Airbus integrates the last pieces of the CSeries from Bombardier

September 3, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus and its subsidiary Satair announced today it has integrated one of the last pieces of Bombardier’s engagement with the A220, the spare parts distribution.

Airbus acquired Bombardier’s part of the A220 aircraft program in January, but Bombardier continued to purchase, stock, sell and distribute the A220 spare parts. From the 1st of July, this is handled by Satair, part of the Airbus group, to give airlines with Airbus aircraft a single point of contact for spares part services.

Satair handles all spare parts supply for Airbus

Satair A/S was formed in 1957 in Copenhagen by ex. SAS people. Its business of purchasing, stocking, selling, and supplying airliner spare parts to airlines around the globe grew gradually.

Over time the company bought local companies in Europe, Asia, and the Americas to have a local presence to better serve an expanding customer base.

By 2011 Airbus bought Satair and three years later, Airbus merged its spare parts arm, Airbus Material & Logistics Management, into Satair, forming the Satair group. All spare parts distribution for Airbus is from then handled by Satair Group.

The Bombardier CSeries becomes an Airbus aircraft

When Airbus and Bombardier entered into a joint venture around the CSeries in July 2018 with Airbus as a majority owner, the aircraft was named A220, signaling it was an Airbus aircraft. But all production activities except the final assembly were still handled by Bombardier. So also most of the support and the spare parts supply.

Gradually Airbus built the team around the aircraft in Mirabel as Airbus Canada, combining CSeries and Airbus people. In January, Airbus bought Bombardier’s stake in the program and now owns 75% with Investissement Quebec owning the remaining 25%.

More and more of the support migrated to the new Airbus team and by the 1st of July, the last piece, the spare parts supply started the transition to the Airbus group.

In practical terms airlines now order new spare parts from Satair instead of from Bombardier Parts Services. Satair has built a spare parts stock with 50% more parts than previously held by Bombardier, explains Satiar’s CEO Bart Reijnen:

“Satair’s footprint of service centers and warehouses will contribute to a greater scope of spare parts available for all A220 operators. Customers can look forward to leveraging Satair’s global presence and we are very proud to be supporting the A220 aircraft with our strong Satair organization. Over time, as the A220 fleet grows and also gains in maturity, we will develop areas such as parts lease, repair, and exchange for the A220.”

The transfer represents one of the last steps in the integration of the A220 program says Airbus Rob Dewar, Senior Vice President A220 Customer Services, Customer Satisfaction, and Product Policy. “All A220 customers will benefit from the same level of service and global network offered by Satair on all other Airbus platforms. This is a significant contributor to improving the overall satisfaction of our growing A220 customer base worldwide.”

Parts that are of higher complexity, so-called Rotables, are overhauled when worn or faulty and then stocked for new service aboard an A220. This activity is handled by an Airbus organization, Airbus Flight Hour Services.

77 Comments on “Airbus integrates the last pieces of the CSeries from Bombardier

  1. The middle and end chapters of the CSeries have not been written. When factored in its short time on the market, and now the Covid-19 effect on airlines it is hard to predict the future. With fewer passengers, airlines may put it on longer city pairs. I would like to fly on it someday…

    • “…it is hard to predict the future.”

      It certainly is. But while aviation media like to concentrate on negative scenarios (reduced passenger numbers for years to come), a fast rebound is also possible…a form of enhanced hedonism that will prompt people to stop postponing their dream trips and more actively seize the day, with a resulting boom in travel. I’m in that second group, and I know many other people who are…it’s an increasingly vocalized sentiment here in Europe*. In fact, I’d get on a longhaul flight tomorrow if any of the destinations on my wish list could currently be visited without a quarantine period**.

      Of course, a travel boom will not immediately result in a broad revival of aircraft orders. But it probably will result in a (seismic) shift toward certain models (such as the A220, A321 XLR and smaller widebodies), and will probably result in the death of the 777X (together with the A380). Thankfully, it has already resulted in an accelerated retirement of most of the tired old (fuel-guzzling) junk that was still flying at some airlines…which is concurrently a form of “greening” of the airline industry. A portrayal of the industry as “lean and green” will help take some of the wind out of the sails of that fanatic Troll in Sweden.

      * In Europe, although there are elevated numbers of infections on a daily basis, there is not a concurrent rise in hospitalizations/fatalities. Most people who contract the virus are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or no symptoms at all (40%). Increasingly, virologists here are likening the current phase of the pandemic to a broad flu season.

      ** A recent report presented to Parliament in The Netherlands indicated that extensive contact tracing had not revealed a single case of CoViD infection that had occurred during an inbound flight.

