Spies and industrial spying

By Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton

March 27, 2018, © Leeham News, Bainbridge Island (WA): The unexpected US order to close the Russian Consulate in Seattle this week set off a media frenzy in this city because two reasons cited were the proximity of the consulate to Boeing and two US naval bases, Bremerton and Bangor.

There is a third, smaller one, in Everett, but this wasn’t mentioned.

Bremerton is a major repair-and-overhaul base for ships, ranging from aircraft carriers to submarines to frigates and support ships.

Bangor is home to Trident nuclear missile subs and the spy sub, USS Jimmy Carter.

I live on Bainbridge Island, a stone’s throw to Bangor (ground zero in a North Korean nuclear missile attack?) and a 45-minute drive to Bremerton. It’s 45 minutes from here to Boeing Field via ferry and car.

Boeing, of course, is the principal home to Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The commercially-based P8 Poseidon and the KC-46A tankers are built here.

What’s the interest?

Seattle media went all-out: what’s here the Russians would want to spy on and do we “know” the consulate is filled with spies?

On the second part of the question, outside of law enforcement/intelligence agencies, I suppose few “know” the consulate is filled with spies. But any student of history, spying and Cold Wars “knows” this is the case.

As for what the Russians would be interested in, The Seattle Times’ Dominic Gates pretty well laid this out in a story.

Gates’ story is thorough, but he left out one other important aspect: the production transformation technology that Boeing is going through to build planes more efficiently.

I believe this is as much a target of industrial espionage as the obvious targets of Boeing airplanes and technology that goes into them.

The production transformation of things like Fuselage Upright Automated Build (FUAB, pronounced FAWB despite the acronym) now being used on the 777 Classic in advance of production for the 777X and the advanced automated wing production for the 777X and 737 MAX are important. These, and other, manufacturing techniques, are key to high production rates and cutting costs.

Broader spying concerns

Lest a reader think I’m giving away state secrets here, I’m not. These advanced techniques have been written about by The Seattle Times, other media and LNC before. These have been topics of presentations on earnings calls and conferences. Many companies in the aerospace supply chain use techniques likes these and have talked about them.

Spying for the COMAC C919.

But foreign government interest in these extend well beyond public-domain information. How these are used, the design, the precision, all are details of interest.

US intelligence agencies are well aware of the foreign interest. I was recently at a conference in the Seattle area where the FBI was present—it even had a booth openly displaying the Federal Bureau of Investigation logo and personnel handing out FBI business cards. The organizers had been briefed about spying techniques of foreign governments (in this case, China) and what to look for.

“Is this a joke?”

About seven years ago, I received a phone call from a US intelligence agency asking what I might be able to tell them about China’s interest in commercial aviation and how its government and industries pursued cooperation with US companies. My first reaction when the voice introduced herself and her agency: “Is this a joke?”

She and her partner set an appointment for a personal visit and displayed their credentials.

This was at a time when China was developing the ARJ21 regional jet and was designing the C919 mainline jet. It was not without coincidence the ARJ21 looked like the McDonnell Douglas DC-9/MD-80 or the C919 looks like the Airbus A320. Both companies had production factories in China.

When Airbus announced plans to create an A320 final assembly line in Tianjin, I asked Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, about the dangers of technology transfer and IP theft. Enders assured those of us in the press scrum that Airbus had plenty of IP protection in place.

Within a year, the press reported the Tianjin plant had been subject to a half-dozen cyberattacks, probing for IP information.

Technology transfer

When Boeing was developing the 787 and looking for international partners, China expressed interest. Boeing declined to agree to the level China wanted, based on technology transfer concerns.

Yet China demands technology transfer as a price of doing business there, whether it be aerospace or other industries. The Chinese call this “benefits,” as in what’s the benefit to China for allowing you to do business in China? More colloquially, it’s called, “what’s in it for me?”

I’ve attended meetings of government for businesses warning of technology transfer and IP theft by China. Companies openly acknowledge the concern and talk about transfer “yesterday’s” technology while developing “tomorrow’s” technology for the home markets and industries.

Yet the technology transfers and brain-trust transfers continue.

Enders, in responding to my question about technology transfer of the A320 FAL, said production is only a minor part of technology going into an airplane. True enough, but a little bit here and a little bit there and pretty soon you’re talking about real technology transfer.

