787’s legacy is already taking shape

We did a piece over at AirInsight noting that the legacy of the Boeing 787 is already taking shape–contributing to the development of the 737, 747-8 and likely the 777. Hop over and take a read.

20 Comments on “787’s legacy is already taking shape

  1. So some of the ‘spin-off’ technology of the B-787 is already working its way into Boeing’s near future projects, like the B-737NE and ‘new’ B-777, whatever that will be. When Boeing finally launches the NSA, it will be an improved B-787 and incorproate even newer technologies.

  2. Speculation … as other programs use some of the 787 technology, BA may change from ” program accounting ” to some other form/method which would allow those programs to ‘ pay for” some of the 787 ‘ development’ costs. Sort of like ‘ internal royalties ‘ This would then cost shift some of the 787 overruns to later programs, and essentially reduce the number of planes required to ‘ break even “. There may also be major tax advantages to a change in accounting… I’d bet the green eyeshade troops might be gathering the power point rangers and tasking them with finding more creative ways of accounting. After all, the business of Boeing is to make money – airplanes are just one means.

    • Some of the analysts have written that margins on the 737 and 777 programs will be depressed in support of 787.

      • Yes that is one avenue for Boeing to compensate an airline for the delays on the 787, by offering other models with a larger discount than what would normally be expected sans delay.

  3. The most enduring legacy of the 787 might be to have prevented Boeing from seizing the opportunity to offer a New Small Airplane that would have crushed the NEO in it’s cradle.

    It might explain why Boeing was so hesitant to go full NSA rather than betting on the RE instead. I am convinced that most engineers at Boeing would have elected to go for a new design. But as the expenditures on the 787 program were escalating, the top management at Boeing was becoming more reluctant month after month and year after year.

    Eventually they practically had no choice. The financial situation is still sound by any measure, but it could deteriorate fast and the risk was simply too high.

    Then came the watershed of orders for the NEO. I could hear them:

    – We have to do something, quick!

    – Do what?

    – Send your uniform to the cleaner, they will think it’s new!

    • Boeings problem is that there is no “just over the horizon New Small Airplane” opportunity.
      That opportunity opens for both airframers in ~10..15 years and going by history Boeing
      may have to wait for Airbus to break that tech path into a passageway.

      Some things will become clearer during the post EIS maturation of the Dreamliner and the
      A350XWB. Is bleedless the better tradeoff? Does the barrel approach with the “nice” surface
      on the inside perform comparable to the smooth outside panel setup. are the expected levels
      in production numbers achievable. i.e. are all the glorious innovations an actual improvement in performace and produceability or an expensive cul de sac.
      Lots of other weighing will be going on.

      • They are past that horizon now. What I have learned reading the article in the above link is the following, and I quote directly from the article:

        “The plan was to do the 787, follow it up with the 737 replacement and move on to a replacement for the 777”.

        It sounds like a very good plan to me. It’s too bad they hit a roadblock on the 787. Had they proceeded a la 777 on the 787, and without any major delays, they would have taken Airbus by surprise with an NSA, just like they did with the 787 and had them rushing to develop the A350XWB.

        You have to spare no effort to stay ahead of the competition. At least one step ahead. That is what brought Airbus where they are today.

        I think Boeing missed a great opportunity with the NSA. But I understand that things turned out differently than what they had planned for.

        What’s interesting, and don’t start me on that, is why things did not turn out the way they had planned.

  4. Wow! This got to be the best article I have read on the subject. Large and numerous extracts sound awfully familiar to me but I cannot recall having read it entirely before, because I have found a number of new elements that I had never herd of.

    Actually most of the stuff that is revealed there was new to me until very recently when I started to get a few bits and pieces, here and there. Your article must have had quite an impact and has obviously inseminated the Web. And it’s not hard to see why!

    Take the McBoeing thing. It came to me as a revelation only a few weeks ago and I had the impression that I was the last one to learn about it. Now I know where it was coming from.

    I came to Leeham News only recently, after being redirected from Air Insight which I have been reading avidly for a few months now. On both Websites I find a lot of informations and opinions that I otherwise never come across in my beloved Aviation Week.

    • “Inseminated the web”?! We hope this is some “lost-in-translation” thing. This could become awfully ribald in very short order…..

      • Take it as lost-in-translation. English is a second language to me.

        Actually I learned a new word today.

        Ribald: Referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way.

        Naive yes. Sometimes stupid. But rude or irreverent, never!

        You have my word 🙂

    • RE the McBoeing issue. Suggest you pick up or find in a library a copy of ” Turblence” Boeing and the state of American Workers and Managers by Greenberg, Grunberg, Morre, and Sikora.