      • I would not call the young lady from Sweden a fanatic, those who spew toxins to the detriment of the current and future are. Of course you don’t live in California where fires form their own weather now.

        I assume you feel Rachael Carson was a fanatic as well?

        And no, Covd is not a flu, its far more lethal and its alternative facts to say otherwise. Granted you are close to the Russian Trolls.

        Selective facts like infections from air travel are also a meme. An inbound flight to Ireland had 17 positive cases on board.

        Its not the flight, its the boarding, pre infected and de-boarding.

        Try taking a flight without fueling up. Its a system not picking a tiny part out and saying an aircraft will fly. Infections are a system as well.

        • TW

          You need to learn to make a distinction between “positive cases onboard” and “infections that AROSE onboard”. As an analogy: just because there’s a thief in a room does not mean that there’s a theft in the room. Or is that too subtle for you?

          And I didn’t say that CoViD was a flu: I said that virologists are comparing the current phase of the outbreak to a broad flu season. Again, that seems to be a trifle too subtle for your comprehension skills.

          • Bryce:

            I like hammers so subtle is as subtle does.

            I also worked in the real world and no single part made up a system. So its misleading at best to break out once aspect and shout hallelujah when the meteoroid is about to fall on your head.

            Trying to downgrade the Covd to a flu is a right wing meme. Best not repeated unless of course the propensity is to QAnon sort of thing. Then its best repeated on facebook pages that agree with you.

          • TW

            So, in your world view, professional opinions given by virologists in Europe (where the CoViD case mortality is currently of the order of 0.1%) are part of a right-wing conspiracy…presumably in the USA?
            That’s fascinating. I’m going to assume that there are lots of alien abductions in your neighborhood, and a large anti-5G movement…

          • Bryce – ‘… virologists here are likening the current phase of the pandemic to a broad flu season’: and still only very early September.

      • Bryce – ‘aviation media like to concentrate on negative scenarios…’ Think it not impossible that the aviation (and other) media often are correct in their reporting of the facts. For sure, it might not always be palatable, but do not shoot the messenger for relating the actuality – for example, trade or industry market forecasts, positive and negative.

        • I’m not trying to suggest that the common narrative is impossible…I’m merely presenting an alternative. The present prevading opinion may indeed match reality…or it may miss the mark. This opera certainly isn’t going to be over until the fat lady sings…

          • Bryce – my fear (indeed, observation) is that reported fact is often translated/interpreted by interested parties as ‘opinion…’ Obviously all statements, including those of the ‘on the other hand…’ kind, need to be rationalized.
            And we must always recognize when the writer/speaker has a vested interest in others believing what they say to be true, as also we must note any ambiguity or non-sequitor. For example, Boeing’s Mike Bair was exactly correct when he said in 2007 that the 787 would ‘fly when it is ready to fly.’ That was very much more accurate than some other related information emerging from the OEM that summer. It has become no easier for the manufacturer much more recently.

          • Pundit

            I’m not sure how you’re managing to interpret a projection/prediction as a a “fact”. If we consider the weather forecast for next week, then we won’t know until next week whether the forecast was correct or not…until that time, the forecast is nothing more than a (subjective) expectation. Case in hand: the recent hurricane Laura wasn’t at all as destructive as had been predicted in advance.

            In the current crisis, nobody knows for a fact what the situation will be in 12 months time. Although it is a fact that airlines are currently ordering fewer planes, we do not yet know for a fact how long passenger demand will remain suppressed. It’s no different to when financial analysts make stock market predictions: we know that the NASDAQ went down 5% yesterday, but we don’t know where it will be in a year’s time…look at CNBC any weekday and you’ll see how one group of analysts expects A, and another group expects B.

            It also depends on the region under consideration: in China, domestic flights are essentially back to normal. If the aviation industry outside China wishes to believe that it will take years to achieve a similar effect, then that’s their prerogative. But it remains a subjective expectation rather than a “fact”.

          • Right now its all guesses.

            But economic factors for the rest of the world are not China either.

            Equally possible there is a surge and then a dip as well.

            Young people seem to go nuts when the wraps are off so there is a subset.

            Business travel will be another open question. While our online work is a patch to get us through, it works well and I can see business making it a big part of the operation with its associated travel reductions.

            Making predictions sis difficult, particularity when they are about the future.

        • “… media often are correct in their reporting of the facts.” So you are saying they are not always correct in stating the facts. Curious. It follows then that media reported “facts” can be questioned.