And this was long before the FUAB and other production techniques emerged in recent years.

Boeing has a Russia Engineering Design center and has long imported Russian engineers under H1B visas. This was a real sore point to SPEEA, the Boeing engineers’ union, during the design and development of the 787 and 747-8.

If anyone thinks that the Russian engineers didn’t take home added expertise and apply it to home-market commercial and military airplanes, I’ve got that proverbial bridge to sell you.

New competitors

During the run-up to the 2009 strike by Boeing’s IAM 751 labor union, then-CEO Jim McNerney wrote employees that emerging competitors in Russia, China, Japan and Canada made it imperative that Boeing cut costs and the IAM 751 needed to give back costly benefits.

I remember thinking at the time (and wrote about it) that the emerging competitors in China, Russia and Japan are getting Boeing technology transfer—the IAM 751 was the least of the problem in creating new competitors. Of course, even if McNerney read my posts, it wouldn’t have made any difference. His war was with the union, not his commercial and industrial partners.

88 Comments on “Spies and industrial spying

  1. In view of the US being the global Uber Snoop this is all rather amusing.

    • Germany is of course immune. I just have to watch the “Tages Schau” on Das Erste often enough to be convince of it. http://mediathek.daserste.de/
      Last 2 weeks, numerous reports of their defense ministry being totally permetrated (for over a year) from Russians.
      Think of Das Erste as PBS “done right” in the US (like the “Newshour” on PBS).

      The good news is there aren’t enough of them (spies) speaking German to exploit it all. English… that’s a bit more in common supply 🙂

    • This all reminds me of the “Made in Germany” history.

      It was back in the early years of the industrial revolution. England was by then far ahead in technology and Germany far behind and the economy in really bad shape. Then in Germany the educational system was dramatically improved and the emerging young technicians and engineers sent over to England to work, to learn and to spy. They brought home a lot of knowledge and factories in Germany began to copy English products. These copies were then sold cheaper than the English originals and to protect the English industry they had to bear a “Made in Germany” label, so that customers would be warned. Turns out that the German products over time improved so much that it became a sign for best quality instead.

      Japan and Taiwan were also once places of cheap production. Not any more. And yes, they also spied and copied a lot. But did their development make the world a worse place?

      Now China. They are now fighting for a nice place in the sun and working hard. I’m sure they will succeed this way or another, but that will not mean the fall of the US or Europe.

      Do we still have to protect our IP? Sure, also in Germany we have to protect our IP nowadays, against Russia, China, Japan and especially the USA. But not with customs or other forms of protectionism. That will only damage our own industry, like it did with England.

      • Speaking from a software industry viewpoint, let me give you the facts: You can’t even sell any software product over there (china) legally unless you provide the complete source code of what you bring in.

        All…. like 100%.

        That’s fair WTO rules btw. according to some logic.

        And of course you are guaranteed that this will never be used in a competitive product. Never. Especially not by ex-red army guys.

        Scale matters. The only reason they can do this is the 1.5B folks who want to work and get educated. As opposed to some others.

        Imagine if russia wanted to put in place such rule. No one would care. Nothing sold there. And…?

        The rules in China are now moving to cover embedded software in any machinery… sectors by sectors; slowly but surely. You understand of course that such embedded machinery software can be used to deeply subvert the communist party, right? Hence ‘we’ must have it. 100%.

        And of course you are guaranteed that this will never be used in a competitive product.

        Gundoft: The speed in the 1970 (Japan/Taiwan) was different. The world is not alike today. The speed? -> this is just the beginning.

      • Many years ago Yamaha let a Chinese company produce 50cc Engines for scooters, that was quickly copied and a few years later approx. 80% of all 50cc scooters in China hade copied Yamaha Engines. Area after area get a heavy chinese competitor often as a result of goverment mandated co-operation on one Project that then turn to be a competitor afterwards, like the Chinese high speed train project.
        Some western companies look for illegal copies of their Products, test them and then buy the chinese company making best knock offs, help them increase quality and lower prices to get most of the competition to go away and then command a dominat position in the Chinese market.

        • Uwe:

          What country are you from so we can discuss freely and openly its merits and flaws?

