You’ve probably seen or heard some reports over the past couple of days implying that we’ve had to get “back to the drawing board” on the 787 modifications.

Don’t believe it.

As 787 vice president and general manager Scott Fancher told employees on Friday, the reports that we’ve had to somehow redesign part of the side-of-body modification solution are “off base.”

On the contrary, the design of the side-of-body solution is on track, Scott said. Installations of the fittings are proceeding well and the program is pleased with the progress.


ZA002 inside the temporary structure on the Everett Flight Line where it’s undergoing the side-of-body modification.

In addition, and also in contrast to what you may have read, we remain on track to fly the Dreamliner by the end of the year.

We’ve talked here before about the proliferation of Web sites and blogs that often peddle supposed breaking news from “sources.” And once again, while there are many industry writers, journalists, and analysts who provide valuable contributions, the challenge is always going to be distinguishing rumor from fact, authoritative from hearsay.

As we’ve pointed out, Boeing will communicate to the public in order to provide updates and definitive explanations of what we’re doing. For example, we expect to provide more context around the side-of-body fix during our earnings report on October 21st.

Until then, I would suggest using a critical eye when consuming second hand news.

Comments (31)

Ankih Fre:

Good. I have been seeing these 'rumors'. Hopefully this is the last delay of the first flight.

rebecca vanderbilt (santa clara, ca):

I've heard the same affirmation from Boeing over and over. However, almost every single time, the so-called bloggers that you dismissed have been right.

Would you or anyone at Boeing be willing to put your job on the line and stand by this affirmation?? I strongly doubt it. In fact, I'm willing to bet a lot of money Boeing is suffering yet another delay.

Chris GIBSON (Australia):

Good to see you reacting so quickly to the rumors regarding the side fix Randy, To use an Australian phrase I am amazed that so many are quick to “put the boot in” to Boeing.

The 787 is an huge leap forward in design and no one should be surprised that a few problems have come to light in its development. We all want to see this bird fly and put to rest some of the stupid statements of some so called experts. QANTAS - The world's oldest operating Airline (sorry KLM but you have merged) has stated that its future expansion plans are with the 787 and A380. Can't wait to see the 787 in Australian skies.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Hearsays and rumours are a common discussion on A-net, people discuss their doubts. When the news was released of the body repairs, some bloggers assumed immediately that the 787 will not fly this year and it would be delayed a couple of months and this is how assumptions turn into rumours.

Though rumours on A-net are immediately brought to attention by fellow bloggers if not the moderators, misinformation can still spread by this one or any other blog or publication that is less responsive to correcting rumours.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):


Unfortunately, this kind of thing really catches fire exceedingly quick in times where a company has been having trouble. And, of course, it's the hits - for the advertising revenue these sites will generate. This kind of thing needs to be treated for what it is. I'm sure Boeing has its best working on the side-of-body issue.

P.Sumantri (France):

Your view about the proliferation of Web sites, blogs and other similar things is correct. I, for instance, participate in the proliferation of this blogs. But I clearly indicate that the content of my blogs are merely personal opinions and not facts.

Perhaps blogs should clearly mention its nature: Rumours, Gossips, Celebrities or others. This way readers are not confused by what is written inside.

By the way, you can visit my blog here:
http: //

Tom (Germany):

Randy, come on - be fair!
Boeing is supporting rumors:

1. End of May 2009: Body side problems known
2. Paris Airshow: First flight end of the month
3. One week before the scheduled flight: No first flight

Is there any excuse?

"Congratulation" that Boeing was able to tape the mouths of their employees for 3(?) years!

These delays cost money and jeopardize the employees's jobs with Boeing and their futures!
How often did they say to their kids: The 787 flies next month!

Nicolas (Canada):

Bloggers have more credibility than Boeing.

David (Virginia):

Sorry Randy, but you have no one to blame but yourselves. And I think you know this.

Or has the culture at Boeing deteriorated to the point that none of the leadership have any real knowledge of the current status.

From first roll-out until now, you've continued to mis-represent the status of this product.

Now you wonder why people don't believe you anymore???

It's sad the Boeing has come to this.

James Manfredi (Guilford, CT):

Thanks Randy. It's been a difficult task combating the skeptics in some of the forums associated with 787. I find it amazing to me how "on track to fly this year" has turned into "a failure of the wing/body join fix."

Those of us who have a more realistic view of the problems associated with building the world's first mostly composite airliner are putting in a full effort to combat these naysayers. I'm afraid some are hell bent on making the project look bad in the eyes of your customers.

You and I both know your clients are happy with the project thus far and are looking forward to having 787 a part of their long term fleet. It will be a happy partnership indeed.