          • Ken – as I try to explain to Bryce hereabouts, reporting the fact that something has been said or is believed by someone should not be construed as making the belief itself a ‘fact;’ it remains an account of what is no more than a reportable event. Do not kill the messenger.

  2. How long until Airbus shuts down Montreal assembly line and concentrates its effort in Mobile? Not enough a220 are ordered to keep both going and with Airlines canceling and pushing deliveries its not looking good.

    • Assembly has to remain in Mirabel (Montreal) til 2041 as part of the contract that allowed Airbus to get a majority share in the A220 (CSeries) program for free.

      Not sure about your point on not enough A220 being build to keep both lines open. At this point the A220 seems to be the only commercial airliner that doesn’t face massive cancellations or a production slow down.

      Also Airbus isn’t Boeing, they aren’t trying to break the power of a union (Boeing and it’s strategy on SC vs WA).

      • Guess Airbus are putting a good number of engineers and program people on the A220 to increase its durability and reduce cost. That and the A321XLR might be the main engineering focus until RR and Airbus feels confident the RR Ultrafan is dependable and comes with a reasonable cost for a A350-1000neo. RR most likely like to keep the Trent XWB running for the A350-900 and make money. Since it is a larger engine it probably will get a dedicated all carbon wing/nacelle onto the A350-1000neo and RR most likley want to make the 787-10 installation as common as possible.

      • There aren’t enough orders to have 2 assembly lines and some of the customers have already deffered orders. A220 flying now or in demand doesn’t mean new orders are coming either. Air Canada had similar deal with government to keep maintenance in Quebec but they got out of it. Covid allows AB to not meet the terms of keeping FAL in QC. I think its Matter of time. Has nothing to do with union strictly demand and supply.

        • Pretty idle speculation. At worst Airbus slows ramp up.

          This is a product of the future including the possible 500 variant that would replace the A320.

          That allows a new design down the road to replace the A321 with a larger variant.

          Long term the shift to A321 is going past 50% and you just convert to that model.

          You don’t mention shutting down any A320/A321 lines, clearly in vast excess.

          Unlike Boeing Airbus has its eye on the future.

          • If it replace a320 then wouldn’t they build it on a320 line.

        • @Tom
          Since you claim there aren’t enough orders for 2 assembly lines. And it’s “a matter of time” before they’ll close Montreal (paraphrasing).

          How do you get to this conclusion?
          What’s the minimum rate at Mirabel and Mobile according to you?
          What a reasonable expectation of orders that won’t be canceled according to you?
          How many months of production at min rate does it take before there is a lack of orders?
          And why wouldn’t they close Mobile if they had to close one?

          • Bombardier never had plans for Mobile FAL. They had plans on expanding Mirabel FAL when more orders/demand came. Mobile happen as backup plans should the US had decided to charge duty on the C series .Only with AB as partners did Mobile happen. Bombardier had plans, space and time to expand in Mirabel. Bombardiers original plans was one FAL location. Its efficient to run one big FAL then 2 separate location. RR is consolidating its engine assembly location, boeing is talking abut one FAL for 787 so why wouldn’t AB be thinking same. As for rates it can be adjusted but as an example does it make sense to build lets say 5 units at one FAL or 3 at one and two at the other. Air Canada has already deffered and threatened to completely cancel remaining orders if canadian government doesn’t give money. Moxy has no business case to get a220 until economy picks up. Air Baltic has delayed its delivery. JetBlue and Delta are shedding employees to conserve cash, where are tbey getting finance to buy right now. I believe there are more deferral and cancellation coming. AB will need to cut cost. Next 3 years is going to see very little volume of a220 delivery if airlines are predicting 2023/4 recovery. Mobile FAL has a320 FAL and it would make sense to keep Mobile then Mirabel. AB never had plans for any FAL but they got one now thanks to bombardier give away. A320 FAL was build to gain American customers with made in America pitch. A220 Mobile FAL was build to avoid potential duties AB can close Mirabel with little backlash from Canada but closing Mobile will give Boeing reasons to complain. The way i look at it is if Boeing which has build more 787 and will build much more in tbe future than a220 and are thinking of one FAL then AB could be thinking same for a220. Stretched a220 will be in same space as a320neo if and when that happens then thats few years away. Its not going to help the current deferral issues.

          • Quote: “AB can close Mirabel with little backlash from Canada”

            Not unless they wait 20 years (2041 as part of the 50,1% sale to Airbus).
            Also CSALP (A220/CSeries program) is not yet fully owned by Airbus, but owned 75% by Airbus and 25% by Quebec (a Quebec government fund to be more correct).

