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Eight B787 pulled from service over structural issues

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Eight B787 pulled from service over structural issues

Old 25th Nov 2021, 20:12
  #141 (permalink)  
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Whilst we are seeing a shift in Boeing's approach to the development of a commercial aircraft, what we are also seeing is just how hard it is to design an airliner structure to hit tolerances in disparate factories across the globe.

Having read the articles that are chucking in all sorts of words and phrases that mean something to some of us who are designing, making and building these things, its clear that they are fairly normal problems. In some respects its been blown out of proportion. There are a few things that do worry me in terms of process failure, using technology not being properly monitored/operated , shimming knock down factors etc.

Composites at this scale require larger tolerances and gaps than similar metallic items, and chances are they are harder to close and keep closed. That's what happens when you take your metallic structure and mostly just swap materials. Really needs a totally different approach and thats scary/expensive in the extreme.

As an aside, Airbus isn't that different with the integrator thing and the shifting of immediate technical risk to tiered partners. Its always more fun to bang a desk and point at a missed deadline than wondering how the f you're gonna solve todays inbox full of technical problems. It was a very business oriented direction to take and has only caused problems. It solved nothing.
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Old 25th Nov 2021, 21:46
  #142 (permalink)  
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Are the causes of GE's break-up sufficiently comparable to the causes of Boeing's current dire straits? Saying "poor management and direction", or "bad management and direction", is so general that it doesn't prove they are comparable. ("poor" meaning, you scored 9 on a scale of 90; "bad" meaning you scored poorly plus you got ejected for the next several rounds of competition for misconduct - Boeing of course has both kinds of indictments at present)

Perhaps it will make a significant difference that some time back, Boeing brought in - or at least it said it was doing so - more Board-level experience with the Navy nuclear enterprise. I don't think people with successful careers in nuclear-powered ships in the USN have a bean-counter mentality. The "safety culture" problems couldn't possibly be solved overnight, regardless of what changes are made at the Board and in senior management. (I'm leaving for another day various wild and crazy thoughts about complicity amongst and between certain senior managerial types, and lawyers for the company of various stripes. It was all Forkner's fault, wasn't it?)

About the future prospects of the 787, as just an SLF/attorney, I wonder what the boards of directors of the airlines currently operating the 787 - let's just finesse the situation and say "operating it at levels commensurate with before the pandemic" - would have to say if they ever spoke publicly about seeing the demise of the company, and an inglorious and abrupt end to the aircraft program, as inevitable. Before responsible people call something quits, if the purpose the "something" was supposed to serve still exists and is valid, don't you need "something else" to take its place first? Or is it the case that Airbus can ramp up to a huge extent A350 production and assembly, without delay, difficulties or undue expense?
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Old 26th Nov 2021, 04:39
  #143 (permalink)  
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The GE analogy is far from perfect but I truly believe the decline of 2 industrial greats has a similar origins. That is when new management prioritized profits over everything else. The engineering and production brilliance that the companies history was built on was sacrificed on the alter of stock market dominance.

The trajectory of decline is much further advanced at GE but sadly I see the same path for Boeing. It is a tragedy of management hubris and short sightedness.

With respect to the 787, the programs best days are behind it. Boeing will still make and sell the 787, but it is damaged goods. Every AD, structural limitation, new service life limit etc etc, will cost Boeing as they have to compensate the airlines for an airplane that does not meet its promised in service performance metrics.

Boeing has completely lost the trust of the FAA so the regulator will ride them like a cheap donkey. In service issues that in the past were dealt with in house now get the full stifling government oversight treatment. Each belated admission of an “issue” like the latest one regarding door frame gaps feeds the narrative that Boeing has lost control of production QA.

Airbus is far from perfect, the A320XLR centre fuel tank scam being a good example, but they have seemed to have been able to keep a culture of engineering primacy that has mostly insulated them from the own goal gimme Fu*k ups .like we see at Boeing.

Airlines will now only buy Boeing’s at a steep discount, witness O’Learys smack down of Boeing’s attempt at price discipline on the MAX.

Sadly there is no commercial future for Boeing only fewer sales at smaller and smaller margins while the company is starved of R &D funding because of the costs of reparations for the MAX and 787 costs to airlines
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Old 26th Nov 2021, 08:51
  #144 (permalink)  

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Originally Posted by Less Hair
the MAX. Ungrounded even in China.
CAAC rated friends have no knowledge of this, what's the good news?

