Odds and Ends: A boost for the A330? Problems continue at Boeing Charleston

A boost for the A330? Aviation Week reports Airbus is offering China an A330 completion center in return for an order for 200 A330s.  At the current production rate of 10/mo over the Airbus production year of 11 months, this is nearly two more years on to the current 27 month backlog.

Problems continue at Boeing Charleston: The Seattle Times has a long piece about the continue problems at Boeing Charleston, the 787 plant there.

40 Comments on “Odds and Ends: A boost for the A330? Problems continue at Boeing Charleston

  1. Airbus attempting to bribe China? Is this a hedge against China refusing to buy European products when the EU again attempts global environmental domination?

    • You know, KC, this is one of your more BS-type responses yet. Is there nothing about Airbus at all you don’t dislike?

      • Actually, Scott I thought KC135 was saying that in jest. Even if he was serious how do his comments differ from the Boeing carping and IMHO Airbus walks on water comments of Keesje and Uwe? I don’t think Keesje believes Boeing can tie their shoes correctly. Is there is a double standard going here?

        • Hi Jack during the past 10 yrs I now and then stated the 787 planning was too ambitious, the 747-8I based case based on shaky assumptions and the 737 probably not up to par after 2015. While stating the A330 shouldn’t be ignored and re-engined, as well as the E-jets, the A380 had a niche of its own and maybe A or B should think about a mini VLA. Often years before the pack, do a Google. I think I have been proved on many developments, but not all. Some opinions proved correct predictions, even if some do not like them.

          Back on topic, about the A330, there were plans for Alabama, but apparently that fell through after the KC767 victory. http://www.wsfa.com/story/7621443/airbus-a330-freighters-to-be-assembled-at-mobile-alabama-facility

        • “Some opinions proved correct predictions, even if some do not like them.”

          Fair point keesje, although the A330neo has yet to receive board approval. What if they not go ahead with it?

          And I’m not yet convinced if your A322neo concept will ever see daylight.

  2. As for Charleston, Boeing created their own problems when they let go the contract workers last year. They need to reverse that decision and get Charleston back on track.

  3. Uiui, already now the 320 line in China is less productive than those in Europe. Plus: opening that line has not lead to full market dominance in China. I am not sure if this line would not create a lot more trouble than revenues, especially considering that a 330 Regional would currently be the only available offer of regional airplanes of that size anyway.
    At least, now we know already how the COMAC 929 will look like.

  4. Many many years ago- before the MDC buyout of Boeing, with my sometimes involvement with the ‘ shop floor ‘ persons on 767 and 777 programs, I seem to recall that falsifying’ tags’ such as rework, job completion, measurement, rigging, etc ad naseaum was considered a serious offense and at the least could get one a few days off, in addition to a verbal ream job, a write up, a CORRECTIVE ACTION memo ( shape up or ship out by xxx ). And sometimes a crew meeting. For the suit and tie crowd, the result could be similar but a little more private. Of course if a suit screwed up and cost the company 100K or less, transfer or dismissal was an option. Over a 100K, sometimes a chance at later ( 2 years or so ) a promotion.( had to do with name recognition while forgetting why name was familiar, and the mess was covered up by the next level who dared not admit they approved or let it happen. See also then Peter Principle re job classifications and promotions.

    Considering the ongoing late 7 games and mis management of labor and facilities and decisions, the peter principle still seems to be in ascendency, With BA now being a poster child for objective proof.

    Illigitimi non carborundum !!

  5. Seems like Air India may not be altogether happy with their 787s so far – they’re setting up a committee to review performance so far (according to ATW). On the other hand they do seem to have milked the situation in the past.

    • This has got to be a part of their management strategy. Buy an aircraft, complain about performance, delay obtaining funding while a/c sit at the plant, and demand repayment for the delay in receiving the aircraft. Finally, use the delay payments to pay for the purchase.