            Quote: “boeing is talking abut one FAL for 787 so why wouldn’t AB be thinking same”

            787 situation is quite different in FAL rate of both locations, where different types are build and not build (787-10), company politics and strategy etc. From what I understand of Mobile, it is not intended as a stand alone FAL, but more like a little brother of the main FAL (both in A320 and A220). Mobile is set up as a low rate FAL.
            Also Boeing and Airbus don’t think the same because they are very different companies (I really mean different, not better or worse) due to history and the environment they operate in.

          • “”where are tbey getting finance to buy right now””

            Lessors earn much money. I wonder why they are needed.
            Recently many airlines did leasebacks, but in the end they will pay much more.
            Now BOC cancelled a big A320 order because the airline is doing the deal with Airbus directly, must be much better for the airline and not bad for Airbus too, sharing the money the lessor would have made.

        • There are in the works (right now) of doubling if not tripling the size of the Mirabel plant. They bought 8 times the size of the Mirabel plan in land next to it.Also Stelia (100% airbus owned division) is at least doubling it plant in Mirabel for the tranfert from Bombardier ST-Laurent Montreal plant 1 operations in 2-3 yearsmax. There not moving to Mobile at all. There is rumours of cadence hikes as early as January in Mirabel and augmenting thruout the year. Pretty sure they are already working on the -500 strech if not the -700 also.

    • I think Airbus has long lasting plans for A220, especially -500. Those quiet covid times are good for slowly but surely development of A220 or A322. No rush, just develop, perfection of good designs.

      • If there is a 500 it will replace the a320neo. There are enough a320neo FAL to take on the a220-500

      • The A220-500 should replace the A320 which is still the most produced Airbus. A220 could be even stretched twice to a A220-700.
        The A320plus will fight the MAX-8.

      • concur the 500 would make any Boeing move so much more difficult in the future. Get down the learning curve a tad and shake out the costs then develop the 500 and possibly even 700 variant.

        • A drawback of the A220 is that it’s not wide enough to carry LD3 cargo containers…which DO fit in an A320….

          • Only about half of the A320 airlines use containers for baggage and cargo

          • And 737 uses none.

            LDs use up space and carry weight for more convenience.

            If you can use cheap people the trade off is to non use LD.

            Watch a FedEx operation, little automation and lots of people.

        • What they could do is build an A220-500, and not to encroach on the A320/A321 replacement, a -600. In other words, use the same wing for the -500, but a slight modification and just a two row stretch (from the -500) for the -600. Hence, it could be called a Super, like how McDonnell Douglas handled the stretches of the DC-9-30, to the -40/50; then gave the Super (-80) more legs and length. But, this is all post Covid-19, and after a sustained recovery in American air travel.

          • I just saw an A220 for the first time. It’s parked at MSP. Maybe there for maintenance since it’s number 104 so it was around the fourth -100 delivered. Those big GTFs hanging on the wing, the low slung front, slanted wing tips. Looks like a jr. A350, or 787. As per the discussion, might be quite prolific for the next few decades.

    • > Not enough a220 are ordered to keep both going and with
      > Airlines canceling and pushing deliveries its not looking good.

      1. A220 along with the A320XLR) is one of the aircraft least affected by cancelations.
      2. Mobile FAL does not have the capacity to to product more than 5-6 / month. Mirabel can do perhaps 8-10 max. So neither can meet demand for the next five years. I don’t see either shutting down.

      If anything I’d see a 3rd FAL in another geography (China?) and greater capacity to produce “stuffed” sub-assemblies in Mirabel. Airbus was already moving in that direction with plans for a new building in Mirabel that will produce such stuffed assemblies for final assembly at FALs where ever they may be.

  3. “to give airlines with Airbus aircraft a single point of contact for spares part services.”

    I think the airlines appreciate choice, otherwise Satair could charge anything for so-so service for the airlines.

    A single point of contact could become a single point of failure and there isn’t serious competition.

    Airlines in the end pay all the company cars, salaries and mortages at Airbus, so they’ll make clear.

    • It does as it means that Airbus has full control of the program.

      That is a selling point in there is no confusion or finger pointing and confusion as to policy (like it or not)

      Airlines do the best they can as far as maint goes, but there are no non OEM parts out there.

      You can call up Bill and ask him why your XXX pump is not been delivered and he calls up parts and finds out.

      Previously he would call Joe over in BBD parts who would call George who would make excuses that Airbus was not making enough parts. Its all in the same pool regardless, but the chain of accountability is much shorter.

      Down the road competition will ensue. But an aircraft has a 5 year warranty, so premature parts failures are covered. You can negotiate if a lot of parts fail outside of warranty.

      Engine can and will be overhauled by any approved maint operation as will other parts.

      As you know, new aircraft are huge costs up front. Getting money back on parts is one part of the matrix. Otherwise your A220 would cost you 150 million a copy and you could not afford one (or an A350 etc)

      Yes its a bit of a war on OEM vs aftermarket, but that is the nature of the business and there are NO aftermarket right now. Its all Airbus intellectual property.

      Compare that to the F-35 that was bought and paid for by all the participants and Lockheed has intellectual property rights on it (amazing).

  4. Airbus buying the A220 has to go down there with the Louisiana and Alaska purchase as the all time best deals of all time.

    Boeing’s failure to buy it has to go down as the biggest business busts of all times.

    • Both Boeing AND Airbus rejected the initial Bombardier offer, the next possibility was a Chinese entity. Thats when Trudeau stepped in to broker a new exclusive deal only with Airbus as that would retain the most production for Canada.

    • I don’t like “whataboutism”, but a Boeing Cseries would have created a safety-net during the MAX troubles and enable them to optimize their future NSA around 200 seats, without compromising the (still huge) ~150 seat segment.

      At Airbus, probably that will define a future major A320 upgrade. A new wing / wingbox optimized for 85-110 MTOW’s and high BPR engines. They can, because the A220 covers the lower end of the NB segment.

      If it weren’t for Covid-19, Airbus might have had a 200 ship A223 SouthWest order in the pocket, to start replacing the more aging frames out of the 500 737-700s Southwest has.

      • Thank God the Boeing/Embraer merger didn’t go ahead! The C-series is a wonderful product…and, one way or another, Boeing would have managed to screw it up.
        Hopefully it will stay Brazilian…or undergo a M/A with a party in Japan, for example.

        • Airbus has a kind of gap between the ATR’s and A220-100. As A220 larger version become more popular they might be interest to also have presence around ~100 seats regional.

          They could cooperate with Mitsubishi, develop something themselves, with Leonardo, a new consortium or .. talk to Embraer.

          Not too much overlap between Airbus and Embraer. A220 demonstrated Airbus isn’t out to consume, eliminate competition. Contrary to what some predicted.

          • Good point on Boeing screwing up the C Series.

            But they needed it worse than Airbus did as the 737 is way long in the tooth. The A220-500 would replace the 737-8 allowing a NG new Single Aisle in the more and more popular A321 class.

            Now Boeing needs two aircraft and Airbus at worst needs one (or a new wing on the A321 and its good till 2040+)

            I don’t see Japan and Embraer involved, its 100% overlap on product.

            I could see Japan dropping the MRJ as non viable. Same as 787 where there is never a return (positive cash flow and profit on an air-frame is not the same as retiring the rest of the 22 billion or so investment still not paid for)

          • Oh, I think it would be great if Airbus acquired Embraer…but I suspect that they’ll never be able to do so from an antitrust point of view.

            Additionally: the A220 was already very “Airbus-like”, with its sidestick controls. The E-Series is more “Boeing-like” with its steering column. Not an insurmountable difference, but still…

            (incidentally: I accidentally said C-series in my previous comment, where I intended to say E-series)

          • “Airbus has a kind of gap between the ATR’s and A220-100. ”
            Not really
            4 abreast ATR
            5 abreast A220
            6 Abreast A320
            8 abreast A330
            9 abreast A350
            10 abreast A380 ( last ones being built)

            The Spacejet and the E series fill the 4 abreast regional jet category.
            The great missed oppotunity was MHI and Bombardier on regional jets. MHI was a risk sharing partner with Bombardier on the Global series high end business jets – they built the wing.

            If they had strategic thinking over the passenger market, MHI could have been risk sharer in the Cseries ( maybe the carbon wing ?) and then helped learn the certification process and then Bombardier could have come on board as a risk sharer on the MRJ/Spacejet as they could have replaced in the CRJ .
            A Bombardier – Mitsubishi alliance could have been a strong
            OEM contender in the 76 -150 seater single aisle market and with ambitions in the future for a 6 across single aisle with a
            developed carbon fiber wing.

          • Duke:

            You are forgetting or missing the reality that Airbus does not want to have to do anything with ATR.

            Boeing blew the DH purchase because it did not have big av cachet.

            I don’t see any evidence Airbus wants to get into Regional jets and would love for ATR to go away (proven by refusal to invest anything into it)

            Just a legacy thing they feel they are stuck with from the old Airbus merge.

            Can’t say I blame them, there is not much if any money to be made in that area for a big operation.