          You clearly have a burr under your saddle, maybe Scott can have a identification just for you so we can address it?

          I am an American, I know my history as well as great deal of the world history.

          I know my country has its flaws and its ugly parts in the past and will have more in the future.

          I know I have my personal flaws and I have had incident of which I am not the least proud.

          I wonder if you should be casting the first stone though.

    • It was also US icebergs that sank the Titanic and US scientists that created AIDS. The depth and width of their evil is unbelievable, really unbelievable!

    • @Uwe

      I wish you would give Britain an honourable mention is the US’s poodle. Apparently we gather everything on their behalf at GCHQ (look it up). But we do that solely to maintain peace and goodwill in the world…..

      • nothing special there.
        BND is a CIA outstation only bankrolled by Germany.
        ( at least that is the more than occasional impression one gets.)
        Looking back western intelligence agencies are a close knit bunch that seem to follow their very own agenda.
        Loosening ties to their host governments all the time.

        Brandt, Bahr, Schmidt had very good reasons to keep interaction with snoops ( especially their own ) as sparse as possible.

  2. Scott, Never mind spying, is there anything that prevents Comac from openly recruiting in the US?

    • They are. But such osmosis process is too slow. Use all avenues, at scale.

    • @JBeeko: Not that I am aware of. COMAC America exists, after all…

  3. To be quite frank, Scott, it’s most probably Guam and Pearl Harbor (running neck and neck) as “Target No. 1” for the Norks. (Not that you shouldn’t be “sleeping with one eye open”! LOL)

  4. There’s so much more to building something like an airliner than simply copying a design. It’s only an “airliner” if airlines are prepared to buy it, if local aviation authorities are prepared to certify it, if passengers are willing to be flown about in it, and if local customs officers are happy that there’s no injunctions against importation. That happens if, and only if, the production plant can show full engineering ownership and management of their design, manufacturing and quality control processes. Or at least that’s the idea (your mileage may vary…).

    Otherwise it’s just an expensive sculpture with a passing resemblance to an airliner.

    No matter what, technology transfer happens. Always has, always will. Ideas leak out, eventually. The best you can hope for is to make good money quickly before the other guys catch up, and move on to your next thing before that happens. Develop, or Die (are you listening, Boeing?!).

    You don’t need to become an Airbus / Boeing / Bombardier partner to get the IP. Buy a plane, strip it down. That’s what all the car manufacturers of the world do.

    Though it is another matter entirely if the thing you want isn’t actually for sale, like home-grown automated manufacturing technology. Industrial espionage operatives would be very interested in that kind of thing.

    Japan is quite an interesting country with a rapid rate of change from the 1870s onwards. They sent a lot of youngsters out into the world to learn, and to come back to do things in Japan. A lot of the early things focused on infrastructure, like railways. The interesting thing about Japan is that quite often it stopped to think about what it had learned from abroad, decided on improvements, and then rolled it out. For example, Japan’s railways are predominantly Cape gauge (Shinkansen is standard gauge), which is somewhere in between standard and narrow gauge. Saves a lot of material, but you still have a usefully fast railway. They’d seen it in, I think, Sweden (it’s also used in South Africa back in those days), and realised it was a lot more efficient that the standard gauge that Britain (the foremost railway engineering nation at the time) had settled on.

    I think it is a long time since any Japanese company has felt the need to copy someone else’s designs. They’re far too good at engineering and product development to need to resort to that kind of thing.

    • Lexus was started as a Japanese version of a Mercedes S-klasse, even Tesla Model S is based on a Mercedes from the start.

    • Use of Cape gauge in Japan is due the geographical circumstances. In a way Japan is a mountain range with a habitable fringe that is densely populated.

  5. Reminds me a bit of the days of the development of Concorde and Tupolev TU-144 when it was claimed dummy blueprints of Concorde found their way to the other side of the iron curtain!

    • Yes they look similar, from a few miles :D. Nostalgic, these old days feel good stories. Everything Russian was either inferior or stolen. Anything innovative / brilliant / superior from the commies was thus comfortably prevented. It doesn’t exist.

        • How well do anti lock brakes work on ice and snow?
          It is always easy to dump on different design decisions
          by omitting the differing design environment.