  6. The A330 seems to be a big in the promotion arena for Airbus. It is interesting that the lead up to Singpore is more focused on getting A330 news into the press over the A350. Proposal of the completion center, the NEO, the light weight. Assume the discussion is driven by a desire for corporate profitability, and the A330 has the potential of offering the biggset bang for thebuck. Kill the A350-800 and promote the A330 alternatives. I hope there will be some discussion about the A350-900 performance during flight testing. The thing has been flying for quite some time and there is little mention of performance. No real issues during the test program but nothing. But, the A330 is being studied to offer a new config. Come on Airbus feed the market with something about your new program!!

      • What does- “we need very long flights to stabilise [the aircraft movements].” mean? Fuel performance is not as good on long flights? What is very long? >8 hours, >10 hours, >11 hours, >15 hours? I won’t even go to the “pretty satisfied” because I respect Scott’s comments to KC

        • Fair enough, but the answers to these questions aren’t in the public domain (yet). Just like Boeing didn’t release specifics regarding fuel consumption within the first year of 787 flight tests.
          In any case, if you do want more details because “pretty satisfied” is too vague for you, and you want to stop speculating, you could ask the Airbus PR department for an official statement on A350 test results so far.

        • The Boeing performance seemed to get to the market through unconfirmed sources, so there was some noise on performance. That blog on FLightglobal seemed to have a bit from time to time. Nothing like that has surfaced about the A350 program. I was hoping there might be someone who did that same level of research on the Airbus side. You seem to be pretty updated on things Airbus, why not add to your competnecies and provide flight test updates and get past the company PR spin?

  7. The A330 seems a very sub optimal short haul aircraft to me. Under 4 hours its just carrying around tonnes of metal. You can’t Regional that away. I wonder if a Chinese A330 line will help or frustrate Chinese ambitions to build their own twin aisle..

    • The Airbus goal- Fustrate China and make it hard for them to design their own with a clear goal of profitability. Honestly, it makes sense if you believe the market will be there to support the investment. From a long term product strategy this is terrible because it creates confusion inhouse.

    • There is severe ATC congestion especially in the Beijing area. This is largely the fault of the military who reserve 80% of the available airspace for themselves and close the other 20% at whim. Unless and until the military show more flexibility, the only way to meet growing demand for air travel is to upgauge your aircraft.

        • Yes, that’s a very good analysis. The September 24, 2012 edition of AW&ST also had a comprehensive analysis on why the A330-300 is set to become the wide-body trunkliner in China for the next decade, at least.

  8. An A330 complition center in China would be a very smart move requiring minimal investment.
    Ferrying a green frame would even be cheaper than sending fully furnished one 😉

    • OTOH – Boeing is open about their dealings with the Pols- for example

      SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing Co. lobbyists are throwing a “thank you” party for lawmakers who helped provide the company with billions in tax breaks.

      An invitation obtained by The Associated Press shows Boeing executives will host a reception for lawmakers on Tuesday evening. The event will take place at a house across the street from the Capitol campus and is slated to thank lawmakers for their efforts on the 777X airplane talks.

      Last year, lawmakers approved an extension of Boeing tax breaks in a deal worth an estimated $8.7 billion. The Legislature swiftly approved the idea in a special session, which put pressure on union workers to accept a contract that transitioned them away from pension plans.

      Boeing has said the tax breaks and the worker concessions were enough to secure the 777X production for Washington state and the thousands of jobs that come with it.

      Lets see-cost benefit ratio- no doubt the reception will cost maybe 20 to 30 K ( its a small house after all ) . And the return is 8 plus Billion.

      And two tickets to next weeks production fiasco . . .

      will they hand out free jars of KY jelly to the Pols and pumice cream to the taxpayers ?

  9. On the Charleston front, I guess the union should not take it personally.

    Nope, we don’t need them stinking dead weight non union workers, can em and we will hire em back in 3 months and we don’t need em anyway, bunch of slackers.

    So, what is there about a modern corporation that has anything to do with business decisions and real management? I would say its not only zero, its gone to negative numbers.

    When does the so called ramifications occur like they are suppose to for those responsible?

    And the band played on.