            Viking is the sort of owner that works (Dash 8)

  5. Trying to squeeze this in someplace. I think Mobile is designed to turn out more 321s than 320s…

    • The A321 was the first model and I think intent was all A321 for US delivery.

      Then they shifted to A320 as well, I forget what the reason was and they stated both intended.

      It all gets pretty nutty keeping tracked of it all.

      Air Baltic is deferring further A220 but they are not cancelling.

      It takes someone running a spread sheet with all the notes about status changes normally let alone the Covd impact turning the whole delivery situation into a on going changes.

      • The abcdlist CSeries website is pretty up-to-date. I’d put the link here, here but I don’t have it at the moment.

  6. Bryce – although frequently misunderstood, the aviation (and other) media often are correct in their account of the facts in the sense that they accurately report what others are saying/have said — whether by way of forecast or speculation; it is a fact that they have said it. As you suggest, a projection/prediction remains such until the event, and those unwise enough to say what they think ahead of time run every risk of then being denounced for so doing even when they are not subsequently proven to be mistaken.
    As someone or other has said, a prophet is not without honor except in his own country….

    • Bryce:

      You miss the purpose of prophets (forecasters, predictors etc).

      Some years back we had a serious heating problem that was verging on shutting the facility down. The manager looked at the forecast and said it was ok as it got much better giving us a window.

      I looked at him and said, you know they can’t get it right sometimes the day its occurring (we have had pouring rain and they list sunshine for the day and this is the US NWS).

      The response was, well if it does not work out we can blame it on the forecast.

      If its right we handled it all correctly. Win win for the prophets. The financial world is based on that and they continue to stay in business.

      Its a human illogic thing.

  7. Leon – ‘…Recently many airlines did leasebacks, but in the end they will pay much more.’ Do we not all always pay more in the end, unless we buy for cash?

    • Its like buying the house. If you don’t have the cash now, you can still pay for it a bit at a time (with lots of higher cost factor for the interest you pay).

      Or you can do a reverse mortgage and get your money out of your asset.

      Its all about immediate cash flow and not long term costs.

      • Transworld – … but not get ALL your money out, of course, since the lender has to make his buck as well. For all areas of life, I try always to keep overall long-term costs in mind – though obviously for very many people pragmatism must rule (as divorce taught me very graphically).

    • Yes, but some lease rates are so high with the money you could buy 2 planes or even 3.

      • Leon:

        I forget what the full life cost of our house load was, but it probably doubled the cost. 100k to 200k as very ballpark.

        We did not have 100k. Ergo the loan.

        Same with leases. Keep in mind that while you don’t get the airplane, you also can dump it at the end of the lease if your ops and or the world changes under you.

        Like most things its a balancing act.

    • The reason for ( some) the leasebacks was mentioned recently in LNR- they could ‘over finance ‘ the deal and get cash in hand – and a new plane.

  8. More info on the 787 aft-join problem from the Seattle Times:

    The shim thickness issue resulted from a limit notification being turned off in the laser alignment system, which specifies the dimensions of the needed shim. This resulted in shims that were thicker than allowed, which introduced gaps in the join.

    The aft section roughness is a manufacturing issue where the tolerance for skin thickness at the join edge is 5 thousandths of an inch. Some aft sections did not meet this tolerance.

    With both issues present, if a thin section of the skin aligns with a gap in the join, the aircraft may not meet the design strength criteria. Those aircraft are now grounded.

    Other aircraft may have one or the other issue, and those will need to be inspected as well. Although they meet the design strength, the safety factor is reduced so they may not meet ultimate strength criteria.

    The shim issue was found in August 2019 and corrected by activating the software notification. So aircraft manufactured before that could possibly be affected.

    The tolerance issue was discovered in batches produced over the last year, so aircraft produced in that timeframe also could be affected.

    All the problems occurred at Charleston, and Everett records indicate no out of tolerance aircraft produced there. Boeing is researching production records and inspecting other aircraft produced at Charleston.

    • The rear part of the plane is an interesting mix of composite builds. The Section 47 is made by Boeing in Charleston as per normal complete barrel on a mandrel. The section 48 that follows is made as 4 longitudinal composite sections , top, bottom and sides. Then they are knitted together in a barrel shape and joined with the forward section 47 with pressure bulkhead included.
      So the process seems to involve a single piece barrel section joined to a built up ‘cone’ section with a pressure bulkhead inside complicating the mix.

      • It appears that the tolerance issue occurred in the multi-piece aft section. So the pressure bulkhead join to the barrel is good but the following join to the aft section might not be. That would make sense as with multiple pieces there is more chance of tolerances being exceeded.

