As we get closer to the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner, clearly there’s going to be more and more focus on day-to-day, if not minute-to-minute progress. It’s the first new airplane program where we’ve seen the full effects of “new media” or “social media” coverage.
Forums and sites are proliferating - ranging from fan and hobbyist pages to journalist blogs and everything in between – chronicling even the most obscure details gleaned from “sources.”
Web sites and blogs focused on commercial aviation are nothing new. We’ve been discussing commercial aviation through this blog for more than four years now. There are many experienced industry writers, journalists, and analysts who provide pertinent commentary through Web sites and other media. They add to the discourse and make the industry all the more interesting and exciting.
The challenge is distinguishing those sources and pages from the various blogs, Twitters and other sites which sometimes position themselves as authoritative – but really are not.
Even the most informed outsiders frequently lack comprehensive and direct knowledge of what’s happening at Boeing - including about our development programs, the 787 and 747-8.
Unfortunately, the seemingly insatiable appetite for any information about those programs has given rise to Web postings and social media sites that distribute rumors or details without ample – or sometimes any – of the context that would aid understanding of what’s really going on. Some of these sites use official sounding titles and designs in an attempt to enhance their credibility.
We’ve seen many examples of “exclusive” postings claiming to have just heard certain information from “sources.” These reports often claim to have inside information about our production plans or progress, orders, deliveries, cancellations, or development program milestones - that often turn out to be incorrect.
Airplane development programs are inherently complicated. What may seem like a major issue today is often fully resolved by tomorrow. Without the context that often can come only from a comprehensive program or company view, incorrect or incomplete information can be circulated as conclusion and fact when it is not. That helps nobody.
That’s why Boeing strives to communicate to the public when we’ve analyzed our data and reached truly informed conclusions, so we can provide definitive explanations of what’s happening. By the way, we’re also governed by securities laws and regulations that dictate how we disclose significant events.
So a bit of a “buyer beware” is in order. Shop carefully when it comes to the information you consume on the Web. Especially when that information has not come from a truly authoritative source.