      It is the analysis and result of about a 10 year span and several surveys of Boeing grunts, managers, and executives. The McBoeing story is covered in a reasonable manner, as is the flavors of the month ” initiatives ” to improve performace, morale, and other issues. partly updated to cover some of the 787 fiasco.

      Boeing is still suffering from the McBoeing issue, as we still have the Jack Welch wannabees- rejects in control and still way to many Mc(DonnelDouglas ) types.

      And as to history of Boeing, There are several books out, and look for facts about the founder of Boeing William E Boeing, and the ex lawyer Bill Allen, who was mostly responsible for enabling boeing to survice the aftermath of WW2. Bill Allen is no doubt spinning in his grave re lack of ethics, quality, morale, and common sense.

      • Thank you very much for the reference. I have now ordered “Turbulence” (Sep 6, 2011 version) on Amazon.

        It might just be the book I was looking for. The new corporate culture and everything else that comes with it.

        Interestingly I just started reading Robert Sterling’s “Legend & Legacy” a few days ago. But this book was published in 1992, while Boeing was still the most admired company in the world. I hope to finish it before the other book arrives.

        On the same subject, this summer I read Guy Norris’s “Boeing 787 Dreamliner”. It was a great disappointment for me. You would think you are still in 1969. This time it was the author who was dreaming…

    • Normand – thank you ! Since you are interested in
      Boeing- I will also suggest another book which is out of print- but available on amazon for a few bucks in paperback form

      Amazon.com: Vision, the story of Boeing;: A saga of the sky and the . . .

      By harold mansfield

      It came out in 1968-69 and the paperback was handed out to many Boeing employees. This during the days of the SST program

      It is as good a history- background of Boeing as one is likely to find. My copy is around somewhere, and it has been years since I read it. But I worked with and for a few of the people mentioned… While there are a few nits of no significance, it does portray a different time and culture. Yes, there were some elements of the culture then that were NOT all roses- but the book was accurate for what was portrayed.

      Can you imagine a current Boeing CEO explaining on a podium set up for a all hands meeting just prior to a major bid evaluation ( in this case the SST) team coming in and explaining that the Manufacturing Director ( Bud Hurst ) for the program had refused to give his ‘ show’ on manufacturing capability to the Board of Directors in preparation for the bid evaluation team simply because he ( manufacturing Director ) did not give a practice run/speech for ANYONE!

      It happened, it is not a myth, I was there !

      Or the then president ( Bill Allen ) explaining that any member of management who said or inferred that Boeing got screwed on a major contract ( Then known as the TFX- F-111 which Boeing lost ) would no longer be an employee. ?

      The mantra at the time was At Boeing there are three things that take priority over all else

      1) Schedule 2) the rest don’t matter !

      • IMHO the McBoeing thing is slightly overvalued.

        The faults assigned to the McDonald “usurpation” of Boeing are the reflections of a systemic change all over the industry
        and beyond. A change in the general US setup. More lawyers,
        more bank(st)ers, more areas of volatile redistribution of resources providing large profits in contrast to actually productive work that has been denigrated to a shadowy hobby ( but is the low, low fundament under the financial markets.).

  5. Normand Hamel :
    What’s interesting, and don’t start me on that, is why things did not turn out the way they had planned.

    Because the Dreamliner was a fully virtual project only slightly nearer to
    reality than the Sonic Cruiser.
    The developement path Boeing visualised did not furnish being realised
    as tangible product.
    As I said: Tech is not there yet. But Boeing was able to do a mass hypnotisation
    of predominantly the lesser airline managements.
    Will be interesting to see of the A350XWB is a virtual complement or the
    condensation of the Dreamliner dream.

    • Yes the Dreamliner was a virtual project. Dreams are also virtual…

      And that’s the heart of the problem. Because virtual sometimes means “out of this world”. Unrealistic. Disconnected from the realities of industrial production.

      The people who devise those plans don’t have to implement them. Because if they did they would realize how misguided or naive they are. And more often than not they are long gone before the consequences manifest themselves.

      That is not specific to Boeing you would say Uwe and I agree.

  6. I am not sure if the McBoing thing is overvalued or not. But if it is so controversial it’s because it looks like an unsolicited reverse take-over.

    What I don’t know is if it was accidental or part of a machiavellian plan (maybe I should write McChiavellian). The Boeing employees must have felt like if they were under siege…

    That being said, I agree with you Uwe when you say that they are the reflections of a systemic change all over the industry. Actually, it was the ONLY explanation I had before I learned about the alleged consequences of the takeover. So the truth was lie somewhere between the two.

    • “So the truth was lie somewhere between the two.”

      Guess so. It is never black and white as simple minds would like to have it.

  7. To what ETOPS level has the 787 actually been certified?
    ( Seems like everybody is keeping mum about it )

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