      • Doesn’t read to me like Paul is talking about everything, simply Concorde/TU144.

        Anyway, one item of aero espionage I remember seeing a documentary about was with mid century UK aero engines. I’d guess it was the RR Nene. A number of Russians visited the factory wearing sticky soled (presumably plantation crepe) shoes so that they could collect swarf off the floor for metallurgical analysis. Can’t remember whether this info came from declassified government files or company files. Smart thinking.

    • Too bad they didn’t really copy the Concorde because Tu-144 was crap.

  6. No doubt they are spying. Feels a bit like the cold war era I was raised in. They spy: unfair and puts us one up anyway. We spy: heroic and smart, we better keep a close eye on those wrongdoers. Hello 1981 😀

    • Well I always liked to think there was a chasms worth of difference between US/GB, France and the likes of Adolf, Stalin, Edi Amin, Pol Pot etc?

      Mostly we just want to kill you with Hamburgers and Piaza via cholesterol.

    • Feel free to select extreme examples and generalize. Old tactics. 25 years ago we / most discovered the russians love their children too. Some miss the pre dictable good/ bad world we lived in. Today everything seems less black and white. If “we” do something fishy, we are exposed in minutes. No time to censor/ justify/ blame others like before. Still the Boltons of this world try again.

      • Last I knew a guy by the name of Putin is running Russia

        No matter how much they love their children, if the dictator says go, the military goes (and has 3 x now)

        Maybe you need to live a long life to know that the more things change the more history repeats itself, just with different people causing the same
        grief.

        And Rwanda is pretty close to the near past, so is it extreme or just happiness regularly?

        I know I don’t want it to happen to my country, and most of what people get they did not ask for.

  7. As important as this story is to the future of American industry, I’d venture to bet the lead story on tonight’s news stations will be Stormy Daniels or other headline grabbing divisive segments.

  8. Another facility that neither you nor Gates mentioned, but which would seem to fall in the general category of those you did, is NAS Whidbey Island, which has been an operating base for decades of the P3 Orion, the P-8’s propeller driven predecessor. Although my knowledge is a little dated, I presume that, if the P-8s don’t already operate from there, they eventually will, and it would be just as susceptible to spying from Seattle as the other area facilities that you and Gates listed.

    • Hello belltapper,

      Good point about Whidbey. Electronic attack squadrons (EA-18G) far outnumber maritime patrol squadrons (P-3 and P-8) at Whidbey.

      The following is from a Naval Installations Command Website.

      “NAS Whidbey Island is the premier naval aviation installation in the Pacific Northwest and home of all Navy tactical electronic attack squadrons flying the EA-18G Growler. Adding to the depth and capability of the air station are eight Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance squadrons flying the P-3 Orion, P-8 Poseidon and EP-3E Aries.”

      https://cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrnw/installations/nas_whidbey_island.html

      Wikipedia’s page on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, which I believe is a bit out of date, lists 16 electronic attack squadrons, four maritime patrol squadrons, 1 fleet reconnaissance squadron, one fleet logistics squadron, and one search and rescuer squadron as being based at Whidbey.

      • Capabilities of the EA-18G according to Wikipedia.

        “The Growler’s flight performance is similar to that of the F/A-18E/F. This attribute enables the Growler to perform escort jamming as well as the traditional standoff jamming mission (Radar jamming and deception).”

        “The EA-18G can be fitted with up to five ALQ-99 jamming pods and will typically add two AIM-120 AMRAAM or AGM-88 HARM missiles.[5] The EA-18G will also use the INCANS Interference Cancellation system that will allow voice communication while jamming enemy communications, a capability not available on the EA-6B.[31] In addition to the radar warning and jamming equipment, the Growler possesses a communications receiver and jamming system that will provide suppression and electronic attack against airborne communication threats.”

  9. Taiwan, Japan, & Korea have all been very sucessful in their industrial capabilities. Culture and hard work have mattered. But favorable trade relations with the US, because of their strategic location in countering China ( and North Korea), has also been a significant factor. The US machine tool industry took an in incredible hit from Taiwan, but it kept an ally that still survives today.

  10. France also has been listed as quite high on the industrial espionage rating list.

  11. About as quiet a kick out of biblical proportions as you can get and pretty much mum from the WH.

    Of course considering how many breaches we know about of our so called private information?

