Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 11. The Program Plan.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

July 9, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Now that we have done the basic market research we should scope the program. To do this we need to understand what aircraft we will develop and to what certification rules.

Our market research tells us to develop a 19 seat aircraft that can operate as a passenger and/or cargo aircraft outside the US and as cargo aircraft in the US. This enables us to certify it to FAA Part 23 and the equivalent rules of other National Aviation Authorities where we want to sell the aircraft.

Figure 1. The new Cessna SkyCourier Cargo/19 seat utility airliner. Source: Cessna.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 4. How safe is safe?

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca

May 21, 2021, ©. Leeham News: After giving an overview of the types of certification rules last week we now describe why the rules can vary so much between projects.

We cover some general concepts around acceptable levels of safety that influence how the regulations get applied to specific projects.

Figure 1. Air vehicles and their classification. Source: Aviation & Flying.

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Update (2): Boeing rehires aircraft inspectors

By Bryan Corliss

May 18, 2021 © Leeham News — The Boeing Co. has quietly recalled at least some of as many as 900 quality control inspectors who were laid off in 2019 as part of a drive to adopt car-industry manufacturing processes in aerospace manufacturing.

The move comes after the union for the inspectors – Machinists District Lodge 751 – pushed the company to prove that getting rid of inspectors could be done without risking quality issues and would actually improve production times.

“Our union’s goal is to save Boeing from making decisions that could be detrimental to (its) future and ours,” union leaders said in its monthly AeroMechanic newsletter. “A second set of eyes is a critical component of building Boeing airplanes and necessary for the long-term success of the company.”

A union spokeswoman said she was unable to say precisely how many of the inspectors were initially laid off, and how many have been brought back since the recalls started. Boeing’s media relations team did not respond to a written list of questions on the topic.

Updated: Boeing provided a written statement that said, in part, that there has been “no reduction in quality staffing related to changes in our inspection approach,” despite reports in 2019 that a new approach to quality control would lead to far fewer human inspections, and inspectors.

Update 2, May 24: Boeing provided additional information today about the reported layoffs of verification inspectors, first reported by The Seattle Times in 2019.

Boeing acknowledged that a former Boeing executive told The Times then that up to 900 inspectors could be laid off that year. It was this 2019 report that formed the basis of LNA’s introductory paragraph.

However, in response to a specific question by LNA, today Boeing said there were no cuts in quality inspectors in 2019.

There were layoffs in 2020, following the eruption of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which occurred during the extended grounding of the 737 MAX. Boeing declined to specify the number.

“We don’t provide details about employment in specific teams,” a spokesman wrote in an email to LNA. “As we’ve said throughout the past year, due to the pandemic’s impact on commercial aviation, we reduced production rates for some of our commercial programs, and our factory employment is directly related to production work statement.”

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 3. Certification rules overview.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

May 14, 2021, ©. Leeham News: The certification rules for different aeronautical vehicles are specific for each airworthiness jurisdiction. It means each country has its own rules for all the categories we listed in the last article. However, with the support of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there is harmonization in many areas, especially around airport and airline operations. For airworthiness rules, most originated from dominant jurisdictions like the US FAA, whose rules have inspired the Canadian and European rules as well as many others. 

As new technologies come to market, or new safety information is learned through testing, accidents, and incidents, the major regulatory agencies of the world constantly adapt with some rules harmonizing across jurisdictions and other rules diverging in different directions. It is an ever-evolving regulatory landscape that supports some of the safest transportation in the world, but it comes at a cost for companies as what was done in the past cannot always be expected to be accepted in the future, and the more global your desired market the more rules you need to understand and the more constraints your design will need to satisfy. 

Figure 1. The EASA certification rules website. Source: EASA.

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