06 January 2008

Under the covers - things still not good with the 787

So there I was over Christmas and chatting with some friends who include a number of Boeing workers.

Seems like things are not good with the 787 - yet.

Specifically "partner" quality and the Software interface are the oft cited reasons. To this I think we can add the fastener problem.

A member of the team of guys who is actually sitting there with the bits of plastic (aka parts) delivered was very vocal in his disgust with the program. Nor was he confining his vent on just the subcontractors alone. Boeing was never a good one with its software and it offloaded that group prior to the commencement of the 787 program proper.

For the neophytes (me included) it is normal for any manufacturer to have a staging area where they fix the parts that come in from external vendors or suppliers and make them fit into the final production area. Normally this is a relatively straightforward process. However in the case of the 787 it has turned into a nightmare of almost biblical proportions. It is a worst case scenario.

The production drawings (actually its all in CATIA) don't match the production delivery items. CATIA, the Dassault Systèmes flagship PLM solution is supposed to make this all better.
The material delivered doesn't match the drawings as they exist. Changes in design seem to be occurring all the time so the "production" aircraft configuration is really not "frozen" in the sense we are used to. We wont see that until probably 20 or so aircraft have gone down the line.

The big impact here is that we should take with a grain of salt that Boeing will make the delivery schedule. I think they will be taking a fair amount of time to catch up.

However I have faith in Boeing's ability to fix this. I just don't know for sure if I want to be flying in an early model JAL or ANA 787.

So lets just hope that things work out well all round. However for now... there is one HECK of a lot overtime being put in by a certain number of engineers and key workers in Everett. Best of luck chaps....


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