Jerry (New York City):

You know what skepticism you are dealing with. It has been Boeing's failures and the handling of information that has contibuted to the doubts about its statements.

We should all appreciate the difficulty of making predictions but then explanations should suffice but that has not been adequately conveyed.

Frustration breeds these responses and only some definitive accomplishment will start to dispel them. Otherwise, words have not satisifed.




Erin (Denver, Colorado):

It seems like Boeing is trying to cover up another mistake with the 787...why should anyone trust you again?

Joshua Lyman (Haverford, Pa):

Totally agree on the "blog proliferation": some bloggers play a dubious game of mixing up facts, personal opinion and rumours.

On the other hand, Boeing's communication on the progress of the 787 has been a failure. Hopefully for Boeing, it is just a communication failure rather than successive and regular engineering mishaps and discoveries that "this" or "that" on the 787 designs were and still are "unknown unknowns."


In 32 years at this company is shocks me that the leadership will actually give formal credence by responding to "rumors" (non management disseminated information).

A old saying is that if a person responds to a statement, then that statement has validity!!!

So the track record of the communication specialists, writing the speeches for the leadership is deserving of some real recognition.

Everyone should be doing their jobs, to generate sales for job security, not sales of newspaper or tv advertising!

So in closing, "rumors" get validity by default, when the information from the leadership turns out to be less then accurate, with no follow up from the leadership on the process improvement, just another announcement that turns out to be less than accurate, again.

David (Mizoram, Asia.):

Rumors against Boeing B-787????

It reminds me that B-787 have serious rival which would like to see the B-787 down to its knees at all cost.

We all must remember that Boeing does not choose to build the B-787 on composites because its easy but because it gives a technology and performance of a generation ahead of today's planes.

Thanks for reassuring the Boeing Fans all over the world again, Randy.

Though sadly, I am sure that I shall never have the privilege to be on board the B-787, I'm still a dedicated fan of it, cause it paves the way for the aircraft which I expect the privilege to be on board one day, the Boeing Y1.

J.D. Drollinger (Renton, Wa. ):

I have all the faith in the leadership at Boeing. and I am very new to this new world of blogging. But it looks like we have a much bigger problem here at Boeing than the 787 and it's schedule.

James Robinson (Long Beach Ca):

The problem is, Boeing now has a credibility problem on the 787. That credibility problem began on the day the 787 rolled out when Mike Bair said it would make its scheduled first flight.

Since that occasion more times than I care to count Boeing has said everything is roses right up until they admit to problems. Then, when they admit to problems, they understate the problems. I am not saying you are not correct this time. But, Boeing's credibility has been damaged on this program over the last 2 1/2 years.


I can imagine what a difficult position you are in.

Needing to respond to "rumours" is a testimony to how much pressure Boeing must be having and how much credibility Boeing has lost.

However I see the same old tone here with no engineering data to substantiate the rumours to be false. Quoting some executive probably makes things worse.

Ralph Semmes Jackson III (Everett, WA ):

Given the history of missed dates, I have a suggestion. Don't announce a date for first flight; just do it. Once everything is ready, the Dreamliner takes off and heads south over the sound. After takeoff, call the Seattle TV stations and suggest they look out the window.

I am sure there is no shortage of twitchy photographers watching the runway to capture the moment.

Ron B (Mesa, AZ, USA) (Mesa, Arizona, USA):

All those who are working with the side of body modification program, should all be shown the negative talks regarding the modification program.

They all then need to hold their heads up high and use the negative talk as fuel to fire up their desires and actions in completing the modification on time or before and without errors to finally allow the 787 to meet the first flight obligations without further delays and to silence once and for all, all of the negative talkers out there.

Tell all the side of body modification workers to keep up the good work!

Dave (Renton, WA):

I can't help but notice that the official company statement says that the "design of the side-of-body solution is on track", while the "installations of the fittings are proceeding well."

How can the installations be proceeding well if the design is still not finished? Sounds like there just might be more credibility to the "second hand news" than you are admitting to. Announcing plans to lay off 300 flight test personnel at the start of what should be one of the busiest times for flight testing also does not seem like a particularly favorable omen. Which track are we really on?

Dave (Atlanta, GA):

To reiterate what others have said, the reason this "rumor" has legs is the previous lack of credibility by Boeing in regard to this program. No need to list all the slipped dates so far, which all started as "rumors" on those sites only to be later confirmed by Boeing.

Maybe this "rumor" is wrong. For Boeing's sake, I sure hope so. So far, Boeing's record has really stunk in this regard.