        The problems can be addressed with rework to ensure the strength criteria are met. This was true at the time of manufacture as well. So with adequate inspection and quality control, it needn’t have caused an issue.

        • Now there are words of wisdom.

          With adequate (well lets make it Robust) quality control, no issue.

          So why does Boeing have to learn the same lesson over and over and over and over and over again?

          Equally clearly is that Boeing is no longer a safety or quality structure.

          As many countries going to war have learned, when you have a problem, you have to clean out the entire command and get people in place who are not corrupted by the system.

          Grant, Lee, Sheridan were not accidents.

    • This episode with the 787 stinks of poor process control. It’s not exactly a confidence builder.

      Presumably Boeing has been very lucky that there’s not much flying at the moment, otherwise we’d maybe have had brand new 787s crashing having broken up in flight? That’d have been the end of Boeing. I know that hasn’t happened, and that something in Boeing led to them finding the problem, but it sounds very much like it was close to being the very last possible point in the production chain before the problem was noticed.

      I now think that Boeing hasn’t got a single aircraft that is the right design and is definitely being built properly.

      • I think this view may be a projection of the worst case. The FAA is aware of the issues, and was aware in August 2019 as well. If there were significant concerns they would have acted.

        It may be more accurate to say that there is increased risk of a structural weakness that must be addressed. Not that aircraft are in imminent danger of breaking up in flight. No one has made any such allegation.

        That said, I agree that quality control continues to be an issue at Boeing. Regardless of who made the individual errors, in order to be resolved, it has to be viewed as a cultural issue. There should be multiple views into the process by multiple groups, with any one being able to raise a concern.

        That points to an SMS approach, which airlines have used successfully. One of the groups can be the FAA, if they have a view into real-time production records and data. The goal is to spot problems before they end up in the finished product. By that time you’ve missed the opportunity for quality control.

        Technology exists to do that and Dickson is an advocate of those systems. Boeing would benefit from this as well, so it needn’t be adversarial.

        The reality is that you always have people striving to do a good job, and then some that aren’t so much. This is true in both labor and management. So the system has to be designed to emphasize the best aspects of human strengths, and be able to absorb the worst aspects of human failings, without a flaw in the product. It’s been done elsewhere, it can be done at Boeing too.

        • FAA acting? LOL

          Lets see, DC-10, nope, 737 Rudder Issue, nope, MAX, nope. 787 Lighting protection removal (illegal) nope – Lauda 767 crash, nope.

          As Einstein observed, doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result is the definition of inanity.

          The Corollary of course is expecting the FAA or Boeing to change.

          • These are your opinions, but are not factually supported. The FAA has been an integral part of the increase in flight safety that has occurred over the last 25 years. Boeing has worked with them to increase safety standards over that time. To say there is no progress, or no hope of progress, is not a truthful statement.

            You choose incidents with which you personally disagree, then present them as representative of the whole. But clearly the evidence is that they are not representative, also many would disagree with your conclusions about them. You tend to employ ridicule in your criticisms, to imply they are obvious, but you also tend to be in the minority in those views.

            We know you believe that replacing Boeing management is the solution to all ills, as you repeat it continuously. But the problems are not that simple. Managers don’t endorse debris or other quality control issues. They are not the FOD fairy, making deposits at night. That is worker carelessness, pure and simple. It plays a role in all quality control problems.

            Management has an obligation to respond to these issues. Boeing is trying to do that, and they have been successful over time. But new issues regularly crop up and that reflects a culture problem, as I mentioned. Rather than management stamping out tree fires, the culture should be to preserve the forest as a whole. That is a work in progress, but is not an insurmountable goal. As I indicated, it’s been done successfully elsewhere.

          • So Rob, how long do the excuses go on? How many failures before you quit pointing at the workers? (which you just did)

            Someone once said, you don’t find out someone character from success but how they deal with a problem. Though in this case, creat3ed the problem in the first place.

            Remember er Calhouns famous “Well I was just on the board I didn’t know what was going on”.

            In all cases listed, the FAA and Boeing management failed miserably. They always fail at the big moments.

            Or to quote a Honeywell Corp exec (we accidentally got on his mailing list). You know guys, these are supposed to be meant, not just words you are mouthing.

            Yes management does endorse debris. Sloppy management and no culture or oversight leads to a sloppy workforce.

            Management has failed to put processes into place to ensure these things do not happen. That is their job. They are not making hammers that if a head breaks off, well at worst one person is injured.

