Speaking out on aerospace manufacturing

November 9, 2007

By:

It"s refreshing to hear someone speak frankly about a subject without business jargon or feel-good mumbo jumbo sprinkled throughout the conversation. They are speaking off-the-cuff and obviously have enough confidence in themselves or their support structure to not think twice about being candid.


I came across a Seattle Times story quoting Mike Bair, Boeing"s former chief of the 787 Dreamliner program, and was struck about his
willingness to discuss problems with the Dreamliner manufacturing approach. More interesting, these words were
shared only two weeks after he was moved from the Dreamliner program to the position of head of business strategy and marketingthe likely result of Boeing"s announcement that delivery of the first Dreamliner would be delayed by six months.



Bair, talking before a crowd of Snohomish County power brokers, said Boeing likely would scrap the manufacturing
approach of having global suppliers design and manufacture sections of the composite-plastic Dreamliner. Apparently,
some of the Tier 1 and 2 companies that won Boeing contracts immediately subcontracted out the engineering
requirements and failed to deliver quality components and sections. Bair said that some of the manufacturing partners have performed so poorly that they won"t be asked to participate in future programs.



As a result of these problems, Boeing has had to take up a lot of the manufacturing slack.



That whole production system is built for 1,200 pieces & Everything about it was designed for 1,200 parts. We threw
30,000 at it, he was quoted as saying.



As a result of these issues, the relaunch of the 737 narrow-body jet will follow a model whereby the larger airplace
sections will be built close to final assembly. Also, Boeing may be more aggressive in taking over design chores and then having manufacturing partners follow those prints.



The other big news, particularly for Seattle-area residents, is that this new manufacturing approach for the 737 isn"t guaranteed to occur at a Washington location. Boeing will make a decision as to where this manufacturing
effort makes economic sense.



The impact of such a huge manufacturing program would be incredible for any region"s economy. Additionally, the impact likely would be long-lived.



Boeing estimates that the world will need 28,600 new airplanes from 2007 to 2026 to accommodate the increase in
global travelers. Sixty-two percent of those airplanes are expected to be single-aisle jets.



Finally, a corporate executive who"s not afraid to discuss a problem, rather than dancing around it by calling it an opportunity. It may be semantics. It may not mean anything now that the company is already looking ahead to the

737 project. It may be the direct talk in which more executives should be willing to engage.



FMA Communications Inc.

Dan Davis

Editor in Chief
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107
Phone: 815-227-8281
comments powered by Disqus