    I always laugh at the doctors, this is to protect your privacy! Yep, from me.

    We want to take your picture. And you are going to do what with it? Do I get an ID badge?

    At least we arrn’t on FB.

    • You do have to wonder if spying is really worth it when they just hack into everything.

      • Never underestimate the value of good old fashion legwork and “social engineering”. Recruitment is where the Soviets excel at and where the west lags behind partly because it’s much easier to penetrate an open society than a police state.

        • Reams of data are more easily removed over internet.

          Of course memory sticks have their uses as well.

          Boeing is truly stupidity employing the Russians and letting them anywhere near their computers.

          • One of the old fashioned ways of getting data out of a facility before the internet and memory sticks was to use the ‘spare tracks’ on floppy disks that were set aside for blocks that had errors flagged.
            Wouldnt show up with a normal reader, may still apply for memory sticks !

  12. As a former spook I’d say your assessment is spot on. Why develop your own technology when you can copy someone else’s (Tu-4 anyone?). The Russians are, as evidenced, extremely aggressive in their overseas intelligence activities. Always have been and always will be. Never forget that.

    • ” Always have been and always will be. ”
      Would be like the US spying on delegates for the Washington naval Treaty in 1921 ?

        • Well, there’s always Revolutionary spying too, reporting up to Washington’s staff. “Turn” series, anyone? LOL

          • Going off topic but it seems that a number would prefer to hide their heads in the sand and not differentiate one from the other.

            I wonder what they would feel if they had to live under a dictatorship?

    • “The Russians are, as evidenced, extremely aggressive in their overseas intelligence activities. Always have been and always will be. Never forget that.”

      They probably spent less time, money, effort than the US.

      The difference is in what got presented in western media and what not. opening archives after the end of the SU was enlightening.
      Just like the Cuba crisis did not start with missiles on Cuba most of the other acts of “unprovoked and raw Soviet aggression” had quite a bit of invisible “foreplay” arranged by the US.

  13. Wasnt the coast from Northern California all the way up through Alaska know as Russian America until 1824?( 1825 they negotiated the current Canada border)
    When US explorers were just finding their way through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachians in 1750, the dane Vitus Bering was exploring the Alaskan coast for Russia in 1740s.

      • Well I suspect if you asked them, you would find out that the Native peoples would rather have the US than Russian or China.

        Despite the history, the Native people are some of the most respectful of the nation, probably the most. You won’t find a flag burning at any of the gatherings.

        They serve is vastly higher percentage than their number as a whole.

        Its one thing to know history, its another to make conclusion based on alternatives that are not what happened.

        Germany, France, Belgium, UK, all had extensive foreign take overs (Empires – including China)

  14. Scott,

    Your read on the aerospace industry is not at all different from what the Chinese did to the fiber communications industry. Years ago (late 90s), there were a bunch of companies called Ciena, Nortel, Lucent and a host of other companies trying to get into the telecomm boom. China (Shenzhen area specifically) had the cheap labor, and literally everyone went there. And there was this cheap piddly company called Huawei that everyone dismissed as hawking low cost crap. Fast forward twenty years, and Huawei is a giant in the telecom business, Cisco actively needs US government protection or they’re toast. What happened? Well, all of those fiber comm companies went over, got their IP stolen, Huawei and the like dumped cheap goods onto the market, and the western companies died by the droves. Of course, the internet bubble bursting didn’t help. Like Boeing and that moron McNerny, those CEOs of Lucent, and Nortel figured, they’ll just be ahead of the Chinese by a generation, and always be in business. And look at them now. Does anyone even remember Lucent any more?

    But the same story is true everywhere, China, India, and everyone else wants the technology transfer. Because let’s face it, everyone wants to move up the value chain. The easiest way to do it is to steal know how. Once enough stuff is stolen, market share is achieved. Then indigenous stuff starts happening.

    Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • @VXPVG: Funny you should mention China and communications. Bjorn Fehrm worked for a company involved at the time and saw it first-hand.

      • He wasn’t the only one, Scott. Far from it.