  10. How many years does Mcnerney receive to get his arms around the 787 mess? He became the CEO in 2005. He seems like a nice enough fellow but is in way over his head in my humble opinion. How can someone get away with a program literally billions of $ over budget? No wonder Welch chose Immelt over Mcnerney for the CEO spot at GE. The stock could get a nice bounce when he retires.

    It is time that the company move forward with a dynamic, effective leader like Muillenburg.

  11. 200 more A330s takes Airbus through to EIS of an A330NEO using current tech engines. I think it makes waiting for new tech, ie GTF or RR3029, a realistic possibility. If Airbus has a GTF or RR3029 powered A330 in 2020/2021 the B787 won´t be competitive on medium and short haul. I don´t know how many more long haul aircraft are needed in this size range, but not too many, I wouldn´t think, so Boeing could be forced to re-engine in order to compete on shorter routes, before thwe B787 is even paid for!

    • I would expect them to also, but it will put back ROI on an aircraft which won´t even be paid for, ouch!

    at the end of Seattle Times
    “In addition, said the Everett systems engineer, the fundamental decision to build the 787 in complete sections in far-flung locations has resulted in unintended complications.

    For example, all the doors on the fuselage sections that arrive from Charleston have to be re-rigged in Everett.

    That means the doors — finely tuned marvels of engineering designed to withstand high pressure in flight — must be mechanically re-adjusted to ensure a snug fit and smooth operation. It’s a job that takes two skilled mechanics a day or more.

    Those adjustments, first made in Charleston, have to be re-done in Everett because of small changes in the shape of the plastic fuselage sections in the assembly process.

    The sections flex slightly in transit from South Carolina to Everett, flex differently when fitted together with other sections, and flex along different lines again when the landing gear is installed and the plane’s weight rests on the gear for the first time.

    The Everett systems engineer said the 787 program is a long way from running smoothly: “Every airplane is a struggle.”

    Is any LEEHAM reader convinced that filament winding is the best technology for manufacturing planes?
    AIRBUS has a subsidary “COMPOSITES D AQUITAINE” that has been using filament winding for more than 20 years.
    Nevertheless, they chose the traditional riveting method for the 350 composite skin panels.
    Many more rivets, but much less problems obviously….
    And much easier to repair….

    • RE RIVETING in composite. Rivets get a lot of their strength and fatigue resistance in aluminum/steel parts due to compression loading between head and bucktail. And tension loading of the hole around the rivet. generally, composites are superior in tension, and less so in compression ( consider a simple joint of two relatively thin parts/ overlapped sheets held together by rivets. ( This is the reason that most composite ( sheets) or stringer ENDS, or parts in tension or compression are put together using ‘ fish ‘ plates ( typically titanium ) which spread the load thru multiple load paths. ( think ti ‘ clips’ on the end of wing stringers in 7 8 7 where they join the plus chord )

      Factoid . the fatigue life of Aluminum or steel ( alloy) parts joined together by bolts ( non expanding diameters ) can be significantly increased/improved by pre expanding the holes before filling with a slightly ( a few thousandths ) larger bolt. This due to the tension- compression loading of the surrounding area in a manner which is NOT available in composite structure. the technique is called cold-working.

      and aluminum alloy rivets in composite have an corossion problem- think carbon aluminum ( batteries ) in the presence of moisture. Yes, A-286 and certain other alloys can be used, including titianium. but with weight and certain installation penalties. Filiment technology ( typically tape winding ) has been around for decades ( think rocket motor cases since the 50’s-60’s ) . tape laying of panels and parts have been around for nearly as long.

      yes panels can be joined with rivets, but I suspect there is some sort of intermediate ‘ metal ” plates involved.

      BA uses Ti frames which as far as I know are BOLTED thru the composite body skins. And special fasteners are used for other joints rather than rivets ..

      • Yet A350 has a higher percentage of composite by weight than 787, and lower proportion of aluminum, titanium, and steel, so metallic interfaces could hardly be giving it a weight penalty could they?

        • You missed my point STANDARD RIVETS DO NOT WORK IN COMPOSITES .

          Filiment winding has been used ofor ‘ tubes” such as rocket motors for over 50 years.

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