            Obviously they have created a sloppy culture and enable sloppy sub managers who in turn ensure that things continue to be sloppy (or in the case of the MAX and the 737 rudder issues, fatal to the public)

            The best people in the world are only as good as the management lets them (or in a good operation, assists and encourages them) not off with their heads.

            Boeing management is not just sloppy, it actively subverts the process. Its been actively undercutting the already problematic FAA for many years.

            Do you deny the “Cowering Workers” Comment? You clearly deny that it reflects a corporate attitude.

            When does enough become enough and the excuses stop?

            You make 15 million plus a year and you need to produce and yes, held accountable.

            They take the big bucks and this is the best they can do?

            Then they should be fired.

            Truman put it best.

            “The Buck Stops Here”

            Or as an Alaska Pipeline Ballad put it, they want all the glory but can’t stand the pain. Boeing management is reaping what it has sown.

          • Again, these are opinions of yours that you obviously hold dear, but are not factual or reasonable arguments.

            Again, if you have evidence for the claims you’ve made here, you should provide it to FAA and the DOJ, they would be very interested.

            If you don’t have evidence, then you may wish to dial down the accusations. Others far more knowledgeable than you have considered these things, and not felt the need to accuse, ridicule, deride, libel or slander. Those methods are usually only needed in the absence of facts.

            Criticism of Boeing is fine, and works best when it’s factually honed and on point. When diffuse and all-encompassing, with clear motivations in anger and resentment, it’s easily dismissed and ignored.

            But you are unlikely to stop, and may not see any difference between your opinion and fact, so I’ll drop this here.

          • How is it even possible that Boeing’s high management THREATEN engineers who have FAA duties, again in February 2020.
            They should try to threaten cops and will be shot.
            But nothing happens, high management is still running around and keep threatening.
            Calhoun knows this for a long time and since he is in power nothing has changed. Instead he should have fired those who threaten, but he did not.
            Obviously Calhoun is supporting to threaten FAA folks.

          • I think the safety culture at Boeing and FAA has been damaged.
            By successive lobbyists, FAA re-authorizations, certification KPI’s, DOA implementations, and other FAA streamlining initiatives, while saving costs.

            Plus a successful, strong Boeing focus on overall competitiveness, stockholder value, local jobs, stock driven executive bonuses and pensions.

            Everybody has been cheering on the sidelines for a decade.


            That’s why it changes so slow. Most actors are complicit & avoid accountability. If it needs to fixed, it is broken. Who’s responsible for that? Google is your friend, since 2000 everything is logged.

          • Keesje, I think we all agree that there are problems at Boeing. But it’s not clear at all that the reasons given here are significant. Most of it is speculation and is driven by political or philosophical views.

            That doesn’t really help us get to the root of the problem, which is people at various levels in the company (both management and labor) making mistakes. We need to understand the mistakes, why they happened, how to fix them, and how to create the culture that prevents them.

            To stand outside the system and claim that the system is corrupt, Boeing is corrupt, the FAA is corrupt, etc, is a simplistic view and not very useful as there is no direct solution. The accusations are all very nebulous, there is no way to establish accountability. And people become so tired of hearing those refrains, that they tune them out. Most people do not accept that management/government are caricatures of Montgomery Burns or Snidely Whiplash.

            On the other hand if you go after the factual issues and accumulate evidence, you can gain some insight and leverage in terms of how to fix the problems. This is how investigations work. But if investigators made the kinds of claims that are made here, their credibility would be completely shot.

            This is why you don’t see that language being used in any of the official MAX reports. To say those things would discredit the results. That is true here as well.

          • Clearly nothing to see here folks, just move on.

            So, labor is again to blame when its management that is responsible for inspections and safety culture.

            The polite reports repeatedly show that Boeing deliberately undercut the FAA as well as the constant move to self certify.

            Pearl Harbor Headlines: So sorry, it was all a mistake, we promise not to do it again.

            Philippine Headlines: So sorry, that air attack was a mistake, we promise nto to do it again.

            Nanjing: So sorry, that massacre was a mistake, we promise not to do it again.

            Poland: So sorry, it was all a mistake, we promise not to do it again.

            France: So sorry, it was all a mistake, we promise not to do it again.

            So how many times do I get to rob (pun intended) a bank before its really my fault and I got to jail?

    • So called level headed thinking is really nothing more than attempting to deflect.

      How many MAX crashes would it have taken (sand China) before Boeing admitted there was a problem?

      The best employee is no better than the worst manager.

  9. Rob/TransWorld/Keesje et al – Is there ‘…no direct solution…. no way to establish accountability’? As someone or other has said: ‘The heart of a man is a deceitful thing and desperately wicked…’

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