        I don’t think most people understood the magnitude of devastation that China backed Huawei brought to the fiber comm business back in the early 2000s. Anyone who has a sense of history immediately sees that this is how talent exits a country, and starts pooling somewhere else. And the fiber comm industry today is a race to the bottom, just give me the cheapest pricing, if you have new IP, expect it to be spread widely across the world by Huawei and ZTE before the end of next year.

        But all you have to do is trust our current leaders who have a horrendously short time horizon and is only thinking about the next quarter, rather than the rest of the century.

        China is very focused on leapfrogging everything in sight, biotech, AI, semiconductor, just name it. And it isn’t for the good of ordinary people.

        They’ve already cornered the solar, and if the morons out there think they’re doing it for the environment, I would invite them to look at what’s happening around inner Mongolia where all the rare earth is being mined for those solar panels, and our precious precious iPhones. Or just take a deep breath in Beijing.

        • The Chinese demanded cleaning Equipment on smokestack industries years ago but the local politicians were bribed to let them not turn them on. So they polluted as before, then the measurement of air quality and some logical thinking before Beijing Olympics got them to understand the bluff and they forced all the industry to turn them on, actually it improved the air quality in Beijing alot.
          One wish they do careful archiological investigations saving 5000-6000 old items before ruin it all by skipping the investigation and just build new motorways, shopping centers and train tracks right thru these historical sites in record speed.

        • Rather simplistic and strongly partisan viewpoint.
          This is OK. But you should also accept that it is not reality.

          • Of course it’s partisan, it also happens to be true. It’s economic warfare, everyone on the planet practices it. And it’s been done throughout history. You’d have to be willfully blind or completely ignorant not to see it.

            And yes, history has a lot to do with it. I think it also doesn’t help that western companies are led in general by the short sighted managers who are focused on quarterly goals and their own stock options.

        • See my post towards the beginning of this post: Generalization of what happened to Cisco.

          I worked at Bell Labs in Naperville late 90s early 2000. Saw it first hand. Of course, we accounting shenanigans did not help.

          • Uwe: If there is one person posting here who does not know reality that would be you.

      • I’d encourage you to read the PDF at the end of this article.
        https://www.axios.com/trump-team-debates-nationalizing-5g-network-f1e92a49-60f2-4e3e-acd4-f3eb03d910ff.html

        Forget such nationalization talk. Non-sense in practical terms.

        But read about the 100B$ chinese gov. free credit extended to Huawei to conquer 3-4-5G telco infrastructure deals worldwide. How do you want to compete with this? Second, how about this for a nice trojan horse?

        I know in Africa most of the infrastructure is now Huawei.

        ps: But Uwe’s germany rather run on free Huawei kit than the rest am sure reading his position 🙂

    • Only the Chinese didn’t dump the stuff they manufactured.
      That was US companies that had moved manufacturing to China for higher profits. ( and in the US you get quality wise what the Chinese manufacturer got paid :: pennies worth.)
      After the Opium Wars it is unsurprising that China acts as they do.

      • Funny, Vietnam who had every right to hate the US for 1000 years has turned that around.

        We were just another foreign power that has tried to dictate to them for 5,000 years, and not the worst either .

        I admire their ability to understand history and put it in context.

        Amazing people.

        • ‘Amazing people’, yes but they dont have Fox TV to ‘explain their history’, its a one party state so a government line can prevail thats seen as in their best interests.

          • Too many reports of Americans returning and being treated well.

            Huge difference between taking in the propaganda (true) and being nice to Americans.

            That includes VC as well as the NVA.

            They have much longer history than the US and Europe.

            It began formulating as a Vietnamese entity 1000 BC.

            A rich culture with an always greedy Northern neighbor (who they proceeded to fight to a standstill post US Vietnam War era) .

            I don’t like the political setup but as a country and a people I respect them deeply.

      • @ Uwe

        I am inclined to agree with you on the opium wars bit. Strangely the role of the British Empire, never mentioned in school, in drug smuggling was quite reprehensible, only tempered by the strategic necessity to have tea!!

        I have met and dealt with the Chinese both at home and in China and the one thing that comes through loud and clear is the sense of history and the ‘need’ for China to assume it rightful place in the world order. This comes from the most westernised 0.00001% of the population so to understand the context of wider China can be imagined.

        Technology will inevitably trickle down in one way or another. Commercial aircraft are at the pinnacle of what is difficult to design to a modern standard but the basics are a known quantity and have been for many years.