Websearch https://airlinegeeks.com/2021/11/25/...n-china-again/ suggest 'strong optimism it will be allowed to fly soon'.
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Old 26th Nov 2021, 08:52
  #145 (permalink)  
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Chinese airlines now can comment on this during a comment period before the grounding formally gets lifted.
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Old 30th Nov 2021, 14:34
  #146 (permalink)  
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Big Pistons Forever

Difficult if not impossible to argue that anything in your post is factually incorrect, or logically unrelated to the pessimistic view you hold . . . perhaps "realistic view" is a fairer, more complete reference.

As related to this SLF/attorney by a long-since retired airline heavy jet captain in the context of what will happen to Boeing after the 737 MAX debacle(s), "Boeing builds airplanes." Well at one point, so too did Willow Run build airplanes (the plant, not . . . .). As they say, past performance does not guarantee future results.

At the same time..... yesterday the Chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, together with the Chairman of its Aviation Subcommittee and another Member of Congress, issued a letter to the FAA Administrator, focused on follow-up issues related to the 737 MAX. Specifically, the letter seeks direct answers to issues concerning the inoperability of the AoA Disagree alert, and to Boeing efforts to downplay the MCAS as a modification to the aircraft. (A link to the letter is posted on the current 737 MAX thread.)

The point I'm reaching for here is that in its conclusion, the letter very clearly points to the problems which have emerged with the 787, as well as the certification program for the 777X, as situations in which the Congressional authorities are expecting FAA to significantly improve its oversight effectiveness. On the one hand, the linkage of these situations by the letter's authors reinforce the point that Boeing is going to be under intense scrutiny for the foreseeable future (which as you indicated will tend to reveal more problems and could make those problems seem more significant than might be necessary).

Yet in searching back through assorted recollections of Congressional oversight follow-up with respect to deeply serious problems within the aviation safety ecosystem (including certification programs), I'm not yet recalling any follow-up with as much focus, directness, and even relentlessness, as witnessed in this current T&I (and Aviation Subcomm.) effort. Maybe the hopes some have had for Boeing to emerge a better and viable company, with Engineers at the key roles and stations, in a window of opportunity made possible by the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act -- maybe those hopes will be positively rewarded.

In the meantime, Mr. Dickson's legal eagles will be, one would guess, pretty engaged for the next few days. Here's the link to the letter:
2021-11-29 - DeFazio-Larsen-Stanton LTR to FAA-Dickson RE Boeing Accountability - Enclosure Included.pdf (house.gov)
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Old 30th Nov 2021, 20:37
  #147 (permalink)  
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Thanks for the link to that letter - a fascinating read. What immediately struck me about it was not the content, but the ludicrous gothic typeface in the letterhead. Do the Congressmen on the Committee think it gives them more credibility or gravitas?

I note that mere flunkies only rate a serif typeface.
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Old 1st Dec 2021, 12:35
  #148 (permalink)  
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India Four Two

Regrettably the legal profession, as well as its next of kin - politics - is full of dividing lines between the mere flunkies, and the Goths.

I'd have to admit that even law firm letterhead, though in far less glaring font and style, also is mostly all about strutting (though the first batch I had with my name and the word "Partner" next to it, was..... well, anyway). But there is an on-thread observation to offer about the over-wrought stationery.

Boeing's health and viability, assessed over a properly defined long term, has been critical for the strength of the U.S. economy; with regard to airline sectors in economies worldwide, its role as a major exporter is widely recognized. But the 737 MAX debacle(s) obviously have had significant negative impact. (For another time perhaps, did Boeing's corporate illness start with a too-smug, almost amatuerish strategy for anticipating the eventual strenuous competition with China? -- I wonder.)

How this relates is, what else, who else in Washington uses wildly pretentious fonts and engravings? Well, the Mint, on the currency, the Mighty Greenback.

Congress uses that letterhead because each Senator and Representative is supposed to be able to comprehend, at least, "for the good of the country." Boeing's present day travails are hurting the U.S. economy, ultimately posing some threat to the soundness of the dollar. But I doubt the lawyers who drafted the letter itself, with or without the addition of the elected officials they work for, can do much to solve that problem.

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Old 1st Dec 2021, 21:00
  #149 (permalink)  
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Willow, do you see the letter taking the heat off Forkner and his attendant court case? The letter seems pretty damning in that covering up the role of MCAS was institutionalized within Boeing, that is, Forkner was acting upon instructions issued from above.
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Old 2nd Dec 2021, 00:09
  #150 (permalink)  
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Yes, to an extent.
The letter, plus the larger background fact of the Committee's relatively intense focus upon unearthing the facts, will be useful for Forkner's defense, and possibly very useful.
The centrality at the corporate level of the goals Forkner had, with regard to minimizing the MCAS and training needs etc., is difficult to over-state. He happened to draw attention to these goals with notable terminology, but indeed the goals were institutionalized and at the heart of the 737 MAX program from its outset. Not decisions that he made or participatrd in.
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Old 4th Dec 2021, 14:16
  #151 (permalink)  
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Reported by Flight Global, FAA has issued two ADs (Airworthiness Directives), available publicly as of 3 December, following on to inspections it had proposed in May. As reported, the ADs were “prompted by reports that shimming requirements were not met during the assembly of certain structural joints, which can result in reduced fatigue thresholds” as well as resulting in cracking of some structural joints.

