Pontifications: Boeing’s production system of the future

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 1, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing executives have been hinting for years about the production transformation the company sees as critical to the Next Boeing Airplane (NBA), no matter what form it takes.

Boeing’s effort, begun under former CEO Jim McNerney, was code-named Black Diamond. LNA has referred to it many times. The New Midmarket Aircraft was as much about production as it was about the aircraft.

In last week’s 3Q2021 earnings call, current CEO David Calhoun once again mentioned the transformation to a new design and production system.

“In addition, for the 737 MAX 7, the MAX 10, and the 777X, we are investing in our future, laying the foundation for our next commercial airplane development program,” he said. “This quarter, we stood up an integrated product team to bring together a digital environment where the next commercial new airplane and production system can be designed together. While we have not launched a new airplane, this is an important step in our digitization journey and our development journey to evaluate how we holistically design, build, test, certify and support the airplane and production system. It will build on the invaluable experience of our recent Defense programs.”

Defense programs

Boeing’s T-X fighter trainer, now called the T7 Red Hawk, and the unmanned aerial refueling airplane, MQ-25, are the two examples Calhoun referred to. Each was designed digitally.

The “production system of the future” is shown in a Boeing chart:

Source: Boeing

 

Boeing Commercial Airplanes has been dabbling in various elements of Black Diamond for years. The NMA was to be the convergence of all the defense and BCA uses into the first commercial airliner. The Red Hawk was Boeing’s first military airplane to benefit from the convergence of the new technologies.

The 787 assembly plant in Charleston (SC) as far back as 2017 became the site for some MQ-25 work. A section of the 787 FAL was cordoned off with black curtains for the classified work. Although I’m speculating, it’s probably no coincidence that BCA’s Charleston plant was selected for some MQ-25 work.

Boeing’s supply chain is also engaged in the new production work. One of Boeing’s major suppliers in Washington State years ago began “producing” airplanes under the digital twin method reference in the graphic.

Cutting Costs

Aside from the evolutionary changes that are inevitable in the digital and technological age we’re in, cutting costs is a big goal of the new system. Calhoun has been clear that the NBA won’t have a step change in engine technology. (I’m not so sure—GE Aviation’s Open Fan engine, under development in various forms since the days of the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80—may finally be nearing prime time.)

But taking Calhoun’s statement at face value, the benefit to airlines in an NBA would be reducing the capital cost. Calhoun’s theory is that cost savings could be passed on to the customer. (A cynic, noting Boeing’s dedication to shareholder value, might instead conclude the cost savings would be passed on to the profit margin and not the customer.)

In theory, all this would give Boeing an advantage over Airbus. And, had the MAX crisis not occurred, it would have.

Boeing appeared nearing a decision in 2019 to launch the NMA when the MAX was grounded in March 2019. Initially, most everyone thought the grounding would last only a few months. Instead, it was 21 months before the Federal Aviation Administration recertified the airplane. The grounding killed the NMA. (Calhoun, who succeeded Dennis Muilenburg as CEO after the Board fired him, wasn’t an NMA fan anyway.)

The delay allowed Airbus to up its game in the advanced development arena. Airbus was behind Boeing in transforming to advanced design and manufacturing. Today’s depending on who you talk to, it’s caught up or slightly ahead.

Preparing for the NBA

Setting aside that the derivative 777XF appears to be the next Boeing airplane, what Calhoun and Boeing are talking about is the next clean-sheet design. Boeing hopes to compress the launch-to-entry into service to four or five years. The 787’s original plan was 4 ½ years (December 2003 to May 2008). EIS didn’t occur until October 2011, but there were extraordinary issues as we all know. Recent airplane development typically took about seven years launch-to-EIS.

Given Boeing’s recent track record in developing new aircraft, it faces huge challenges in converging all the advanced technology into one commercial aircraft and successfully bringing it to market. A major shift back to the basics, returning to its engineering roots, is a must.

Let’s see if Calhoun will pull this off.

66 Comments on “Pontifications: Boeing’s production system of the future

  1. It’s interesting — and very revealing — that all the advantages mentioned in the lower half of the blue flow diagram in the middle of the article have to do with saving money, time and/or human capital.
    There’s no mention of improved quality control, reliability or consistency — despite the fact that sloppiness on these issues has gotten Boeing into its present mess.
    It seems that the company is still more interested in dollars than in quality.

    • @Bryce

      Good point

      Remember the US response to Huawei’s lead in 5G stations was to knock up a software solution that would obviate the need to build anything but by just tricksy achieve the speed

      BA’s plan is to tricks up some software and farm it out to..(offers please!)…for the actual work

      • Huawei’s ‘lead’ patents in 5G are mostly trivial things .
        ‘The company intends to charge up to $2.50 ( gasp!) per phone that uses its 5G patents.’
        And
        https://www.ericsson.com/en/blog/2019/10/5g-patent-leadership

        Im sure Boeing has tied up its new manufacturing process technology in suitable patents
        ‘ In 2020, the company registered 1,464 patents with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in the United States.’
        https://www.statista.com/statistics/632961/boeing-patents-usa-registered/

        • @DoU

          Huawei has built out 5G networks in China and the US has close to zero

          BA has patents?… but no plane?

          Mission Accomplished

        • Ah FAUB etc. classic cases of what Not to do! Good if BA has a patent so everyone can study it as a MBA case study.

          • 1400 new patents in one year and similar every year. Not one.
            Like :Methods of manufacture for Aircraft sub-structure,
            Aircraft wing assemblies

          • Dukeofurl
            November 2, 2021
            1400 new patents in one year and similar every year. Not one.
            Like :Methods of manufacture for Aircraft sub-structure,
            Aircraft wing assemblies

            Hey Dukeofurl
            Perhaps you missed this one

            METHODS OF MANUFACTURE FOR AIRCRAFT SUBSTRUCTURE
            Publication number: 20210331779
            Type: Application
            Filed: April 23, 2020
            Publication date: October 28, 2021
            Applicant: THE BOEING COMPANY
            Inventors: Jared L. Bolin, Christopher Tyler

          • That was on my list of 2 as examples.
            Heres some more of the 1400
            ‘Landing gear strut assembly and method therefor’
            ‘Autoclave plenum’
            ‘Wing flap mechanism for high fowler, drooping spoilers and high efficiency’
            ‘Interface device and method for retrofitting an airplane with GNSS landing capability’
            ‘T-tail joint assemblies for aircraft’
            ‘Reinforced superplastic formed and diffusion bonded structures’..hypersonic

            and my favourite
            ‘Methods of making laminated metallic structures’

            A probable use in upper fuselage shells , the A380 had the GLARE metal laminate and Im sure it will be seen in more places instead of carbon fibre.

  2. This article speaks volumes in what it hasn’t said. The segregation of the new manufacturing/design process from the existing legacy processes is highly desireable and virtually assures that the next new aircraft will not be placed in the Puget Sound. The current legacy programs will continue to run until their closure BUT the creation of a completely new system is best done in a location where preconceptions based on previous systems don’t exist. This also seems to eliminate So Carolina. I have a sneaking hunch San Antonio is in the running, and probably the front runner……

    • If it completely new and untested design you better have the engineering walk thru quality inspection of receiving assemblies, component testing, assembly and systems testing-Iron bird and Final assembly before coming to their offices and be available all the time to attend issues arising during their walk on their systems, then telling the next shift on their way home to car parking how the solution is progressing. Would not surprise me if Kelly J. had a similar routine at Skunk Works during the 50’s.

      • I agree with Claes.

        Its not the location that is the issue with Boeing, its the management mindset.

        Put an engineer to work solving a problem and they will do their damnedest. It in the blood, we can’t help ourselves.

    • @Bryce

      Remember Calhoun called the B787 $1 billion extra cost debacle an “investment”! All in the eye of the beholder.

  3. Let me be skeptical.
    Almost twenty years after the “snap-on” airliner revolution, it is clear Boeing was clueless how to get the “snap-on” assembly right.
    And the FAUB failure is another reminder of this kind of sweet talk.
    Reality is that all the digital tools in design are scrambling trying to keep up the increased requirements, and the manufacturing part is far from the competence of the decision makers.
    You can get real advantages if you “design for manufacturing”; but in this time of advanced manufacturing technologies design engineers have little real knowledge of the manufacturing techniques.
    In the meantime “wing of tomorrow” is defining new manufacturing tools in advance of the next design effort; I guess next wing for Airbus will be “designed for manufacturing”.

    • Aren’t the design,testing and production metrics behind the A350XWB close to what Boeing aspires to for its future?

      Question is if the project path based on that nice graphic from Boeing goes beyond A cargo cultish copy?

      • > Aren’t the design,testing and production metrics behind the A350XWB close to what Boeing aspires to for its future? <

        A well-posed question. As to Airbus merely "catching up" to BCA, as stated in
        the article, I call BS; sorry. And it wasn't
        the MAX debacle that killed the NMA (or whatever it's called this week)..

      • Airbus learned its lesson on the A380 wiring loom disaster and the CATAIA 4/5 compatibility issue. Airbus almost fell apart over that and lost a lot of senior management, almost an entire generation. Faced with unemployment they were forced to work together. Germans, French finally seeing themselves as part of the same company rather than rivals. The A350 XWB program ran like clockwork after that. Am I right in saying the B787 development program has cost more than the A380 by now?

    • A.Tabiadon:

      We get to see with the T-7 (multiple versions) and the MQ-25.

      The foundation is there, we just need to get rid of Calhoun.

    • TW, William in a post below says:
      “Now it seems everything is being outsourced… …I suggest if the software engineers, test pilots, aeronautical engineers, technicians all shared a lunch mess things might be different.”
      Getting involved with SAAB could be a good partnership for BOEING.
      But it looks the same as outsourcing.
      Boeing do nothing to keep together the people working on their airplanes and suppliers are more or less lemons to squezee.
      The “wing of tomorrow” effort paints a completely different situation at AIRBUS, suppliers are working closely with them and the clear focus on getting manufacturing right makes “design for manufacturing” much easier.

  4. Very timely, informative article, as it elaborates on a topic I’ve only seen mentioned in passing elsewhere.
    What can be said about this revolutionary design & manufacturing method of the NMA in light of the revolutionary global supply chain of the 787:
    1. These ex-GE beancounters will not launch a new plane unless they have some “revolutionary” scheme (or gimick) allowing them to claim that they will design and build a new plane for $6 billion and 3.5 years, instead of the $12 billion and 7 years that every other plane has taken in the past.
    2. The last time they announced a “game-changer” it was the global supply chain of the 787. This scheme was soon exposed as shockingly ill-conceived and amateurish. It ended in a total meltdown, the plane was 3-4 years late and $20 bil over budget
    3. Is this new manufacturing system something Boeing can unilaterally adopt, or must it be adopted by the entire production pyramid, ie, its thousands of suppliers?
    4. Boeing is in a competitive market, so if some “revolutionary ” system proves successful how long will it take competitors to develop something comparable?
    5. The GE beancounters are on a quest for their own version of the Holy Grail: some kind of “category killer” that gives them some long lasting economic advantage over the competition. Good luck with that!

    • 5. The GE beancounters are on a quest for their own version of the Holy Grail: some kind of “category killer” that gives them some long lasting economic advantage over the competition. Good luck with that!

      787 is easily crushing 330neo – pretty much the ‘category killer’ they wanted. Of course abysmal development phase made it into a pyrrhic victory.

      • Except the 787 over-lapped the Neo and Ceo production runs. Since the intro into service of the 787 in 2011, Airbus has produced:

        87, 101, 108, 108, 103, 66, 67, 46, 12, 6 & 2 Ceo’s in 2021 with a further 24 in the backlog. That’s 706 Ceo’s since the 787 entered service (add 66 Neo’s to that total). I’m thinking that given there is still a production balance of $18 billion in sunk costs on the Dreamliner, that Airbus has had a better time of it…

        Boeing also just added $1 billion to the cost of the next 105 – 787’s.

      • The beancounters are now looking to develop a “category killer” in the NMA market space, the 787 is now ancient history in a different segment.
        Also, as you noted the 787 is a financial failure, and for beancounters who care about finance ONLY, the 787 is a FAILURE.

    • I would think in today’s dollars for a 2024/5 launch, a new aircraft is 25B and 7 years. If they can shave off a year and a few B, they should consider themselves successful. If halving those numbers is what the groupthink of Boeing is saying, I am just shaking my head.

      • If Boeing can’t get even the basics right
        (FOD, QC, single-sensor MCAS, workforce and supplier relations), why would anyone take their present blather
        seriously?

        ???

  5. My goodness. It sounds like they want to be the Walmart of airplane manufacturing. Maybe it is just a smoke screen, and they are going to use new tech engines; and they are going to put a lot of innovation into the project. Yes, time will tell. It is amazing what you can get a way with when there is a duopoly. Obviously, they aren’t afraid of the Chinese. Maybe they are going to have the Chinese or Russians build it…

    • Not long ago the Embraer people were “tapped” to do that.
      Boeing would have reduced itself to writing invoices and application of decals.

      • Embraer builds very little of the E series itself. They have tapped the worldwide large systems and airframe structures makers to do that.
        Even a factory the other side of Boeing at Everett WA and another at Arlington TX is part of that network to supply the final assembly line at Sao Jose dos Campos.

        • It’s said that Boeing needed Embraers younger engineers. If this is true then Boeing has seriously messed up its skills and know how retention and development. The experienced engineers, workers probably don’t even have a younger group to pass their know how and experience on to.
          This sound lethal and terminal in a situation of escalating outsourcing of engineering as well as procurement and the war with the unions which seems to have been a big promoter of outsourcing.

  6. In addition to attempting a revolution in its development approach, it looks as if BA may also be trying to adopt a new sales strategy:
    “Ryanair says Boeing set ‘delusionary’ double-digit price rise”

    “”Boeing out of the blue sought a… substantial double-digit price increase. I don’t understand the strategy. We think Boeing’s approach to this is delusionary,” he said, describing Ryanair as Boeing’s only significant customer in Europe.”

    https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/ryanair-says-boeing-set-delusionary-double-digit-price-increase-2021-11-01/?rpc=401&amp;

    • -> “Chief Executive Michael O’Leary also said Boeing needed to “get its shit together” after what he described as delays in the delivery of 65 jets from an existing MAX order …”

      “Sources say the dispute over MAX 10 was already rumbling when Ryanair ordered 75 more of the smaller MAX 8-200 version in December last year. Two industry sources said Ryanair had rejected previous lower offers on the MAX 10 since that date.”

    • +To be fair to Boeing, raw materials, particularly metals, prices that I’m aware of seem to shooing up at the moment and I don’t think that a 10% increase for aircraft that are likely to be built some years hence is unreasonable.

      • Contract is drafted by BCA’s lawyers, to protect its interests. There is built-in price adjustment clause.

  7. They still can’t get their two best selling commercial aircraft correct.(737-max & 787 recurring mistakes) so many difficulties. Far to many terribly obvious bad decisions.

  8. The Calhoun quote in the article is pure time-buying bafflegab. If BCA were serious
    about being a competitor to Airbus, they’d
    be investing in QC and improving relation w/ their line employees and suppliers- period. Instead, they move all
    787 production to flippin’ Charleston..

    Boeing’s like the windbag braggart who once did something impressive, but long, long ago..

    Show us, don’t tell us, BCA.

  9. Let’s tone down the rhetoric before it goes over the top.

    Hamilton

  10. ***Showing That They Can Get It Right At Least Once***

    Boeing doesn’t exactly have a good reputation for being able to execute a product programme these days. It couldn’t even upgrade the 737 without turning it into a costly death trap.

    I think the thing that Boeing needs more than anything else is a new aircraft programme – any aircraft, but not a derivative – to go well. It doesn’t need to be massively profitable, or a game changer. It needs to be a conservative design, maybe an as-good-as-an-Airbus design. It should not be so advanced that it’s risking massive delays / performance misses. It just needs to go as planned. Get that one under their belt, and then customers can start to believe in the company again (even M.O’L. is getting cross with Boeing; a sure sign that customers are having difficulty taking Boeing seriously).

    I’ve suggested before that simply cloning the A320 would be a good starting place. At least that splits some of the market, for some of the time.

    If they try and fail to do that simple programme, moonshots are totally off the cards. On the other hand if they try and actually succeed, they’ll have some sort of stable base on which to re-build (so long as they don’t go sacking everyone at the end of the programme) and progress towards clawing back market share.

    ***Cheeky Strategy?***

    And, how about this for an idea; AFAIK the FBW system in the A220 is not Airbus’s or Bombardier’s (Honeywell?), so perhaps Boeing can buy the same thing and put it into an aircraft of their own? If so, could that make a Boeing product a natural upgrade path for what is currently an Airbus product?

    ***Understanding What the Customer Want***

    Another part of Boeing’s problem is that they just don’t seem to be very good at getting user requirements right, at least not as right as Airbus do.

    For example, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when Boeing engineers were choosing 787 fuselage diameter. They made it 16cm wider than an A330. Why?

    The A330 is not too narrow, for 8 across, and never has been in the decades it was flying before Boeing started the 787. 16cm is not enough extra to make it 9 across without some painful compromise somewhere (Airbus added 33cm to get to the A350’s 9 across,which is not too narrow either). And, 16cm extra is more drag, more weight. It’s like they set out to build an aircraft with the economics of an 8.5 across fuselage, without ever stopping to think whereabouts that half passenger was going to sit.

    Yes, I know I’m ranting with the benefit of hindsight, and I know there was aspiration for a super-comfy passenger experience (and 8 across is nice on the 787), but these are supposed to be smart people blessed with foresight…

    I notice that their pretty picture talks about requirements, and talks about having as few as 200 people designing and building. Ok, so I’m not entirely sure what they envisage those 200 people doing, but it doesn’t sound like enough to fully develop a properly detailed set of user requirements for a new airliner, never mind design it and build it too. For all who care to look, it’s blatantly obvious these days that putting a lot of effort into requirements is the key to success in large production developments like this. You can’t easily be “agile” with aircraft design.

    The well-worn strategy for dealing with problems associated with requirements appreciation is to copy what the other guy does. It’s not glamorous, but it does at least give one a shot at splitting the market 50:50. Which would be better than where Boeing are now.

    It’s also a good learning opportunity; you can start to appreciate the thoughts that went into a design. It’s also gives one a lot of practice in getting fast at copying. What that means is that, when one takes the plunge and create one’s own designs (again), you can then trust oneself to be fast to build it.

    • These clowns routinely underestimate the risks of implementing “revolutionary” methods in design and production.
      Old aviation adage: Commercial airplane design is evolutionary not revolutionary. These clowns never got the memo.
      They need a fancy story for Wall Street how this time the airplane will be developed for half the historic cost. Reality is not important, the priority is coming up with a pie-in-the-sky story that Wall Street will eat up.
      Boeing Golden Rule: tell investors what they want to hear!

      • I can see the appeal of the adage, but I don’t think it’s true. The Airbus A320 was pretty revolutionary. The 747 was too.

        The trick is to embrace revolution only when the company is truly at the top of the game in all departments. If there’s any weakness anywhere (caused by repeated lay-offs / re-hires, for example), evolution is the only safe bet.

        • Well, I would say that to be successful the “revolutionary” elements must be well understood and controlled. The 787 global supply chain was neither.
          I have my doubts as well about the wisdom of introducing an all composite fuselage along with a composite wing on the same aircraft, but it is not clear if this contributed to the development fiasco.
          But the decision whether or not the latest technology is mature enough for incorporation into an already complex development program is best made by someone with some background in technology who can evaluate the risks. At Boeing these decisions are made by beancounters who will always choose the option they have been told is potentially the cheapest.

      • John.
        A few observations.
        Boeing is purchasing mature software that Saab been using. Saabs manufacturing system is exceptionally lean and effective. There was a charge against the T7 program at the contract issuance point to fund implementation of the Saab system into the T7. This significantly derisks the adoption of the system as well as the first use being a relatively small uncomplicated aircraft….. Its a prudent way to make large scale changes…….

        • Will major suppliers need to implement this Black Diamond- SAAB method as well? Will Boeing spend the time and money to coordinate this throughout the supplier pyramid?
          Will the huge penalty clauses Boeing signs for late delivery to the airlines be passed down the food chain to the major suppliers? I have read that this did NOT happen on the 787. Boeing gave the airlines ironclad commitments with huge penalties for lateness, then apparently just had suppliers “pinky swear” to deliver their sections on time.
          I hope your optimistic view is correct, just have to say my confidence in these guy’s abilities to be successful in anything beyond diverting cash flow to stock buy backs is zero.

          • Scott Carrera:

            Good points.

            I will point out, there is a lot more to the T-7 than people think. Its basis is to train 5th Gen fighter pilots. That means it has the same sophistication level flying systems that the 5th Gen does.

            But its also a sheep in wolves clothing. If you look at the performance specs, they claim barely over Mach 1.

            If you look at the listed weight and the thrust, its a Mach 1.5 aircraft and has better than 1-1 thrust to weight ratio.

            Clearly someone in Boeing realized the potential and got the ball rolling on it. There are a number of Light Fighter options as well as 5th Gen adversarial options for the T-7. The 5 billion lower bid was not an accident.

            In its various roles that aircraft could see 1000 sales.

            Many won’t see that but that gets into technical details vs opinion.

  11. -> “American Airlines has cancelled more than 10% of its flight schedule so far today. After staffing shortages caused travel disruptions for thousands of people over the weekend, the company is scrambling to stabilize its operations. Is this the new normal?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/CNBC/status/1455245809637801985

    -> “Alaska Airlines blames its rough weekend on sick calls, weather, and mechanical issues. FlightAware data show Alaska cancelled 51 mainline flights yesterday.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/JetTipNet/status/1455280853102235652

  12. Scott asked to tone down & he’s right. With hundreds of MAX and Dreamliners undelivered and 777x certification going from discovery to discovery, it’s hard to be posotive. But at least Boeing is doing some long term research into production and supply chain solutions. And they must have a lot of do & don’ts from 787 and 777x development.

    • keesje:

      I did not think the comments were out of line.

      Frankly I don’t think you could convince Calhoun to be anything other than the bean counter he is with less that a 10 Kiloton nuke.

      But Calhoun is not the whole organization and I see indicators that others want a future for Boeing. I wish them all the best.

  13. Until new airframe manufacturing processes mature and are game changers, Boeing should just wait until the end of this decade to launch a new commercial aircraft Looking at the large scale thermoplastic parts production will be driving force for a new high tech global supply chain for the 737 replacement. No more drilling and filling 450k fasteners in a 737 fuselage (e.g wings not included in that number)

    Electroimpact, Toray, Janicki advance technologies for rapid, large-scale thermoplastic parts manufacture
    https://www.compositesworld.com/news/electroimpact-toray-and-janicki-advance-processing-technologies-for-rapid-large-scale-thermoplastic-part-manufacture

    • > Until new airframe manufacturing processes mature and are game changers, Boeing should just wait until the end of this decade to launch a new commercial aircraft <

      And what's cool is Airbus will just sit on their hands while waiting for BCA to "leapfrog" them, in ten or twenty or more years.. /s

      BCA need to show that they can execute well a *basic* commercial aircraft program; I'm not seeing it, so far. As for a "gamechanger/revolution" from that outfit: no comment.

  14. So Boeing’s revolutionary new production system is code named “Black Diamond”?
    Wasn’t that one those spook programs that went rogue in the Jason Bourne series?
    Will this system somehow give engineers amnesia?

    • I guess its supposed to evoke the high tech mystery and power of the skunk works or phantom works in some way. A bit cliché I feel and might trigger a cynical response. I suspect that is what this will be quite a lot of hype.

      My favourite secret codes ever were the UK Ministry of Supply “Rainbow Codes” the Blue Bishop portable 2.5MW electrical generator is audacious.

  15. So what really is “Black Diamond”. It sound like the same old SAP MRP II or ERP system that Harry Stonecipher sent Boeing down at a rapid rate of knots. “MRP” Materials Requirement Planning suited his outsourcing decentralised style. MRP II tracks the materials delivered both from external suppliers and those made internally as and subassemblies. The II means there is a system beyond mere planning, ordering and scheduling to actually tracking real progress (with a barcode on the Journey card, manual entry when the item is completed etc.). Supposedly using a Bluetooth chip was supposed to be a breakthrough.

    Up until Stonecipher Boeing was a well vertically integrated company capable of designing and and manufacturing most things in house.

    Now it seems everything is being outsourced. What could go wrong. Well MCAS was outsourced to someone that then got the code written in India.
    I suggest if the software engineers, test pilots, aeronautical engineers, technicians all shared a lunch mess things might be different. They’d be different if they met regularly. Skills would be retained in the company, they’d teach each other and cross disciplinary skills would evolve.

    Embraer famously developed its own Fly By Wire for the E series and I doubt the mix up that produced MCAS could have developed at Embraer.

    “Black Diamond” seems to be just a rehash of MRP-II with an additional attempt to integrate CAD/CAM across its suppliers.

    Things are different now. Its easy to do the CAD in 3D in affordable work stations. There is a population of 3D skilled Draughtsman and ways for machine tools to fabricate parts exist such as There are three major methods for manufacturing 3D printed metal parts: Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) using metal filaments

    No as easy as it seems, recollect the A380 wiring loom disaster that occurred because the CATIA systems used in Germany 4 were different to France 5.

    Airbus grew out of that. The A380 was a technical masterpiece and the A350 ran like clockwork.

    The problem I see is that Boeing is disintegrating itself. The Brains is moving down the supply chain. It will at some point end up in say Chinese hands much as the robot company Kuka did.

    Already Boeings engineers are supposedly old. This lack of young blood tells me Boeing has lost the plot on internal skills retention and development as it and its subsequent CEO rushes towards Stoneciphers vision of a company that outsources and gets its suppliers to fund development. The old guys don’t even have anyone to pass their knowledge on to.

    • Informative post!

      I think there’s two sides (there aways is..) . Instead of a “disintegrated”, outsources design & production process, there the fully integrated & aligned alternative. A LEAN one, all noses in the same direction for maximum efficiency & the common goal.

      Tim Clarks latest interview critiques the denial of issues, easy promising solutions and closing the ranks at Boeing as a big problem. He says the more divided euro Airbus model has more checks and balances. Apart more inefficiencies, that has positives too.
      https://www.airlineratings.com/news/emirates-boss-lashes-boeing-organizational-problems/

      If a German/UK engineer feels something doesn’t smell right in a new design headed by his French colleagues, he will put it on the table. Fear for loosing his/her position/next promotion plays little role. With everybody under the same roof, reporting to the same boss that might be different..

      I guess the balance between efficiency vs in-dependency, clear chain of command vs creativity & innovation, cultures, it will keep challenging everybody forever.

      • keejse:

        That is true but also true is that good protection for those who raise the red flag plays a huge role.

        Having been at that pointy end of the spear, do I loose my job and go down the financial drain or live with an issue?

        That is why FAA controlling the ODA is so critial. It take you out of that path of threat to working with an entity that just needs the information to deal with a rising issue (if the FAA functions right)

        Yes it is a challenge but also the Culture starts at the top. Boeing top culture is like an apple that has rotted on the inside and the surface looks all bright and shiny to the shareholders who were bought off.

        I hope at least parts of Boeing are changing and I see indicators that is true, but we also have all the examples of total busts going on.

        The 787 on going issues as well as the Space capsule debacle weights heavily.

    • William:

      There is nothing to indicate that the outsource of code to India (if it happened) had anything to do with MCAS issues.

      The record is Chrystal clear that MCAS did exactly what it was designed to do.

      The stupidity and tragedy is that it did exactly what it was designed to do because it was driven by the goal of profits and profits only. The million dollar penalty for lack of commonly with the NG tells you all you need to know (published and ref to South West)

      Boeing never was vertically integrated. They never did engines, APU, hydraulics , lading gear, air conditioning.

      What they did have were engineers who understood and specific those system and knew when there was an issue.

      Equally clear no matter where the code came from, it was messed with to meet other objectives and no one wanted to admit MCAS had gone rogue at that point.

      The Fukushima disaster is exactly like the MCAS debacle. The Japanese designed those standards to false standards when in fact Japan has a vast history of exactly the level of Tsunami that hit. Not only historical records , on the ground they had monuments in at least one area as a do not built past this line warning. They selectively cut off the history review to avoid the known worst Tsunami’s.

      Boeing did exactly that with MCAS and the AOA. When I was working it was called cherry picking data. Yes AOA does not often fail, but AOA overall is induced to fail far more often and Boeing knew it, it has the records and the history of ramp and bird strikes along with the AOA failures itself.

      It elected to ignore all that. Any half wit engineer knows not to count on a single point of system failure for critical systems.

      So do not blame it on anything but the Boeing Culture that has been imposed by bean counters on a once very good (not perfect) company.

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