        The awful phrase ‘innovate or die’ springs to mind, we are at a point in aviation where all the base attributes of aircraft are known and it is a case of iterating smaller and smaller improvements to that basic design. In this scenario it is inevitable that other countries OEMs will progressively gain ground.

        Some are closer, see what Embraer has done from a lowly beginning as an example of what can be achieved.

        • None of the following alludes to that history should be ignored, but if we want to go back far enough, all society are complicit in high crimes.

          At issue though is do you endlessly beating your chest on how badly you have been treated or do you get on with life?

          Does that in turn allow China to resume the old empire of Genghis Kahn? As I recall that reached the Gates of Vienna, Moscow was taken.

          And along the way, how many people has the various Chinese empires done in?

          What I can say is that I have lived among and with a people who have every right to be aggrieved at the US.

          One of them rescued my folks before I was born.

          I have a number of friends in that community.

          While not all feel that way (nor do I expect them to) none I have associated with has told me I need to leave.

          Many years ago, my grandfather asked me if I thought about it.

          I told him yes, there was nothing I could do about what happened other than not to ignore it.

          What I can control is what I do going forward.

          I know my country has a sordid history of its own. I don’t ignore that. I also know it has been a beacon and a bright spot in a dark world.

          Despite the flaws of the men who wrote it (slave owners and well to do white guys) they also wrote a document for the ages (which has been applied to more and more people as our history has gone on including slaves and the indigenous peoples)

          Vikings raided, burned , killed England for a long time. Does that mean modern day Norwegians are bad?

          Anyone that condemns others also needs to be asked, Is your own history clean and lilly white?

          You can cherry pick but it does not go over well.

          • It is less about looking back than looking forward.
            the kind of national rape that the Opium Wars outcome effected will never again be accepted by the Chinese. No foreign influence will be allowed a majority. ( Seems to work quite well. )
            Similar position for Russia. No war on Russian soil.

            Vietnam: Further along than for example the US that still brings actions “from way back when” up as argument on how to interact with other nations today.

          • That would be the same Russians who ran an Empire all the way to the East end of the Eurasian continent? (and kept going)

            And that would be the same benighted Chinese who took over Tibet, invaded Vietnam and claim the entire South China sea up to a few miles from other Sovereign nations shorelines?

            Me thinks a great deal of Historical cherry picking being done.

          • @TW

            I am giving you the underlying logic and drive behind the pursuit of Chinese technological parity or even dominance. You are arguing something very different

          • Well we can’t have pesky fact of them being Foreign Imperialistic terminators when they have such a great excuse as the Opium war to trod on others.

            Or Russian former empire that acquired the Ukraine, Georgi, Belarus, the Stans etc? 14 Republics or so?

            So based on looking forward Germany and Japan should still be occupied?

            And as the Chinese claim to have discovered North America we should occupy China to precluded them taking over us?

            And the Russian should attack them because China claims Siberia?

            Seems to me that this is a way of going forward at Mach 7 while facing backwards.

          • @TransWorld
            Where have I seen that before: Balloon arguments into the realm of the ridiculous and thus terminate any sensible discussion. ( US conservatives, religious right, rabidly pro gun people?)

          • @DofU

            You are correct or to put it another way from the Han perspective they are the only true Chinese

  15. All well and good….

    Except Irkut’s out-of-autoclave components for the MS-21 are more advanced than anything Boeing is doing on the 787 or (to my knowledge) the 777X.

    Wonder who those darn commies stole that idea off if the land of hope & freedom hadn’t yet come up with it…?

    • Massive help from western companies such as Diamond,Solvay,Hexcel,mTorres, etc
      I don’t know why A &B didn’t go down this route but they must have had a good reason,possibly technological risk.

      • I don’t think the tech was there yet.

        Kind of like Boeing and that volatile mix and the battery.

        The latter mixes are not nearly as volatile but they continue with the volatile as that is what is certified.

        If you change it then you have to re-certify it.

        If your production system is setup for one way to throw a wrench in the works to retro-change would cost you far more total money than continuing.

        It will be interesting if the 797 comes to light of day and what tech they choose to use on it.

        It may well be a mix of out of auto-clave, spun and the Airbus Frame and Skin system.

