never had to justify his level of engagement in the process, yet, Shanahan needed to establish this in contrast to the perception that the level of oversight just simply hadn't been sufficient to run the program.
One item that was raised at the conclusion of the call was a question regarding metrics for measuring program status. Carson suggested that the arrival of ZA007 for final assembly in Everett is a milestone to watch for. Though additional specific Boeing metrics aren't available for evaluating the health of this program, I believe there are two additional indications of how the program is progressing:
1. How long does it take ZA002 to go through final assembly in Everett?
2. When do parts for ZA007 arrive in Charleston and how fast is the center fuselage assembled and delivered to Everett?
The first metric provides a good indication as to the application of the lessons learned from Dreamliner One. This will be Boeing's first opportunity to apply its in sequence assembly processes on a flying 787 airframe.
The second demonstrates the speed at which Global Aeronautica can assemble and deliver sections of a production model airframe. Charleston needs to show it can complete work fast enough with adequately utilized manpower to accommodate high delivery rates of full production airframes.
Stay tuned, this one's getting interesting.