“Fatigue cracking… could weaken primary structure so it cannot sustain limit load" (the article further attributes to the ADs). As reported, one AD requires airlines to inspect “for cracking of certain areas of the aft wheel well bulkhead body chord and… side-fitting and fail-safe straps, and repair of any cracking found”. The other “requires repetitive inspections for cracking of certain areas of the front spar pickle fork and front spar outer chord, and repair”.

Not least, the article notes, however dryly, that the "Chicago airframer" says it “'has determined that these are not immediate safety-of-flight issues'” (Boeing quote exactly as in original).
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Old 4th Dec 2021, 17:14
  #152 (permalink)  
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Well, it appears that according to Boeing PR, any issue with the company’s airplanes are, by definition, not a safety issue. The FAA should completely dissolve the Boeing ODA. There are other ways, historically, to provide effective delegation of certification tasks with substantial, independent technical engineering oversight. It needs to be accomplished by trusted parties.
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Old 9th Dec 2021, 14:35
  #153 (permalink)  
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Negative impacts on schedule planning

"American Airlines to Reduce International Flights Due to Boeing Dreamliner Delays" (The Wall Street Journal, A. Tangel, Dec. 9)

Relying on people reportedly familiar with the matter - as well as a draft internal memo made available to the WSJ - it is being reported that American has canceled plans for international flights next summer, because of ongoing delays with delivery of the 787s it has ordered and for which it is awaiting delivery. At least, it is not being reported that the carrier "was" expecting delivery but has given up - although the article does report that Boeing has approached unnamed airlines about possibly taking delivery of airplanes the orders for which could get canceled. (Kind of very much along the lines of what earlier posts (IIRC, Big Pistons) have projected....)

What is reported about American, though, is troubling enough:
"American won’t fly to Edinburgh; Shannon, Ireland; or Hong Kong next summer, and will reduce the frequency of flights to Shanghai, Beijing and Sydney, according to the memo viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The carrier isn’t bringing back seasonal flights to Prague or Dubrovnik, Croatia, and it is delaying the launch of certain routes, such as from Seattle to Bangalore, India, which it had announced before the pandemic hit.
“'Without these wide-bodies, we simply won’t be able to fly as much internationally as we had planned next summer, or as we did in summer 2019,' Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer, wrote in the draft internal memo." (internal quotation as in original)

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Old 9th Dec 2021, 14:40
  #154 (permalink)  
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The cynic in me thinks that AA are seeking to reduce loss-making flights AND claim compensation from Boeing.
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Old 9th Dec 2021, 19:10
  #155 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Maninthebar
The cynic in me thinks that AA are seeking to reduce loss-making flights AND claim compensation from Boeing.
I tend to agree - with the additional aspect that they don't have flight crew for those flights as well. American has been cancelling domestic flights due to lack of flight crews.
Most of the US based carriers are running into flight crew issues - some may remember that Delta and others were predicting a pilot shortage a few years ago (before COVID cutbacks) as large numbers of pilots reached the 65 year old mandatory retirement. COVID made it even worse when some older (but well less than 65) pilots chose to retire to help the operators avoid pilot layoffs.
I was in LAX a few days ago. Busy, but international traffic was still lacking.
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Old 10th Dec 2021, 04:02
  #156 (permalink)  
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There’s an excellent and very objective Aviation Week podcast available right now. The interviewees also discuss the problems that Airbus is having with composite structures. I was left with the impression that the 787 shimming issue has as much or more to do with the problems associated with building a large aircraft utilizing a new material, than it does with quality control.
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Old 13th Dec 2021, 22:08
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Senate Whistleblower Report

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Maria Cantwell (D. - WA) has released today two important documents pertaining to whistleblower complaints about Boeing. One is a report on whistleblower complaints and concerns, and the second is a letter to FAA Administrator Dickson summarizing the report and providing context for it. The report, as made available on the Senate Committee website, is a set of links to various documents. According to today's news reports (on various platforms) some of these contents have been known publicly prior to today - and some are newly revealed.

For the report and Sen. Cantwell's letter:
3EA0337B-F3D0-493E-A1CE-E2F16D4EF971 (senate.gov)

26D989AC-E56E-41D4-B6EA-032DD14229B9 (senate.gov)
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