Podcast: 10 Minutes About the Boeing Design and Production Moonshot

June 29, 2021, © Leeham News: “Most often when a new airplane is developed by either side, it is usually developed around a propulsion package that offers 15% to 20% improvement with respect to efficiency versus the one it’s displacing. That’s the way it’s happened over a long period of time,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said on the most recent earnings call.

“I don’t believe the next generation of an engine can deliver that kind of performance. Therefore, whatever cost-efficiency ultimately and whatever performance advantages are derived from the next airplane in my view are going to come from the way it’s engineered and the way it’s manufactured. All [will be] with a focus on a lower cost per seat when we get it to the marketplace. And, yes, [it will have] a more sustainable package with respect to the environment.”

Just how practical is this approach? Today’s 10 Minutes About discusses Boeing’s moonshot in design and production for its next airplane, whatever it is.


Leeham News and Analysis
Leeham News and Analysis
Podcast: 10 Minutes About the Boeing Design and Production Moonshot

17 Comments on “Podcast: 10 Minutes About the Boeing Design and Production Moonshot

  1. It makes sence to design a new aircraft and manufacture digitally (like they design cars), but going fast also increase risk and you really need to follow the rules and checklists not to skip any step. How can the FAA/EASA check the process without having the same skill and software tools to double check the different analysis and design steps leading to the whole aircraft design, or do they just look at the filled out test forms to decide if it is OK or not good enough?
    Even today with system design tools and fluid/stress analysis tools how do the FAA/EASA check it (like simulate different errors in different components and see how the system behaves or quad refine computational meshes and redo the full flight analysis at NASA supercomputers) or are they already at just checking certification test protocols?

    • Oh, so that’s why modern cars are impossible to work on,I hadn’t thought of that. Modelling whether your hand fits and you can swing a spanner of unknown specifications involves an almost infinite number of variables.
      Digital wunderkind T7a already experiencing the usual delays.

      • I suspect the T-7A has a wing vortex and vertical stabilizer flow intraction at high alfa under certian conditions like a little beta or sideslip. Similar to what YF-17 and F-18 went through. Hence a new software limitation on alfa or alfadot might be implemented and tested.

  2. there is easily a 20% gain in fuel efficiency in unconventional airframe configurations such as the lifting double bubble, BWB, canard, multi wing and rhomboidal vertically offset joined wing and hybrids of these designs. airframe integration of the engines and active boundary layer control systems can gain another 10%.

    All of these designs except the BWB make use of conventional fuselage construction techniques that are amenable to simple stretching, and would not challenge customer acceptance.

    the inability of Boeing to see beyond conventional tube and wing design is the roadblock to progress, not the engines.

    • I doubt you can gain that much with the same TO weight. Keeping wing span the same you work really hard to get more than 4%, Increasing span alot like on the Boeing Truss Brazed aircraft with active flutter control you might get another 4%, still the new CFMI RISE engine gives you +10%. The quick and dirty way for Boeing is to take the NASA Truss Brazed aircraft and hang the RISE engine onto it, lots of details has to be worked out to certify it but NASA is doing a good part of the job for free.

      • the 3 wing planform gives you effectively triple the wingspan at a higher aspect ratio in the same gate box.

        double bubble canard give you dual lifting surfaces plus a lifting body and reduced cross sectional area for the same passenger count and twin aisles for boarding and deboarding.

        the offset rhomboid gives you effectively double the wingspan at a much higher aspect ratio in the same gate box.

        the solutions are out there that will give the step change in economics needed to make an all new design a winner.

  3. Boeing is certainly thinking the right way.

    This is however exactly what you would get if the CATIA CAD sales guy met the SAP MRP-II sales guy and the KUKA sales guy at a bar along with a few 5G/WiFi 6 and Industry 4.0 guys. (A bar is a good place to meet).

    Everyone in Toulouse, Broughton, Hamburg, Irkutsk and Pudong Shanghai is going to have access to it. SAAB at Linkoping clearly already has. Many folks have been thinking like this and building this for years.

    So Boeings strategy of out manufacturing everybody else, perhaps the way Toyota did and Samsung did, may work but it remains to be seen if others don’t match them. Certainly any new Boeing aircraft will need to use it.

    It does sound like Boeing CEO David Calhoun is on board while Airbus is dreaming of cryogenic hydrogen but I wouldn’t think the various engineers and manufacturing managers are ignorant of these ideas.

    • William: Airbus’s plans for advanced manufacturing are discussed tomorrow.

  4. Boeing’s “culture” problem is that the business model makes problem-solving much more difficult. An airplane program might need to solve 20,000 problems, large and small.

    That means project managers need to be aware of problems as far upstream as possible. They need authority to make decisions and reallocate resources. This means a high level of communication and coordination, which is easier in an integrated program structure.

    Every Boeing program up to the 777 achieved first deliveries within 4 years. Since then, the weak coordination intrinsic to Boeing’s cost-cutting business model has added years of flow time, billions in cost, and significant brand damage.

    Earlier Boeing programs, and the 777 in particular, proved that employees will engage and improve productivity when the business model gives them the opportunity to do that.

    • The 787 assembly was a major investment by the employees to get the all new assembly process and issues handled.

      Sadly that was not returned and the whole program went to Charleston after Everett saved it.

      I hate to think what morale is like these days.

  5. The T-7A, with all its revolutionary design & development processes, has already had a tryst with turbulence (Ref Aviation Week article published 5 days back – link below) with the discovery of an undisclosed aerodynamic problem following the wing-drop issue earlier. Hope Boeing perfects its revolutionary design & development processes before venturing out on the NBA escapade, lest it turns out the 737MAX way…


    https://www.amazon.com/Airbus-vs-Boeing-Strategy-Perspective/dp/B08NJM93N5 – A good reference for the complete story on the making of the 737 MAX disaster and how it unfolded

    • I do wonder: how much of the t-7A work and methods is actually a Boeing thing?
      I got the impression that the core is a SAAB effort and Boeing just fudged it a bit and then put their sticker on it.

      • You got to admire the steady hand or negativity there.

        Of course SAAB is going to do all the work and get only half the program costs and loose money.

        Personally I don’t think SAAB is that stupid but wild speculation, bias and lick of logic T is some peoples default.

        note: I don’t usually comment on Uwe as I see no value in his posts.

        • “note: I don’t usually comment on Uwe as I see no value in his posts.”

          Amusing. Greetings from messieurs Dunning and Kruger 🙂

  6. Boeing should not be given a free pass on the T-7A, they have to prove it.

    That said, an aerodynamics issue is not a Digital Design issue. Its in the aerodynamics ONE part of the Digital Design program (of which SAAB is a part).

    Its the reason you build prototypes which determines how good your aerodynamics program anticipated the fidelity of the actual aerodynamics (and if it needs a change for something it did not show you)

    Boeing says they have the wing rock resolved by software fix, the timeline delay that USAF listed was suddenly shrunk to 9 months and Boeing says 6-8.

    So we have some solid basis to assess several aspects. Wing rock now as they said its solved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *