Feb. 14, 2023, © Leeham News: Ihssane Mounir was named senior vice president of Global Supply Chain and Fabrication for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). Appointed in December, he previously was the top salesman for BCA.
Mounir has a huge challenge ahead of him that goes beyond managing the logistics of BCA’s huge supply chain. He faces an irate group of suppliers who are increasingly openly angry. Some border on open rebellion.
As LNA reported last week, suppliers at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA), some suppliers on the sidelines of the conference openly complained about Boeing’s lack of transparency and reliability. Some vowed to reduce their exposure to Boeing or even abandon working with the company. As always, Boeing’s Partnering for Success program—a long-running cost-cutting effort that demanded suppliers cut costs or be terminated—was another complaint.
Some who also supply Airbus but have to trim costs for it as well nevertheless praised Airbus’ gentler, collaborative approach vs Boeing’s threatening tactics.
The latter is relevant for some of the panelists.
The suppliers I spoke to didn’t even caveat their comments with an “off the record” or a “don’t identify me.” Historically, anything they say even in one-on-one discussions has this request. Not this time. Not one supplier asked for anonymity. Nevertheless, when reporting last week, I gave them anonymity. Why? Because Boeing is infamous for retaliating against those who say things officials don’t like.
Which makes the comments by some panelists all the more indicative of the growing frustration with Boeing. As LNA reported last week, consultants Richard Aboulafia and Kevin Michaels and aerospace analysts Ron Epstein and Ken Herbert were blunt and elbow-to-the-ribs in their criticism of Boeing.
Aboulafia is now with Aerodynamic Advisory, which is Michaels’ company, a consultancy. Aerodynamics stands to lose work from Boeing for comments each made. Each has been a long-time critic of Boeing. Aboulafia, previously with The Teal Group, has beaten up Boeing for well over a decade over its lack of spending for research and development vis-à-vis Airbus. Michaels has been a long-time critic of Boeing over its treatment of the supply chain. Both are critical of Boeing for failing to launch a 757 replacement or the Middle of the Market twin-aisle aircraft.
Their comments at an event immediately preceding the PNAA conference and at the conference itself were unusually blunt and, in Aboulafia’s case, especially biting.
Epstein is unusual among Wall Street’s aerospace analysts. His research notes pull no punches and his questions on the earnings call sometimes are presented respectfully but often challenging that go beyond the normal softball, kiss-ass questions posed by his peers. Boeing has in the past frozen Epstein out of earnings call questions and refused to cooperate on other occasions.
Herbert conducts a survey of suppliers twice a year in which Boeing comes out at the very bottom of the airframe sector. At the PNAA conference, he and Epstein advocated for a new airplane program instead of shareholder value, placing them at odds with most of their peers. Herbert’s comments were tempered by the need for Boeing to clean up its balance sheet, however. Epstein, a former aerospace engineer, might be forgiven for his position but he views the need for Boeing to do an airplane sooner than later as vital to the long-term future of the company than short-term profit and shareholder returns. It’s a position that runs contrary not only to his short-sighted peers but also to Boeing’s executive management.
The comments by Aboulafia, Michaels, Epstein, and Herbert—and those sideline comments by suppliers—all represent things Boeing officials don’t want to hear. But these are things the officials need to hear. One hopes Boeing won’t retaliate. Not listening to contrarian views is partly why Boeing is in the pickle it’s in today.
Mounir, the new head of BCA’s supply chain, has a lot of fence-mending to do on Boeing’s behalf with the suppliers. Boeing needs the suppliers. Many suppliers can diversify away from Boeing. It’s time to be collaborative rather than dictatorial.
Consultants who are willing to tell inconvenient truths are the valuable ones. Those who only tell the client what they want to hear are worthless. Aerodynamic Advisory is one that speaks the truth. Boeing needs them.
As for the likes of Epstein and Herbert and the one or two others on Wall Street who don’t play kiss-ass, once again, these are voices that need to be heard. It’s time to put GE’s residual overhang of shareholder value to bed. There is a middle ground. Returning 100% of Free Cash Flow to shareholders is detrimental to the long-term health of the company. From 1997, when the McDonnell Douglas merger was completed, through 2019 when stock buybacks and dividends were suspended, Boeing spent around $62bn for shareholder value. If only half of this was spent on product development, Boeing could have developed two or three new airplanes. Airbus would have been hard-pressed to keep up, even with launch aid.
It’s time for a sea change at Boeing. And time to listen to contrary viewpoints.
An objective look at their bank accounts, portfolio, supply chain, brand value and shrinking customer base, should tell Boeing EVP’s something went wrong over the last decade. And it wasn’t all external & it’s competitors did better.
They gave each other fat bonusses based on short term cash management. Changing that company draining mechanism, should be a priority. People too much focused on the next quaterly, “free” cash flow should leave the company.
IMO Washington should demand change before the next life line / tax break / DoD program / NASA gifts/ Incentive package.
Sadly Washington which means congress is bought and paid for.
With the current split little or nothing will get done on anything let alone a tax situation.
Well said. Alas, several years ago I came to believe that Stan Sorcher’s analysis was correct. There are three legs to science. First, one has to construct as simple of a model as one can that fits all available data. Then one has to conduct experiments or go looking for data that is both predicted by the model and which would contradict the model. Finally, one has to maintain an attitude of skepticism and allow that new data will require some adjustments to the model or it’s outright replacement. Stan is a physicist.
His conclusion was that when you look at all that the GE cabal that gained control of Boeing through the merger with MD and the role played by John Biggs in gaining control of the proxy votes, the simplest explanation that does indeed account for the behavior of the GE folks in total is that their intent was to harvest the wealth of the company, throw money at the shareholders and perks at the board so as to lull them into going along with obscene pay packages for the c-suite. All of the data fits that simple model.
When we analyze every decision they have made, while completely ignoring their words, everything fits the model. Sure we should allow for new data to demonstrate that it is wrong. But at this point, that is a bit like counting on the tooth fairy.
Then of course, there has been a war on science in other quarters recently, and promoting fairy tales as truth has become somewhat popular. And like gambling, doubling down on a stock that has a huge net negative book value (i.e. the shareholders owe the company billions per the balance sheet), so why not? Boeing stock makes “investing” (said tongue firmly in cheek) in Bitcoin look brilliant.
Correction, I misspelled Stan’s last name. It’s Sorscher.
you describe the established path to “liquidate” any accessible actor that has longtime accumulated value and standing.
US moneys “invested” overseas regularly leads to gutting the object, removing anything of value and leaving the liabilities to be solved by society.
European companies also do the same. Like ABB. Buy a local star, cut all other products and developments besides the top seller. Sell it globally for some years and cash in, then when competition catch up, close it and lay off everybody.
For the record, regarding step two – testing the hypothesis by conducting experiments – I note that Harry Stonecipher approved the 787 program – a decision that was inconsistent with harvest.
In the real world, one weakness of the physics metaphor is that we can’t read someone else’s mind.
I remember a side comment when the 787 was launched, that Harry was annoyed about “harvest talk” and launching the 787 would demonstrate he was not harvesting Boeing.
I’ve thought about that since.
One interpretation: academic teaching on harvest says you don’t say out loud that you are harvesting – especially if you’re selling $100 million products intended for 20 years of commercial use. That said, I don’t think Harry was lying.
Second interpretation: Harry actually thought this business model would work. That could be true, although when he was at McDonnell Douglas, Harry said he could make a lot of money going out of business [selling spares] and that if you couldn’t make high profit margins you shouldn’t be in business.
It would be cold comfort to me to know that Boeing executives were not *consciously* harvesting the business. Conscious or not, it is harvest behavior.
At some point, you have to be able to recognize a duck when it waddles by, quacking its head off.
Only on a shoestring budget (built on Risk-sharing fantasized talking points) I believe, which directly or indirectly resulted in costly delays, cost overrun etc. But Harry had gone with his parachute, right??
Stan, I was actually briefed onto the 20xx program because I had some friends who participated in the plan development. 787 was actually just airplane #1 of that program and the primary goal of the program was not the airplane itself. In many ways, that was incidental and just a programmatic vehicle for the real goal, which was a transformation of the industry.
Alan’s catch phrase for it was the “1 in 10 airplane” meaning from program kickoff to first flight in ten months for one billion dollars, which was less than one fifth of what such a program would normally take. The plan was to hire an army of engineers to embed with the suppliers, and reinvent the plane such that it was really just a massive collection of highly standardized interfaces. That way, the suppliers could run ahead of Boeing and not wait on us for detailed configuration requirements for each new plane.
You may remember that in the first months after the merger Harry would fly up to Everett in a helicopter and land on the roof of the twin towers to attend the meetings being led by Walt. That was before the summer board meeting in 1988 when with the help of Biggs he took over the company.
OK, then when the down-select occurred a couple years late and the army of embedded engineers was to be put in place he vetoed the plan. Instead, he was shoveling the needed funds out the door in the form of stock buy-backs as fast as he could. So we kicked off the program and then did nothing. I would say that was deliberate sabotage on his part, while publicly putting on a show that he was actually serious about the new plane.
I think it was a mistake on our part to keep 20xx a secret even from most of our own people. That was his doing too. He came up with the concept of applying what he called an equivalent to a defense program’s security system to the 20xx program and declared the whole thing to be “Boeing Secret.” Hell, we should have told the world about it. Of course, had we done that, questions would have been asked about where the army of missing engineers was.
On top of that, as a part of the move to Chicago, he bought that fleet of Cessna jets to fly the board members and their families any place they wanted to go, at any time, and all on the company’s dime. Then he had his office appointed like some garish brothel, and put that special made, hand tied carpet in the board room, which he had us actually cut to run power and network wiring up into the table. They guy was an uncouth slob wallowing in the riches of the company like some spoiled Saudi prince. As bad as he was, Prince Jim was worse.
Those guys belong in jail.
“The plan was to hire an army of engineers to embed with the suppliers, and reinvent the plane such that it was really just a massive collection of highly standardized interfaces.”
Sounds like a “cargo cult”ish copy of a superficial Airbus simulacrum.
Lack of understanding how such things work below the visible horizon or an absolutely intricate “Potemkin facade” scenario.
Less secrecy would have exposed that.
Could have saved Boeing but also
would have soiled the “sandbox” with all those goldnuggets for those managing carpetbaggers.
I think it was a misunderstanding of how GE and P&W risk and revenue sharing programs work where you have pretty experienced companies like MTU, IHI, Snecma, Volvo Flygmotor … designing their parts with GE/PWA oversight to fit their new top of the line machine park funded by their respective governments. The finances and taxes of those programs was also a benefit to the US OEM’s.
As a retired Boeing employee, thank you for this candid feedback. Both you and Stan nailed it.
You’re right, prince Jim was worse but then we got David. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Dave may be worse than Harry or Jim. Those two knew they were crooks and acted in predictable ways. Dave may actually believe his own schtick. Only a couple times in my life have I met a person that could tell a lie and then immediately convince you that they actually believed what they had clearly just made up. I’m not sure that Calhoun fits this pathology, but he can be very convincing about stuff that he should know just isn’t so. In any case, I would be very cautious about anything he says. There is something that just isn’t right there.
His performance at the recent Atlas 747 delivery ceremony was kind of strange to say the least. He just didn’t seem to be in touch with reality. The whole event was along the lines of a funeral or one of those “celebration of life” events, and most of the speakers made remarks that were appropriate to the occasion. The glaring exceptions were Condit, Deal, and Calhoun, but each departed from reality in their own way. It was easy to see what was going on with the first two, but Dave …?
From an outside perspective it was clear that Boeing shifted the risk and costs to the suppliers who were risk sharers who were supposed to develop their portion.
I could see the flaw in that, but it was a sales job that we can build an aircraft at very low cost, all we have to do is snap it together and reap the rewards.
We saw the cost overall. I followed it and I forget how many teams Boeing had to put together (basically a Tiger team with all the specialties of tech, logistics and management ) that went to each supplier and worked to fix their problems.
Management continues to believe there is free lunch and there is not.
Add in the loot and pillage philosophy and you wind up where Boeing is today.
“Only a couple times in my life have I met a person that could tell a lie and then immediately convince you ..”
Looking from the outside that fits about 90% of all publicly visible persons of importance in the US.
( a harmless demeanor for Hollywood, but .. look at Nikki Halley: so lying and poisonous sincere.)
That really helps explain why the 787 development was such a disaster. Stonecipher cut it off at the knees.
The model I had in my head to explain the inexplicable actions of top management was that it was that program execution was not a priority. The priority was coming up with some fantasy story to peddle to investors that the pot of gold was imminent.
To explain, when old pre-merger Boeing was launching a development program management would release a realistic plan: this will take 6 years and $12 billion. But the short term impact on the stock would be negative. Investors with a short horizon would sell and perhaps buy later when the program was closer to completion. That was fine to Boeing execs, but unacceptable to the post merger GE cult that took over. They would prefer to spout some fantasy how they will do a 6 year $12 billion program in 3 years and $6 billion. It’s a lie that they did not believe themselves, but it can keep short-term investors from bailing. (In the GE cash-flow-uber-alles world, all that matters is the stock price.) So they make a big flashy PR splash about how they’re reinventing development, when they know that the odds of successful execution are about 20 to 1. Does not matter to them. Cause they will just tell investors that the program is 6 months late….then another 6 months late….and another 6 months late….and another 6 months…
Sole purpose is to keep people from selling the stock.. In the GE world that’s all that matters. Old Boeing wanted to tell customers when to expect delivery. New Boeing only want to convince investors to buy stock. The CEO and board exist to manage investor expectations, everything else is irrelevant.
I don’t know if this is true, but it’s the model I came up with to explain the fiasco of 787 development.
Date of 1988 is incorrect. Merger and unfortunate addition of Harry was 1997.
Not exactly. Here is the sequence of events. At an aerospace CEO gathering in the spring of 1997 Harry approached Phil and proposed putting the companies together. He was turned down.
That fall, in the ATF down-select, MD was the loser, thus eliminating their future in fighter aircraft. In a phone call Harry agreed to Phil’s terms. At the same time that was going on, Boeing was finalizing the acquisition of North American Aviation from Rockwell.
By mid-December a schedule for the merger was agreed upon, with the following August set as the target to finalize. That worked, and day one was 8-1-97, but Harry was NOT in charge.
Backing up, in 1992 Boeing had purchased De Haviland of Canada. They had some cost issues and the deal was difficult at best. A Boeing sales guy named Ron Woodard got tapped for heading up the effort in exchange for a promise to eventually come back to Seattle for a better job. He did not do well in Canada, but never-the-less he was later made head of BCA. He knew he was in over his head and created what he called “the office of the president” and hired four other execs to share his duties. In effect, no one was in charge. Boeing got a lot of orders and the five BCA co-presidents decided to ramp up production ahead of the implementation of the stuff Jim Blue was working on, which was a HUGE mistake. A lot of people believe that Blue should have been made head of BCA. Whatever, in April of 1998 such a mess had been made of things that both the 737 and 747 lines had to be shut down for a month to clean up the mess, and that resulted in a loss for the second quarter and threatened to drive a loss for the year, not just for BCA but all of Boeing. At the summer board meeting, Harry pounced with the proxy votes that he controlled thanks to John Biggs, and took over the company. Phil was effectively fired, but allowed to keep the title of COB, even though that was just window dressing.
So effectively, Harry gained control of the company in August 1998, not 1997 when the merger was finalized. Fault Condit for not having counted the proxy votes.
BTW, my sympathies on your loss. I used to work for your brother Kerry, and it was he that got me my first promotion into the fellowship as an ATF.
Harvesting is not bad if you balance it with some sowing. But all reaping and no sowing is an unsustainable model, whether the business is farming or aviation.
Is there any reader of this site who genuinely believes that Mr. Mounir is actually interested in doing his job?
No matter what waffle he spouts, or what mess he makes, he’ll still collect a fat salary.
Wasn’t Mounir previously responsible for sales? He got nicely paid despite mounting evidence that BCA was/is selling at unsustainable discounts.
Even before max Mounir was doing a very good job at sales. Very very good. But I mean, these unsustainable discounts you speak about, if you don’t have any contracts or negotiations or hard figures to back that up I’ll toss it with the usual toss,
I will accept that Boeing has had to give extraordinary discounts on the max for obvious reasons. On programs like the 787? I mean I don’t really know but I can’t see any other wodebody that’s as in demand as the 787 at the minute, so why give unsustainable discounts for an aircraft that’s outselling the the entire competitions widebody portfolio. I mean but maybe they are, who really knows.
On Mounir, if anybody here actually bothered to read his profile instead of looking for catchy digs. You’ll know he’s actually an engineer by training and joined Boeing as an aerodynamics engineer. I don’t know how good he’ll be here though. He may not be up to it
Regarding discounts, you should keep better track of the comments here.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen links on discounts for Southwest (65%), Ryanair (69%) and United (70%).
Also, some simple math presented here after the Q4 2022 figures showed an average unit margin of just $585,000 on a whole batch of MAXs.
Sticking your head in the sand won’t make the problem go away 😉
They had to write off $3.5 billion, with billions more coming because of the re-work. Does that sound like they were charging enough for the aircraft?
It’s the same nonsense that is spouted by others, still to this day; It’s all about cash flow.
Because cash moving through the financials will pay for buybacks, bonuses and dividends. They pulled monies from the future, to take now.
Because I’m not going to be here forever, so I might as well get mine, now. Don’t give a damn about the company.
Q: Is there any reader of this site who genuinely believes that Mr. Mounir is actually interested in doing his job?
A: Absolutely, now whether he can accomplish that – company culture over strategy, that is unknown. He trained as an aero engineer and has worked his way up the ladder at Boeing, good, genuine guy. I wish him and BA success.
Just such a pity that so many of those sales he generated didn’t make BCA any money, isn’t it?
Isn’t that the actual purpose of sales…to make money?
The problem is, IMO, Mr. Mounir has no control of the coffer.
The $52B long term debt is probably higher if we include realistic asset valuations, backlog integrity and not so unforeseeable future write-offs.
Remember the previous decades stock price, free cash flow parties and investment push backs, it tells it all.
Congress, stock- and stakeholders were seduced with complicated accountancy, artificial stock price boosting & advanced perception management tactics (overpromising, funding, embedding, lobbying, half truths, flag-waving etc.).
Debt is debt . It cant be affected by other valuations.
Boeings long term debt has been declining year on year for the last few years
It helps to have facts rather than lego accounting
I’m sure Mr Mounir is a fine and affable fellow, but what possible basis can there be for putting a salesman, who’s job is to schmooze rich guys into buying something they don’t really need at prices that are higher than they should pay, in charge of supply chain and logistics?
Supply Chain Management is probably the most complex and business critical aspect of any manufacturing exercise, not a place to do a management rotation on your way to the C-Suite. you want professional supply chain and logisticians running it, not a guy who knows what grape varietal goes best with the tomahawk chop you are buying for the airline exec.
He’s an aerospace engineer by training btw, both in graduate and masters level and actually joined boeing as an aerodynamics engineer in 1997.
So whilst i don’t really know how he’ll do in the job, he does have a lot of experience and understanding from an engineering perspective too
@Billbo: Boeing’s long-standing policy is to move people around to give broad experience and grooming for promotions. Ray Connor, for example, started on the floor and moved up in sales, as program manager, back to sales, back to another program and he also became a supply manager before returning to sales in the position Mounir recently left. Connor went on to become CEO of Boeing Commercial. So Mounir’s appointment is entirely consistent with Boeing’s grooming of key personnel.
This is not a shot at Scott. It is my view of Boeing grooming being about finding yes people not talent.
Ahhh yes, the GFS program. Grooming for Success!
But then when they don’t talk the corporate line, they are “retired” and as we keep seeing, programs no longer have good managers or teams and we wind up with the KC-46A, MAX, 787 and 777.
I well remember the Charleston debacle when the contract workers were laid off for 3 months lull for the -10 program.
Thing rapidly went down the drain, ooops, them that commodities were what was the glue holding Charleston together but by golly we showed Corporate how much we bought into the whack the workers method.
Do ya think that is what lead to the gap debacle? Nah, just bad luck.
@Scott – yes, I understand the philosophy of moving managers around the company to gain a broad base of experience. I see it happen, with varying degrees of success, every day here at [Enormous Defense & Aerospace Company #3].
What I continually see is that the folks who get put in at the top level of functional areas where they have no lower level experience generally do more harm than good (although they often still fail upwards due to connections and blame shifting). the ones who spent some time in that area in the lower or middle levels before being EVP of [whatever] tend to be much more successful at actually making the company function.
has he spent any time in supply chain earlier in his career? does he know even the first thing about how supply chains work? is his plan more “partnering for success”?
the fact that he was educated as an engineer doesn’t mean much of anything to me, as he may never have actually worked as an engineer.
-> LATE IN THE SUMMER of 2000, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Phil Condit came home and confided in his wife, Geda. “I think we need to move the corporate headquarters for fundamentally strategic reasons,” he said, in his own recollection. Professorial and accomplished — an aerospace engineer who held a patent for a type of flexible wing called a sailwing — Condit had long been seen as among the most technically brilliant of a technically brilliant workforce.
But in the previous year, a bruising 40-day strike by his fellow engineers — who saw his strategic reasoning as fundamentally flawed — had shown the deep fissures at a proud company. The 1997 acquisition of McDonnell Douglas had brought hordes of cutthroat managers, trained in the win-at-all-costs ways of defense contracting, into Boeing’s ranks in the misty Puget Sound. It was “hunter killer assassins” meeting “Boy Scouts,” in the words of a federal mediator who considered the partnership doomed.
The new managers, led by former McDonnell Douglas chief Harry Stonecipher, drove the message that cash flow and profitability — delivering returns to shareholders — had to become Boeing’s top goal. To the engineers, it was all the more dispiriting because Boeing had only recently developed an impressive new aircraft called the 777 under the rallying cry “Working Together,” breaking budgets to produce what’s still considered one of the safest commercial airliners ever to fly.
-> The financial wizards would prevail, hollowing out an iconic company that once stood as a model for innovation and profit. For a time, Boeing would even become a Wall Street darling, doubling down on stock buybacks that channeled cash to shareholders at the expense of other priorities, such as research and development. From 2013 to 2018, almost 80% of free cash went to buybacks, an innovation in financial engineering that had been enabled by a rule change of the Reagan-era Securities and Exchange Commission. From the vantage point of the present day, a disaster like that of the 737 MAX in 2018 and 2019 — a flawed flight-control system that caused the deaths of 346 people, cost tens of billions of dollars and squandered Boeing’s reputation for peerless engineering — would begin to seem not only tragic but inevitable.
This is a problem with Wall Street in general. Short term profits at any costs. C-Suites should have some “skin” in the game with options dating 4-5 years out (which would also represent the bulk of their income from a particular company). Also, no re-pricing of “underwater” options.
No, the problem is management that uses the bull from Wallstreeet and does not do their job which is to balance a company profit and product and future needs to continue to be in existence.
Wallstreet is like a Great White shark, its a mindless predator that you keep out of your company.
Once the sharks have seized management the feeding frenzy to meltdown is a given.
Another excellent piece Scott, thanks.
Mounir is just being recycled like they do with all the other executives. Agreed with the other comments that he’s very capable as a leader, but I just don’t think anything will change in regards to supplier. One can only hope.
Any intelligence on who is replacing Mounir?
@Airdoc: Mounir’s replacement was announced at the time–I’d have to go look it up but memory says it was Darrin Hulst.
Brad McMullen …’ is senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing for The Boeing Company. Appointed to this position in December 2022, he is responsible for the sales and marketing of commercial airplanes and related services to airlines and leasing customers around the world.’
A financial guy , not an engineer background
Relying on only one big customer is an existencial risk anyway. Why wouldnt they diversify?
Big B has opened their eyes to that. Once that genie is out of the bottle, there might be no going back.
An impressively straightforward piece from Mr. Hamilton on Boeing’s fraught supplier issues. I hope Boeing gets the message, and acts positively on it.
They won’t, you have to get change from the top and Calhoun is incapable of that.
The board is complicit.
…”From 1997, when the McDonnell Douglas merger was completed, through 2019 when stock buybacks and dividends were suspended, Boeing spent around $62bn for shareholder value. If only half of this was spent on product development, Boeing could have developed two or three new airplanes….”
I really read this comment
with astonishment which is that apart from the witch Boeing being hunted down by analysts who have no holistic approach, I really don’t understand why Boeing (only BCA) has to launch a new aircraft.
I wonder why ?
Between 1997 and 2018 Boeing and Airbus reached the paroxysm (if not historic) of launching many new or re-engined aircraft on the market:
777-LR program, A380, 787, A350, A320neo, 737MAX, 777-X, A330neo and the acquisition of the A220, ex-Bombardier CSeries, by Airbus.
I’m sure that Airbus is not even ready to launch anything, and the example of the A321XLR, which is not a development that would be a walk in the garden, nevertheless uses the A321 cross section
The 787 was a difficult delivery. For the first time in history the distance of aircraft development to 8 years between launch and delivery to the first customer.
The 747, 767/757 were only 4-year-old developments!
The 5-year-old 777,
Then there’s the 2000s with those setbacks
The A380, 7 years old,
The 787, 7 years old.
The A350, 8 years old.
Airbus and Boeing are offering their recent solutions as brand new development 777-X and re engine efficient A330neo without the market/airlines making it a success?
And doesn’t Rolce Royce, which powers the A330neo, need that?
So why this relentlessness again?
These “analysts” don’t seem to care about the real problem
The airlines have become vampires and cannibals who will be the passengers in sardines of folds even when the oil is at its lowest. So what is this masquerade?
So please why the development of another aircraft after the “Corona Circus” crisis which hit the airline sector hard while these aircraft (777X A330neo) were offered to the market almost 8 years before the crisis.
Why so much relentlessness, for an idea as absurd as Boeing must launch a brand new aeroenf when it is recovering from the grounding, and the pandemic?…
For me, launching a new aircraft does not make much sense before 2028-2030, so where in the market should something be done?
“…Airbus would have been hard-pressed to keep up, even with launch aid….”
Why couldn’t they just not?
As Boeing slowly recovers from multiple crises, analysts want to push Boeing to the edge of the cliff and take all the risk of a new program launch. If that doesn’t work, they’ll be the first to criticize
Lets list the failed programs. MAX, KC-46A, 777X, 787.
Not one Boeing commercial program has succeeded, they all have huge losses attached.
This is not about new programs, its about existing ones.
Under current management a new program would be an opportunity to screw up again. So, yea, no new program, right answer for all the wrong reasons.
Maybe, the program and technical management skills required for a new program are much more intense than they are on sustaining business, but fundamentally they are quite similar. When one looks back at the WWII experience, I think we can fairly say that the growth under pressure was a positive experience for the company. Pressure can have a nurturing effect if it is well managed.
The fundamental problem, as I have posted here before, is that the current management culture from the board room right down to line management doesn’t understand how to prioritize the tools of management.
To make money in the aerospace business, schedule and quality are everything, and budgets are almost irrelevant. The whole notion of a budget, while used initially just to get started, is quickly discarded in favor of the process of updating the MEAC (management estimate at completion). So yes one is tracking the burn rates but one’s focus cannot be on that so much as on the things that drive the burn rates and their duration.
What happens when you prioritize “hitting your numbers” instead of “making your delivery commitments” is that the burn rate goes on and nothing worthwhile gets produced. Also, people start reporting status optimistically, and optimism soon becomes hiding problems, and that soon becomes outright lying. When this is translated to stoplight charts for status reporting, things that are flaming red become reported as green, hence the derogatory term “watermelon charts.”
So actually, I tend to think that launching an aggressive new program that is managed around the making of commitments, with the reporting of status on a watermelon having been made a firing offense is exactly the strong medicine the company needs. It would set the right example and provide that sense of exhilaration and joy that flow from being part of something successful. There is nothing quite like the feeling of watching a new model take to the air for the first time and knowing that you helped make it so. People live for that experience and are lucky if they get to share it once. Let it happen two or three times and one is definitely hooked.
Boeing’s problems are not going to be fixed by trying to coast along on the status quo, and hope that enough of the old stuff can be sold to pay down the debt and cover the phony R&D costs that are being carried on the books as assets. In short, yo don’t become a winner by sitting on your rear end and hoping things will work out.
@RetiredTechFellow: you nailed it. For the past 20 years or so (thank you MDC) B management has driven failure at every level by worrying too much about how much something costs to produce and ignoring how much it will cost to NOT produce (properly and on time).
The concern I have is that I see nothing that will change the status quo and allow the company to go back to proper engineering management. Even the horrific $pectacle of the MAX seems to have taught them nothing. So sad.
> Even the horrific $pectacle of the MAX seems to have taught them nothing. <
This is what's stunning: two MaxCrashes, 346 lives lost,
and it's still Business as Usual at Boeing, with the C-suite
types failing ever-upward..
@Vincent – yes I totally agree. Once lives are lost, they are gone and about the only things that can be done are to learn and grab the opportunity for change.
There is a misattribution usually credited to Winston Churchill about not wasting a good crisis. Regardless of its actual source, there is some wisdom in that. In this business, I think the classic example is the way T Wilson chose to respond to the JAL 123 tragedy. For about 15 years afterward, a lot of needed improvements inside Boeing could be directly attributed to how he handled that one. The entire effort that started with Jim Blue and Bob Bogash on what became the revised lean and process improvement programs directly flowed from Wilson’s decision.
The three 737 crashes (I include Turkish Airlines 1951 even though it was a -800 freighter conversion) could have led to strengthening the design process and used to teach the importance of chunking up systems to manage the complexity issues. As an aside, that approach to systems designs actually reduces the cost of a thorough Failure Mode Analysis, because it dramatically whacks the number of line items that need to be investigated.
It was also an opportunity to reverse course on the harvesting of the company’s wealth. Of course the real answer there is to once again make stock buyback programs illegal, and to establish a uniform national corporate chartering process, complete with a limitation on shareholder influence on the governance process whenever the equity section of the balance sheet goes negative under GAAP. This should still be done even if Boeing doesn’t survive. It’s just plain wrong to let so-called shareholders have a say in governance when they have no ownership interest. Something needs to be done about that. The other people who have an interest in the surviving assets (if any) should come way ahead of equity debtors.
@TransWorld Your comment is fair but should be understood in context. At times I think it is appropriate to talk as though Boeing was the big monolithic entity with a consistent intent, using words like “Boeing want x” or “Boeing did Y.” At other times, it is more appropriate to think of the company as an amalgam of all of its people, and take a more nuanced approach.
The period between day 1 of the merger and Alan’s departure for Ford was one of a massive internal tug of war for the soul of the company. The good guys lost. But, to say that the intent of the company was X during that period is necessarily going to be something that is badly flawed.
There was a plan. It was a very good plan. It involved a new kind of relationship with the suppliers, and was less about risk sharing than everyone becoming more nimble. The goal of the plan when it was being formulated in the period 1996-98 was to fundamentally change the historical business model for the commercial side of the company.
The formula for the 707 through 777 programs had been basically to pour in 25% of the company’s net worth, turn the crank for five years, and out the other end would come some shiny new wonder of commercial aviation, for which we had to sell a minimum of 1,000 units to keep going. There had to be a lot of confidence in the market potential of a proposed new plane before committing to it.
However, a belief had developed that by the middle of this century things would be different, and that planes would have to evolve more quickly, and that much shorter production runs would be required in order to stay in business. The whole point of the “1 in 10 airplane” linked to a 50 year plan was to have everyone involved believing that that far into the future, whatever it was they were doing now would clearly be obsolete and their discipline would have moved on to some new materials, tools, and methods. Another part of the “1 in 10 airplane” stretch goal was to get to a point where if a customer came knocking and only wanted to buy 20 of something new, and we thought that need might be the entire market for it, that we could still take the order and be successful.
That was the goal and intent around which the plan was developed. Now to say that the GE folks who came in with the merger saw that plan entirely differently and intended to use it to dump on the suppliers is entirely fair. I actually think it was worse than that.
But to say that Boeing had that intent leaves me quite uncomfortable. That is not what most of us were about.
What most of Boeing people are about vs the management are two different aspects.
But, an employee is only as good as their management allows them to be. Sure you can push the envelope a bit if you are a top employee and have the position and credit to do so.
But there is a short leash there.
So, when I talk Boeing, most of the time its Boeing management that has been captured by the school of loot and pillage. That includes the board.
But that also delves down into the guy who was in Charge of Charleston that realized the way to promotion and glory management wise was to show how devoted he (or she) was to profit at all costs.
In that case it was an unusually swift consequence. But on the Everett end you had people free to talk and they did on what kind of garbage they were seeing out of Charleston.
The MAX crashes were the same. Did Calhoun say but corners? Nope, he did not have to, they all knew how you got ahead and safety was not it.
So all the best plans and intentions are worthless when management jumps on the scales. And Boeing management and the managers who run the divisions know where the scale points these days.
The 737 Max problems during flight test and the faulty MCAS system probably never went higher than BCA VP for ‘flight Controls and aerodynamics’. May have even been decided one managerial level lower than the VP.
I dont know but for a $100 bill company with 150,000 employees the most
senior executives dont know the details and the board is even further in the dark ( specially in a technical area like flight test and aerodynamic controls)
I’ve tried to explain this before, but this would be the first time for this particular discussion surrounding one of Scott’s articles. This is a perfect example of why it is critical that only qualified people be allowed into decision making roles in companies that make things, which if not doe right, will kill people = lots of people. Certain roles in the leadership of some corporations should be licensed professions.
The MCAS problem represents the convergence of at least three macro trends. The situation requires a way above average level of understanding to even recognize some of the issues involved. One is complexity. Another is the distribution of engineering talent in the overall economy. And a third is behavioral management of engineers, especially design engineers, and most critically, those DEs who work on control systems, which includes air vehicle flight controls.
How many people do you have to get into a room to have the complete knowledge of how a plane works present? Back in the 1970s Joe Sutter was famously asked about the complexity of the 747 when it was still just the -100 and -SP variants. His response was that the smartest engineer he knew only knew about 40% of the plane. At that time, if you pulled together just the right ten people, you could have all of the understanding the plane present. Today that number would run into several thousand people and it would be next to impossible to identify just the right people, let alone actually pull them all together.
The complexity problem started to get out of hand in the late 1980s. That said, the engineering and technical management methods that were in place prior to the merger were adequate to handle the complexity and keep things safe.
In order to keep things safe, one has to understand the issue, and know enough about the behavioral and systems design constraints to not ask the DEs to do something they shouldn’t. And if the DEs are asked if they can do something they shouldn’t the staffing quality has to be such that someone on the DE side with recognize that and push back, and the receivers of that push back on the management side have to recognize the critical importance of the push back and back off.
That talent to be able to do this trick was there prior to the merger. It was deliberately dismantled and gotten rid of afterward. Was this done with a wonton disregard for human life by people who understood the consequences, or was it done in a state of simple unqualified ignorance? In effect, we are asking just how smart was Harry Stonecipher and Jim McNerney?
If you think they were well meaning dumb guys who didn’t have a clue about what the consequences of their actions was going to be you might come up with one answer. If on the other hand you think they were two very smart guys who simply didn’t care how many people they hurt and were totally motivated by their venality and greed, well then you would come up with another answer.
I think the preponderance of the evidence suggests that they were both very smart cookies who were totally driven by greed and who didn’t care diddly squat about what the costs were. But, that’s my evaluation. Each is entitled to their own.
By the way, the problem with the MCAS persists at the macro level and is spreading rapidly into other control systems. I just thought I might throw that out there for consideration. This financial engineering crap is going to kill a lot more people, and at an ever accelerating pace unless something is done to constrain it. There really isn’t any difference between the flight controls on the MAX and the shoddy construction in eastern Turkey and northern Syria. Greed ran over the need for skilled engineering management and quality control.
You don’t fix dysfunctional managerial behaviour with better qualified people lower down. ( Look at the O-ring shuttle crash )
You fix that with managers that accept judgement from below.
Complexity: You fix that by careful interface definitions, adherence to same ( demand less, provide more ) and meticulous checks for technical escapes.
Avoid overly brilliant shortcuts, they invariably bite you later ( M$ had to learn that the hard way.)
Finally reading stuff:
“The Mythical Man-Month” by Fred Brooks.
1975 state of the art, nothing has changed much though.
Thanks for this explanation.
On the subject of licensed professionals.
Could you tell us about the history and backstory of why engineers working at Boeing aren’t required to be PEs (or at least pass some kind of internal, technical qualification test), but the guy designing my house’s plumbing has to be a PE? Obviously there is a far less at stake in my house’s plumbing than an airplane that generates billions of passenger miles over its lifetime, yet I find the mechanical engineer designing my plumbing & HVAC to be more technically competent than 70% of Boeing ‘engineers’. I have lost count of how often I came across “engineers” at Boeing that didn’t know/understood some very basic things, I mean really basic, for example, Archimedes principle, ohms law, etc. I had an intern quit once over such encounter.
@UWE – actually no when it comes to managing complexity in systems design. So this is an area that is squarely within my wheelhouse, and it was on my work on this stuff that I made full Tech Fellow back when that meant something.
At the top level of your systems architecture, what you want to do is make sure that each critical logic tree is fully independent, including having its own dedicated hardware. For example, let’s say you have a function called “safety kill switch.” Then, you don’t put that function as just one of several that a general purpose switch can perform. You give it it’s own dedicated switch. You also give it its own dedicated physical circuitry, and make sure that it is fully isolated. That approach should pass the FMA, unless it requires power to move a relay to do it’s job. That would not be good, so ideally at that point you would reverse the logic in the relay so that in the kill switch does not need power to do its job. Human factors would also play into the system design. The switch has to be obvious and easily accessible when needed. Think of a paddle switch on a table saw that is located such that you can bump it with your knee.
Ok, that’s a very basic example. Physically chunking up the system and making sure that things that have to work even when everything else around it is failing, still works. This principle is then applied to the totality of the control system.
Flight controls are just one subcategory or type of control system. Some of the big control system failures that have made the headlines include Chernobyl and TMI. One that didn’t and should have was the Fermi plant down river from Detroit.
The number one and glaringly obvious problem with the MCAS design is the combining of critical must not fail elements and nice to have improve the performance elements in the same physical computer, all running on a single system software instance. And alas, it does not appear that anyone working on the system understands that super obvious mistake. On top of that, they didn’t even perform the FMA on the original design. The extremity of that incompetence is almost beyond belief. It speaks to a level of incompetence in engineering management that equates to a wonton disregard for human life. The line supervisor who was responsible for seeing that the FMA got done should have immediately started a skip level march going from office to office up the chain until the decision not to do the work got reversed. Failing that, their duty was to put their badge on the table and go the FAA. If that didn’t work, they needed to go public.
When a control system operator is having a bad day, you want their controls to be their friend and not their enemy.
When it comes to basic ethics in engineering, that is not a top down thing. It’s the logic behind Nuremburg Principle #4 in spades. You can’t defer responsibility for your own criminal behavior just because some superior told you to do so. And not performing an FMA on a critical control system element whose failure is virtually guaranteed to kill people is definitely an act of criminal negligence. The criminality in such a situation flows up the chain of command, from the technical expert to the senior management. It would be nice if at last up to the second level of management, there is always the technical competency to also recognize what is going on in such a situation, but with this nonsense of putting sales and finance guys in charge of engineering functions, that is not always going to be the case. It becomes the job of the technical professional to teach their managers what they need to know in order to enable them to do the right thing.
@RTF reply to me, Uwe
You are describing the US model. ( potentially into the general anglo saxon setup ).
Other nations have decidedly different qualification models.
( usually a more formal path. )
@RetiredTechFellow: “receivers of that push back on the management side have to recognize the critical importance of the push back and back off.” Absolutely correct and that is why Boeing will continue to fail for the foreseeable future.
When senior management started overturning engineering safety standards by [woefully ignorant] fiat, I pushed back for years. Had some successes but finally said “enough” and left. Sad to say they’ll kill their own people as well as the flying public.
‘Some of the big control system failures that have made the headlines include Chernobyl and TMI.’
I thought Chernobyl was caused by the tips of the control rods being made of graphite, so when the AZ-5 button was pushed it actually increased the reaction, when the rods fell. Yes, Dyatlov pushed the reactor to where it should not have been, but it was the design that set it off, no?
AFAIR and IMU they misjudged the time constant and “exponentialness” of the fission reaction accelerating. ( coming up from a lowest power state )
When they pushed the button it was already too late. The (massive) power excursion would run its course. ( and i’ve read that graphite moderation has potential for surprises )
never really looked closely at 3M-Island.
Fukushima “went poof” via a lot of design errors ( some basic, some detail stuff: just having the backup diesel main tanks NOT on the quay for being washed away.)
Interesting article on how eloittes have no expertise in the areas that they’re advising in’
Don’t know if relevant to Boeing, but does ring true is many aspects.
@Frank and @UWE These are good comments, and pertinent. There is another lesson here that the brass at Boeing should be learning. The Failure Mode Analysis only has to find one serious logic or system design error for it to pay for itself. Doing a good job with this is critical.
When I first hired into Boeing back in 1983 on the missile program (Boeing was redesigning and rebuilding 200 silos and their launch control system to accommodate the MX missile) one of my first assignments was to teach a class on FMA. I had six months to learn the stuff and develop the course materials. It really was a trial by fire in more ways than one.
In the process I got to see how important it is. The example I jumped on to center the course around was a mistake in the launch control sequence that the FMA had uncovered and which was fixed as a result. In the preliminary design there was a logic error, which in the event of a single sensor failure, could have resulted in a condition of launching the bird into the silo lid had the lid opening system not worked properly. That would not be a good thing in south central Wyoming, nor even on the coast of California with the real nukes having been replaced by test telemetry systems.
Going deep into an FMA for a real system with nukes involved gives one a real appreciation for the totality of a control system’s architecture and some of its nuances. It’s an expensive analytical process, but definitely worth the cost.
While not every single point of failure can be eliminated, just knowing about them can be enough to prompt the taking of enough care with the design such that a catastrophic failure becomes unlikely.
“The Failure Mode Analysis only has to find one serious logic or system design error for it to pay for itself.”
That works for “one” not “many”.
With so many Boeing design warts apparently made invisible by obvious pilot error assignments that could well be a tin of worms nobody wants touch.
( Did Boeing react to the NTSB Autopilot critique in the Korean Cartwheel crash beyond some PR florishes?
I can’t understand your comment. It seems that he disagrees with my
point of view.
Reread my comment
you seem not to have understood
…”They won’t, you have to get change from the top and Calhoun is incapable of that.
The board is complicit…”
Calhoun is incapable of what?
Boeing gets up stronger than 2019 and beyond
They delivered more than their main competitor in January 2023. They obtained MAX10 as the next aircraft to be certified, the 787 and 737MAX are back in the air. They announce a 4th assembly line for the 737MAX,
they obtain a record of cheeky sale 787
Please, Why do you take the old scratched record of others to make us a remix suddenly ?
When you are dying of thirst in a dessert, you can make a glass of water look really really good. Then what? Or why are you there in the first place?
Calhoun was on the board and his famous statement, I didn’t know what was going on.
All 3 of your programs went into the toilet. Each one is an excruciating fix and they have been fixed one at a time.
So no, you can spin Calhoun all you want, he is part of the problem, he certainly is not one to fix it.
With what corner Boeing has painted themselves into? Yea, a new airplane is not a solution. The right airplane is.
All those programs pre-date Calhoun and he was on the board for all the decisions.
You remind me of the Mega Thrust Fault skeptics in the day (pre 1964). You don’t look at the evidence, you just repeat the same thing over and over again.
Nothing says that Calhoun is not a pillage type. Borrow 13 billion so you can pay a dividend when the company finances are in the toiler, sure.
And he will be gone when the consequences of his current decisions come roost.
If it flies likes a Duck, Quacks like a Duct, has web feet and a Duck bill and Duck DNA, then its a duck. But call Calhoun what you want, all the facts say he is a duck.
You can’t stare at the facts forever. The only criticism you can make of Boeing is the negligence about MCAS and everything that preceded it. Being on the board of directors does not mean then becoming CEO does not necessarily not being better.
You are blinded by the desire to want that Boeing must necessarily launch a completely new aircraft. Once again what do you say about the opening of the 4th assembly line for the 737MAX?
Never happen before!
Reinstate the culture of safety.
He’s right when he said they have Incredible products. It’s simply time to put cash flow on the table whether you like it or not.
But for me, nothing proves that this man is not the man of the situation!…
Believe me, the record is scratched
In the previous decade Boeing was making money because they pushed back investment, embedded congress & drained their supply chain. Now they are where they are. Calhoun $aw & $upported it.
Boeings golden years of marketing communications & stake holder seducing.
Now IMO they need transparency, an open discussion with stake holders, radical change in executive bonus structure and $10B government support package to develop a 10% sfc better 150-200 seat short-medium haul aircraft. They’ll quickly sell 2000.
The 2020’s is lost decade for the commercial aircraft industry With Boeing revamping the 737 production lines which will be good for another 10-12 years, nothing will change. So for the Boeing commercial aircraft suppliers, until they are needed to be risk sharing partners on new aircraft launch, its going to be business as usual “The beatings will continue until morale improves” (including the consultants)
Boeing makes odd choices.
The company is facing the most challenging supply chain problems in its history and it decides to put a career salesman in charge.
> Boeing makes odd choices. The company is facing the most challenging supply chain problems in its history and it decides to put a career salesman in charge. <
My thought as well.
“…Boeing makes odd choices….
it decides to put a career salesman in charge….”
This often happens in large companies, it is not unique to Boeing. This one has already happened at Boeing to climb the ladder and do different things.
So please don’t talk about things that are beyond you or that you don’t know…
So please don’t talk about things that are beyond you or that you don’t know…
He was unaware, (you also obviously) that many can evolve. For a long time at Boeing there have been engineers who have become CEOs, for example.
Louis Gallois former Airbus CEO (2006-2007) was Minister of Transport.
P. Condit engineer become CEO of Boeing (1996-2003).
How about A. Mullaly, an engineer at Boeing who became CEO of BCA (1999-2005) before becoming CEO of Ford (2009-2014) and currently sits on the board of directors of Google?
I was commenting on _your_ personal communication style in scope of your presented competence.
Not what others wrote or not.
“You can’t stare at the facts forever.”
Better to immerse in faked news then? 🤣
…”The 2020’s is lost decade for the commercial aircraft industry…”
So look at the 2010s, it’s not better.
Boeing had launched the 777-X and Airbus had launched the A330neo.
If the 777-X is too big, then explain to me why the A330neo is not selling?
At any rate,
Where in the market would you like to launch a new aircraft?
Bigger than the A330neo you have the 787-10. Further, the A350-900. Smaller and further, the A321-XLR, Less, the 737MAX-10…
Where would you like to do something? They won’t launch anything at Boeing before 2028-2030, and that’s a great decision.
I already explained why the NMA was cancelled!
…So see you next decade
Airbus roiled by poor start to 2023 as industrial pressure grows
By the way: Airbus needs delivery and cash flow too…
The year end delivery rush was complemented by a slow start in the next year. Every year afaics.
Your facts selectivity ( keyhole view) will exclude you from making a valid assessment in any domain.
On real production forecasts we probably better listen to the supply chain, like the Howmett comments in the article above.
BA: 39 order cancelations in one month!! NB Backlog is dropping.
It is hypocritical of you in particular to criticise BCA for not wanting to hear inconvenient truths when you yourselves closed down and deplatformed those of us who criticised elements of the COVID response with actual, evidential truth and as history relates, we have been vindicated..
Policy response to COVID did irreparable damage to this industry yet from advocates of such policy apologies are there none. You thought we would forget such behaviour?
This is a monumental pontification. Applauds to Mr.Hamilton.
I don’t know the guy but by dint of being top salesman Mounir sounds like a good pick to me as should mean he’s very good at relationships and at finessing (to use he horrible phrase) win-wins. Got fingers crossed for him, Boeing and their suppliers.
Lol! You still have a hell of a cheek! I am not shooting at Airbus but highlighting that it too is like Boeing, with its own challenges Already even before “Corona Circus” there were problems in the supply chain at Airbus (2019) What to say then that I have come up with proof, while there are those who post 24/7 articles that are several years old to shoot Boeing and make the connection with the present news sometimes with a distorted reality to argue their old stake.
Where were you to say it? I must have kicked the egos of a few Fanboys here.
Sorry but my intellectual honesty will not be insulted here. So much for the Fanboys 😉
“Sorry but my intellectual honesty will not be insulted here.”
that would require that you grasp what you write.
I cut my finger in the kitchen.
Your head was separated by guillotine.
your accessment: we both have cuts.
Laughing so hard I spilled my coffee
If for you “intellectual honesty” means always shooting Boeing and as long as you don’t spill your coffee, then cheers. But sorry, it’s in your world not ours…
…”Your head was separated by guillotine…”
Not yet !
The only connection I see is that you post unconnected stuff and elevate it to Boeing like issue potential.
Dominik Asam, current Airbus CFO is moving to SAP ( super offer?). A perfect successor has not been found ( a German on parity points preferable).
So the path may be via an interim CFO.
Beyond a case of corporate officers changing …
The difference is that Airbus made record profits, their highest ever, in 2021 and highly likely too in 2022, DESPITE supply issues, because they demand high margins unlike Boeing and because of Boeing.
The issues for Airbus are like going from a ridiculously good situation towards a still very good situation.
Airbus- unlike the oblivious and unaccountably complacent Other Guys- are building a large rainy day fund, as well. Ten billion Euros for it is the figure I’ve seen. They seem to be in a good spot, and I won’t be surprised if they re-wing the A320 series later in this decade as a next move.
The Other Guys, well.. I expect more “Cash Gusher!, real soon!” PR-talk from them, given their previous actions.
What was the free cash flow ? Their idea of high profit level was far lower than Boeings record in 2018 of $19.7 bill
Pretty much sums up everything:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
I don’t think that’s a long term problem. It’s information like any other. On the other hand, the problem of the supply chain also remains at Airbus. You will recognize that
@ A Jones About the question about PE licensing being extended to other engineering disciplines. The history of professional licensing is inconsistent and goes back several centuries. Some professions ended up being licensed because the practitioners wanted it that way to protect their businesses from unqualified competitors who would undercut them with shoddy products at lower prices. That sort of thing has its roots in the medieval guilds except for doctors and lawyers. Medical specialization has its roots in the dim recesses of history, probably going back at least to the Neolithic. Legal specialization has its roots in the Spanish students who organized the founding of the University of Bologna in 1088. Civil engineering licensing, which is where the modern PE has its roots, came out of the two collapses of the Quebec Bridge, first in 1907 and then again in 1916. So PE is really more about the construction trades than other engineering and technical disciplines. The expansion of professional licensing continued up until the WWII, then it pretty much came to a halt. There is a real hostility to its further expansion, especially among conservatives.
Modern engineering involves people with a huge variety of backgrounds. The folks with the PE designation are often very annoyed by this variety. I’m not a PE and my background is pretty varied. But when I made full TF and people started calling me an engineer I went to my STF sponsor and asked for guidance on how I should think about it and respond. He said that based on all that I had accomplished that I shouldn’t be shy about it, and just let people call me whatever made them feel comfortable in so doing. I never use the title or designation myself, but all of my friends and relatives insist on calling me that.
Many people who work on logic related systems, such as systems architecture, have backgrounds that are all over the map. We seem to have quite a few people who studied one of the sciences, some math nerds, a few musicians, and a lot of folks who have lifelong technical hobbies. The variety is surprising – everything from building boats, to clocks, to computers. When we add in human factors specialists, we see a lot of people who studied psychology.
I think adding more licensing would be a good thing. I like the way the accounting profession does it, but of course that’s a strong personal bias of perspective since I went through their process. The AICPA does not require specific training because licensing is done at the state level and controlled by state statutes. They are not uniform. But like the lawyers, accountants have to pass a uniform examination. The education requirements depend on what each state’s statue says, and most reference some sort of collegiate classwork at least some of which cannot be gotten through experience, but this has evolved.
Generally, back in the early 20th century when state licensing statutes were first being written, often in response to some recognized issues that had come up in everyday life, there was some sort of grandfathering process put in place for those who were already practicing and viewed as experts in their fields.
If we were to expand the licensing of technical professionals it would be my suggestion that we should start with systems architects, and not the detail level specialists such as programmers.
EEs started out being about power systems and distribution grids and such, and gradually expanded into board level stuff. But, much of that ends up being logic trees that has as much to do with math as anything else. Also, there is an an academic tension on where in a university the logic classes and professors should hang their hats. Some schools put them in the math department and others put them in with philosophy. And of course, when it comes to network theory, there is the language tension between the Brits and the Americans which complicates things further. I tend to think that if we were to license systems architects that the required curriculum would be a somewhat eclectic thing that spans several departments and might not even stay within the confines of a college of arts and sciences, but might find some of its elements in the applied engineering, computer science, or even the business schools in a few cases. So maybe having some sort of model curriculum based around the content of a uniform examination would be the way to start, and then have a professional society such as the ACM setup some sort of accreditation process. They could design the exam as well. Once the model is in place, then it would be up to each state to pass some enabling legislation, probably with some sort of grandfathering exam that was independent of the education requirement.
That would get the qualifications in place. The next step would be to define what sort of job functions would require the professional certification. This would be hard. Businesses executives would resist it to their dying breath. It would be a centuries long process to gain the kind of control over the profession that the doctors and lawyers have. Accountants have no where near that level of control. Civil engineers have that level of control – sorta. It’s imposed on them by the legislatures in most cases. The only exception that I have encountered is the SAE in Detroit, which has managed to assert pretty good control over the professional requirements of its members.
That was long winded, but it’s about the best I can do in response to your question.
Thanks for the informative response.
@Frank – I think you are right. I include the physical components in the totality of a control system design. I think we have gotten used to only looking at the high level logic diagrams, and thinking that is enough.
In a way, this is the same thing that happened with the MCAS design screw-up, which in my book has still not been properly fixed. The hardware approach was inadequate to implement the control logic.
This gets into the whole business of how much blame should be dumped on systems operators when a failure occurs. To what extent is it reasonable to expect them to understand the physics and materiel situation (Chernobyl) or the cross threading of basic control functions with performance enhancement ones in flight control computers (MCAS)? A whole lot of people like to blame the operators first.
Again, my assertion is that the designer’s goal should be to do everything they can to make the system the operator’s friend and not their enemy when bad things start happening.
I think these things also lead us into a discussion about the licensing, chartering, legislative, and regulatory approaches that should be taken in a free society. Profits are important as they measure market acceptance. But, the social contract that is implicit in business charters and licenses flows from the reality that collectively we can achieve the greatest benefits for all by enabling business enterprises. Society’s biggest interest and benefit from a profitable Boeing is not the rewards that flow into the pension funds that own the stock. At best, that’s secondary. The bigger interest is in the enablement of aerospace transportation for both civilian and defense applications. If those functions are performed well, then the equity participants should be rewarded.
Currently, too many people act as though the point of business is greed on the part of the equity participants, the social contracts be damned. That’s just wrong, even for businesses that don’t produce products, which if done haphazardly, end up killing people. And for businesses that do produce such products and services, that attitude and approach is simply criminal.
“I think we have gotten used to only looking at the high level logic diagrams”
But MCAS is “broken by design” i.e. looking at the toplevels only. ( “single sensor to full flight path control” : The execution only added more errors )
787 batteries similarly started at top level: component insuffieciencies aggravated the issue.
Christ on a Crutch! Any Joe Six-pack on the street
could tell you beforehand that single-sensor MCAS was an insanely stupid design that would certainly
fail.. no need for any fancy-dan systems theorizing.
Yet no one- not even a sacrificial flunky- at Boeing
went to jail. Just remarkable.
Actually, the single sensor part of the MCAS was, in some ways, the least of its problems. The real problem was having all of those functions combined into a single computer running on a single OS instance. The basic flight controls should be in a separate box, and anything that was going on with it should automatically overridden anything coming out of the augmentation box. That issue has still not been addressed.
The MCAS is the end result of a slippery slope series of system design errors. It’s a great example of the Jurassic Park Syndrome.
Thanks for this comment, RTF.
I believe another REALLY bad part of the MCAS design changes for MAX involved the control column switches for STAB TRIM. If my reading and memory serve me: in previous 737 models, one switch cut off automatic inputs (autopilot, etc.), the other cut off all electric power leaving only the (REALLY HARD to operate) manual trim wheel.
In the MAX, both switches simply cut off electric power so there was no way to eliminate the MCAS machinations without having to fight the manual trim wheel. I have to imagine pilots would have had an easier time if they could have cut out MCAS but still drive the STAB with the motor.
Happy to be corrected if I mis-remember this.
Thanks for all the insight . I’m there now and 20 years in . The GE ideology lives on. Today Calhoun’s had a global webex and as usual with all the leadership we came away with more questions than answers and watched as they punted the ball from one to another . Our supply base hates us and frankly don’t care if they support or not . People are not happy and have become quiet quitters . Just like how management squeezed the supply base, now they have turned on their employees to feast on .
Thanks for your comment on Dad, an “Incredible” and much more.
My post was clarification of a typo,1988 which I thought s/b 1998.
Also I should have said “after 1997”.
BTW, Dad had heated words with Harry about non-performance when Harry was at Sundstrand and it went south from there. He was appalled that Harry took over and we had many colorful discussions about the Phil,Harry and Mike Sears debacles.
Thanks. As a young person coming into Boeing one quickly learned what it meant to stand on the shoulders of giants. I still can’t believe the experiences the company gave me. One of my first mentors was one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. It seemed like everyplace one turned there was someone you had read about growing up. And even the most senior people acted like just regular folks and would stop to talk or at least wave to anyone they knew. Walking through the factory with Kerry was like that. It seemed that every few feet he would be exchanging greetings with someone.
And yes, my typing is awful. My high school typing teacher Mr. Fleischman would be appalled. Now cutting me some slack on that, it really is a manifestation of my ADHD. My brain races way ahead of where things are in the present.
…”The difference is that Airbus made record profits, their highest ever, in 2021 and highly likely too in 2022, DESPITE supply issues, because they demand high margins unlike Boeing and because of Boeing.
The issues for Airbus are like going from a ridiculously good situation towards a still very good situation….”
It’s an illuminating comment.
In a normal world with gaps in delivery due to a failing supply chain, are you still doing better?
I would like someone to explain to me with what fairy powder this can be done…
Because it’s Airbus after all?…
You seem to have black and white vision only.
No colors, no grays.
In view of the global material production and flow issues as apparent fall out of Covid some actors cope better than average others fall further down. Obviously Boeing was sitting in a high pressure cooker to begin with but inviting your subcontractors into that scalding environment isn’t really conducive to getting help. Much more fun and money in helping the more cooperative guy.
( I’ve reordered stuff that used to be “of the shelf” available with delivery to be expected far out to 6-9 month. And delivery dates are no longer reliable to any degree.
One marine genset ordered was moved like 787 FF 6 more month in jumps and bouts.)
KC135 and siblings are out warranty, aren’t they?
“The U.S. Air Force has ordered its entire fleet of KC-135 tankers to be grounded for inspection over concerns that their tails could fall off mid-flight if not properly fixed.”
( src: Airforce Times, fox-news, others )
Spirit got a contract for 34 H-Stabs last year. I don’t know what the current rate is on the H-Stab feeder line in Renton, but the 737 and 707 series H-Stabs are nearly identical.
Of course the the real problem here is that the RVS concept on the KC-46 doesn’t work and can’t be made to work due to the human factors issues. The problem is NOT the software or the cameras, but rather the concept and big egos that are unwilling to admit what is obvious.