By the way, I am (was?) a huge fan of this program. I remember staying home with my daughter on July 8, 2007, to watch the rollout on DirecTV. I was amazed, had chills seeing such a beautiful aircraft....then found out that the plane rolled out was scarcely more than a hollow shell. I remember hearing how the 787 would fly within a few months of the rollout. That was nearly 2.5 years ago.

Randy, I hope you are right about the rumors...this time.

Chris C (South Africa):

I would tend to agree, in part, with one of the comments here that Boeing really shouldn’t be seeing a need to “dignify” the rumours, so to speak, by issuing a response to the rumours circulating once again in the blogosphere.

Rumours are generated usually by the most ill-informed “sources”/people and often the rumours turn out to be completely unfounded. I’m sure the rumours of “side-of-body” modification problems are just rumours and after reading Boeing’s responses, and with everything that’s occurred in the past, I’m pretty confident that all is in order with the 787.

Even if there were “issues” with the modification, they were probably resolved long before certain bloggers obtained the skewed information. As even you have said Randy, “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.”

Understandably, the “issues” with the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner are of a sensitive nature, and considering all the major setbacks and disappointments the program has faced, despite times of reward and excitement, I would guess that any rumour needs to also be quashed as we’re at a very critical time of the program as first-flight nears.

I would think its imperative now that everyone gives the Boeing teams working on the 787 every bit of support and understanding, not to mention breathing space, as they are preparing to bring the world’s most revolutionary, game-changing and technologically advanced commercial airplane to the market.

P.Sumantri (France):

I think a rumor is just fine as long as it remains a rumor.

The problem with this specific rumor is that some people tried to get more information directly from Boeing. I can imagine that phone lines and cellulars of several Boeing officials were saturated. And if you take into account the many-many inquiry emails they received, this rumor became a burden.

So, perhaps it is not so bad that Mr Fancher and Mr Tinseth responded to this rumor. After all, it stopped the burden of responding to silly inquiries individually.

Last but not least, there are less than 74 days left before New Year's eve. So, be patient. We'll know the truth soon.
http: // Countdown to New Year

Matt (everett, wa):

I have worked with, and repaired alot of composite material in the last few years. Its not an easy material to work with.

Nobody has ever built anything even close to that large with the stuff and delays should have been expected from the get go. Boeing is trying to build something solid out of something that acts like a wet noodle, not an easy task, but I believe they will push through and make a great airplane out of the 787 yet.

Now ignore the critics and get that bird in the air, cuz everybody who works at Boeing won't have a job much longer if it doesn't fly.

A.(Aria) Mirzazadeh (Bellevue):

787 is a "Break Through" in Aviation History and not just an Incremental advance.

With Break Through comes major challenges such as delays but the fruit of such challenges are great opportunity.

Brian (Ashburn, VA USA):

I'm a Boeing fan and I believe in the potential of the 787 to be a game changing airplane. That being said I think Boeing management still fails to grasp that they have absolutely zero credibility.

I can't think of a major Boeing project (Wedgetail, 787, 747-8, P-8, KC767 etc.) that hasn't been delayed or suffered major setbacks. Given all the declarations that all is well which have been followed by further major problems it would appear that senior leadership at Boeing doesn't have a clue what is going on with their products. The delays to the 787 and Italian 767 tanker are especially egregious in this regard.

In my view senior leadership at Boeing faces two major challenges. First figuring out why they can no longer deliver a product on time and on spec and fixing those issues. Second figuring out how and why they could lose all contact with the reality of where these programs stood.

In the meantime Boeing must recognize that no-one will believe anything they are saying about these programs until they can start actually delivering on their promises. Until it enters service and starts delivering on its promise the 787 will remain nothing more than vaporware.

It pains me to paint such a bleak picture of Boeing but much like an alcoholic who needs to hit rock bottom before he can begin the road to recovery Boeing needs to face reality before it can start the road to fixing the major problems that have led it to where it is today.

Alessandro (EU):

Well, lets hope for the industry as a whole, that B787 don´t end up next to B2707 as would be "game-changers".

Keith (Ottawa, ON, Canada):

Less than 60 days before the New Year. I am waiting for a press release from Boeing 'adjusting' their flight test schedule for first flight in 'early 2010', followed by another press release for 'mid 2010', followed by another news item with first flight in 'late 2010'.....

And that's just first flight. We won't talk about the weight issues, production challenges, etc. I've cheered for this program for a long time. But no longer.

Keith (St. John's, NL Canada):

Any thought to the new Bombardier cs300, the stretched version of the cs100 now undergoing testing? If it is delivered by 2016 and can result in the significant fuel savings Bombardier promises, would it make sense for Boeing to make an attempt to buy Bombardier? Saves lots of time and money for a possible replacement for the 737-8.

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