        • Lots of bashing Yuasa but afaics the decisive changes happened on the charger and system use side.

          then “Lots of help”.
          at some point you have to make up your mind on how to view things.
          Using your view landing on the moon was a German project run on the US budget 🙂

          • I will post the PDF when I dig it up.

            But quoting from the report, it requires a clean room environment to build Li I batteries.

            Yausa was filthy with serious entertainments getting into the batteries.

            It takes a machine to reliably bend metal to correct tolerances and quality. They were beating the metal pieces into shape on a form with hammers.

            60% of battery success is the Norm with Li I (that is done right by the way)

            Yuasa was passing more than 95% and doing it all wrong.

            Their testing and quality control was non existent (post battery build) .

            Having worked with batteries extensively form some 30 years, 90% or better of the issue was the batteries.

            Fix the batteries and the main issue was solved.

            The rest of the work was mostly done post meltdown (pun intended) was to ensure that a crappy battery did not take the aircraft down.

            SAFT would never have done that, Yausa only got the contract as part of the pay off from Boeing.

          • I didn’t write that Yuasa had no issues 🙂
            But: The Yuasa prismatic cells afai could find out have an uneventful pedigree in space apps. ( though the hermetic flattened bale prismatic design is IMU unsuitable for a cycling environment. space shows just one single pressure cycle and they tend to not see high current near full discharge cycles 🙂 The Saft cylindrical cells are definitely superior. Working on a customer project converting away from Zebra Batteries to a Saft Li System.

            Ergo: the primary remedy on the 787 was fixing the charger and reducing the envelope ( charge high water mark), improving the cells was more of a tidying up job.

  16. Even in (cold) war scenarios, specially about spying, the truth is always the first victim.

    Once you made your years & have had the chance to look back, you learn to be critical.

    If news hits all the right buttons for you & it is what you already believed, it is (was?) mostly not a lie, but half the story & scandalously oversimplified.

    Todays tactic is to flood everyone with so much fake news, the truth gets lost in the process and people decide based on perceptions. And you can hire firms that fix that for you.

    It’s great to have so much disagreement on this site, it means there are “clean” channels for discussions and everybody widens their knowledge / perspectives.

    • With the polonium and nerve agent assassinations in the UK,the Russians deliberately left their card behind and must have had authorisation from the very highest level.
      It’s horrifying to imagine what they are up to in secret or possibly what these attacks are meant to distract us from.Keeping this to aircraft,rather than a classic dictators liquidity cry for help,a major crisis is now unavoidable. This will be the end of the supercycle.
      US and European organisations will undoubtedly be studying the MC21s out of autoclave solutions by all possible means,including outright spying.Bellingcats investigation into the Malaysian airlines shootdown is conclusive and demonstrates the amazing power of totally legal open source investigation.

  17. If there are western double agents living a comfortable life in Moscow, that caused dead and destruction by selling crusial CIA internal info, names, contacts to the KGB, what should be justice?

    We don’t want to go there, do we? Would doing justice be a terrible crime that justies international sanctions and public anger? Games are played here..

    • Yes it would. We didn’t hunt down and murder the Cambridge spies and certainly didn’t contaminate Russia by employing idiot assassins spreading radioactive and chemical poison all over the place.Also Putin has displayed a lack of honour,having traded the freedom of his own spies.
      Us old boys have seen this sort of thing before and know that it will not end well.

  18. Two angles to this story. When working for McDonnell Douglas, we would travel to the Airbus plant in Hamburg and really look and study their equipment, processes, technology. One colleague would later return with the insights gained to file patents on what we saw, getting between $500 and $1000 for each filed patent. With a patent in place they were suddenly “our” technologies. There were quite a few trips we made to Good old Hamburg, and somebody increased his compensation via the patent scheme quite a bit.

    On the other hand, years later when working for an interior design firm, we were asked to submit some designs for the ARJ21. After submitting some concepts, we received a notification that the work was not needed anymore, the client had used some laser measuring equipment and determined that the inside of the ARJ21 was an exact copy of the Boeing 717. The data model created from the actual airplane was proved that the parts for the interior of the B717 can be fitted into the ARJ21. No need for new designs. Well, we lost that job….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.