ROME -- On our visit Wednesday in Grottaglie, Italy, we had a chance to discuss the horiztontal stabilizer inspections with Boeing and Alenia, who fabricates the 787's tail feathers in Foggia, Italy. The complete responses of Daniele Romiti, Alenia Aeronautica chief operating officer and Bob Noble, Boeing vice president, 787 supplier management are below.
I'm wrapping up my visit here in Italy this week, heading back to the States on Sunday, and after some technical difficulties that resulted in a corrupted audio file, I found a workaround that allowed me to transcribe the responses to questions regarding the horizontal stabilizer quality issue. Apologies for the belated post.
Q: With all the issues cropping up in the supply chain from Italy, is Alenia its weakest link?
Q: How was the issue first discovered? Over the course of the 25 shipsets that made it to Everett, just being found at that point in the quality system, what has been done to make sure this doesn't happen in the future? And what's being done to make sure this doesn't happen in the future?
Q: Can you tell us what the quality control procedures are within Alenia, how it works with Boeing, how it works at Seattle?
Daniele Romiti, chief operating officer, Alenia Aeronautica:
We talk about this, let me call it a manufacturing problem, which is fixed and we used to fixed this with Boeing, as we work as a single team on these subjects, so I think it's quite normal, I would say even though, I was not happy it even happened, we should say it's normal in a manufacturing process and is not related even to those new technologies, it was during assembly of spacements, secondary spacements, on the main spar. So, we have fixed it together with Boeing and there is activity ongoing to just complete our repairs on the aircraft.
Bob Noble, vice president, 787 supplier management, Boeing:
The defect was found in Everett during a routine inspection. I don't believe we have inspected every horizontal yet, however, this defect is not on every unit. We're still working our way through, which units that have the defect and which ones don't. I wouldn't characterize it...Alenia is not the weakest link in the 787 supply chain.
It is a complicated supply chain, Alenia, as you're going to see, builds a very complicated part of the airplane. Unfortunately you won't see the horizontal here (in Grottaglie), I know that's of current interest, but what you're going to see is this is a very complicated manufacturing process, and unfortunately, periodically, things happen, that's why we perform so many inspections. You asked about the inspection processes, Alenia has an approved quality system, that has inspections for defects, it as a part of that system, Boeing, also provides inspection of the units before they leave Italy. And of course, we also inspect the unit when we received it in Everett, and we inspect it periodically during the manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, every once in a while, something of this complexity will have an escape, they're very unfortunate when they happen. This is not at all related to the material system, it is not related to the quality system, it is just one of those things that happens during a manufacturing process. We know what it is, it won't happen again. Absolutely, positively certain we won't have that same defect again. We have put counter measures in place to assure ourselves of that.
UPDATE: I also went back and listened to additional recordings done separately from the main briefings. I asked Bob Noble a question about the processes that are triggered by such a workmanship issue. Here was his reply:
So what happens when you have something like that you look at all similar things, in fact, we'll look at all similar things throughout the world. So the shim is in a join, so this will cause us to go back and look at all of our joins and make sure the similar thing can't happen anywhere else. And we don't see any evidence of it, this is a unique workmanship issue.