this past summer, my father in law had a family reunion in Wisconsin.
At the reunion was an engineer, he works at Boeing. I asked him what he
did at Boeing and he was actually a Structural Manager on the Boeing
787. So I asked him straight up, what the hell happened. He said the
biggest issue was the design being done partly in India, partly in
Italy, japan, etc. just like it says below.
He said, many regions just
did not care and just did the minimum to get paid and go home, none had a
sense of pride or a sense that this was "their" design. He said that
things did not come together, analysis were done wrong, mistakes were
rampant, they had to redesign and redesign. It was a joke. Then they put
this Frankenstein thing together and started to run structural testing.
Get this, one of the tests, and this is a biggie, is to put a simple
upward load on the wing. I am talking the static test, not the dynamic
test. They wanted to go to 160% of maximum load but did not make it past
90% and the joint of the wing to the body fractured!!
structural joint, the main one fractured!!!!! I was stunned, how can
they get such a basic thing like the load at this joint and the needed
structure wrong? He said, you think you were stunned, you should have
seen all the managers and directors and the crowd of a couple hundred
people just gasp. They had to act fast to come up with a "band aid" so
the dang wings did not fall off.
This was but one of the more spectacular failures but there are many more. Sad, sad, sad, what are we doing as a country.
The guy who wrote the following is retired from Boeing. Thought you
might find it interesting...... sorta "insider stuff"... but revealing
For one thing the problem may not be with the batteries themselves, but
with the control system that keeps the charge on them at a given level.
And the 'battery problem" is just one problem in many. Last week I had
my regular monthly lunch with 5 fellow Boeing engineers (all but one
retired) and we talked at length about what we call the "nightmare
liner". We all agreed we will not book a flight on one. The one engineer
still working (at age 74) says the news from inside is not good, and
that there are no quick fixes for the multitude of problems that the 787
The disaster began with the merger with McDonnell-Douglas in
the mid 90s. The M-D people completely took over the Board and installed
their own people. They had no experience with commercial airplanes,
having done only"cost-plus" military contracting; and there are worlds
of difference between military and commercial airplane design.
Mulally, a life-long Boeing guy and President of Boeing Commercial
Division was against outsourcing. But instead of making him CEO after he
almost single-handedly saved the company in the early 90s, the Board
brought in Harry Stonecipher from McDonnell-Douglas, who was big on
Stonecipher was later fired for ethics violations. Then the
Board brought in Jim McNerney, a glorified scotch tape salesman from 3M
and big proponent of outsourcing, to develop the 787. (Alan Mulally
left to become CEO of Ford and completely rejuvenated that company.)
McNerney and his bean-counting MBAs thought that instead of developing
the 787 in-house for about $11 billion, they could outsource the design
and building of the airplane for about $6 billion. Right now they are at
$23 billion and counting, three years behind in deliveries, with a
That's typical for military contracting, so McNerney and
the Board probably think they are doing just fine. But it will destroy
Boeing's commercial business in the same way McDonnell wrecked Douglas
when they took over that company decades ago.
Boeing had a
wonderfully experienced team of designers and builders who had
successfully created the 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777 in-house,
always on-time, and mostly within budget, and with few problems at
introduction. That team is gone, either retired or employed elsewhere.
(I took early retirement after the McD takeover of Boeing because I knew
the new upper management team was clueless.)
The 787 was designed
in Russia, India, Japan, and Italy. The majority of the airplane is
built outside the US in parts and shipped to Seattle or Charleston for
Gee, what could possibly go wrong? Answer: just about
everything. Because the M-D people that now run Boeing don't believe in
R&D, the structure of the airplane will be tested in service.
Commercial airplanes in their lifetime typically make ten times as many
flights and fly ten times as many flight hours as military airplanes, so
the argument that composite structure has been "tested" because of the
experience of composite military airplanes is just so much BS. So
structure is a big issue. The 787 is very overweight. The all-electric
controls have the same lack-of-experience issue that the structure has.
The good news for me is that the Boeing pension plan is currently fully
funded, although it may not stay that way as the 787 catastrophe