787 inspections prioritized

Flight test is a constant balancing act and we’ve made a decision that will result in us not flying 787s for a couple of days.

After finding a workmanship issue on the horizontal stabilizer of an airplane in final assembly, we decided that we needed to inspect all airplanes to ensure they are in compliance with our design.

This includes the flight test airplanes.

ZA002 and ZA003 had been scheduled to fly Thursday. But as we do every day in flight test, we look at our priorities and change our plans.

So we decided that the best course to follow is to conduct inspections in order to find out what rework, if any, is required on those airplanes.

As you’ve seen over the years at Boeing, and over the last several months in particular on the 787 program, we’re dedicated to doing the right thing - and that isn’t always to prioritize the day’s schedule.

The overall program schedule can accommodate the inspection process and the required rework without jeopardizing our delivery commitment.

It’s disappointing to find workmanship issues. We’ll do root cause analysis and make the necessary changes to ensure these issues never find their way into the production flow again.

In the meantime, we’ll do what we always do - understand the situation and react accordingly.

Comments (13)

Daniel Tsang (Hong Kong):

To be honest, I was scared and shocked this morning when I woke up, only realized what was happening in the US over this 787 issue.

Only after contacting my friends and source did I realize that this issue was overblown by unprofessional media reports.

The media stance was just as disappointing as the 787 quality issue itself, if not more.

Will Boeing keep us updated after the inspection?

Clarity is preferred, especially to the financial community.

Jerry1t (New York City):

There is some confusion as to extent of the stabilizer issue as reported by you and several other sources, including the WSJ.

You are indicating that a problem was found on one of the planes undergoing final assembly.

The press is reporting or insinuating that the problem exists widely on completed planes, including the test planes.

Could there be some clarity offered here. You are giving the impression that the extent is unknown and the test planes are being held from flying so as to inspect each one to establish which planes are or are not affected.

The press is indicating that it will take 8 days to repair those planes with a problem. Lets hope they are few and far between. But more clarity would be assuring.

JohnPatrick Meehan (Philadelphia Ridley Park Pa USA):

I have a important question - here in Ridley we have a inspection process called MSE manufacture self examination. With all the years working on CH-47"s tribal knowledge rules. It may not be right but that is the way it is. I as a Aircraft Assembler wanted quality to check my work so I am wondering were installation of shims and torqueing of fasteners along with Horizontal Stabilizer a MSE job or was there a inspection point in the plan? If these jobs were MSE I think that we need to take a long look at this process.

Gloria Pelous (Huntington Beach, CA):

Another shinning example of WHY Globalization for the sake of profit, or PC, is VERY costly! It may be cheaper labor,& more profit, however, most often you get what you pay for, JUNK! I hope some smarts FINALLY flow upwards to the decision makers & they see the error of their profit now, pay later thinking!
Boeing has been building quality Airplanes for how long???? I hope the adage of ..If it ain't broke, you don't fix it! WAKE UP boyz! THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE!!!
Thank the Boeing employees, who KNOW how to build QUALITY Airplanes, that found this bad workmanship! They should be highly applauded for the lives that they have saved!

Daniel Tsang (Hong Kong):

@ Gloria Pelous:

I just think you've overplayed this issue.

Boeing is learning and improving its quality control system.

Multinational firms' business models are sound, the computers & mobile phones that you're using are probably made in China (Aren't they?).

What's important is the QC system, and I'm sure Boeing will learn its lesson from this issue.

Vero Venia (France):

Quite frankly, it would be highly suspicious if you didn't find anything during the test stage.

You uncover an issue then:
1. take immediate action to minimize the possible consequences of the issue
2. understand the issue
3. solve the issue
4. put in place a process to prevent the issue to occur in the future.

I think it's all about good sense.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

I first found out about the problem on the Yahoo front page, I am glad this problem is only localized on two aircraft and not every 787 as it might have been thought initially. In dealing with the construction and maintenance of an aircraft especially with a new aircraft type the overview and checking off the work is vitally important.

MAC (Seattle, Washington, US):

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort. The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten" --- John Ruskin

We're getting some of the bitterness from our partner in Europe - hopefully only temporarily.

Kinbin (Taipei TW):

@Gloria
The source of the manufacturing glitch is Italy, not a sweatshop in Asia nor Africa. BTW, low cost sweatshops in Asia are fast diminishing, thanks to globalization as well.

Italy is not exactly a low cost base. The iconic symbols of Italian exports found in CA dont come across as cheap, vis-a-vis, Ferrari, Bugatti, etc. Their engineering aint exactly shoddy either.

Rather, its their discipline and adherence to systems that may be lacking. Until the root cause is determined, it remains guess-timates at this point.

As to the experience, many do not doubt the rich skillsets at Boeing's legacy facilities. The total cost of business at the legacy facilities, though, have become prohibitively high, and direct wages are playing only a minor role.

Job opportunities continue to abound if experienced folks are willing to abandon the union structure, and relocate to other new sites in-country and around the world, at wages that are close to or better than current but without the perceived security of a union safety-net. That said, one with rich experience and great attitude ought not to fear over a jobless scenario.

Daniel Tsang (Hong Kong):

ZA002 and ZA003 flew last night.

According to my knowledge of the matter, both ZA002 and ZA003 have already been inspected.

Since Boeing had said the 787 can fly under reduced scope, but then it nevertheless decided to "reschedule the next test flight"; does that mean the composite shims on the ZA002 and ZA003 were correctly installed?

I guessed this since the ZA002 and ZA003 were to fly under TOL, Boeing would have elected to continue its rework plan first.

Could you please provide any updates?

Todd:

Its interesting to me how many people want to make this an issue of Union vs. Non Union etc. Being in a Union or being Union built does not guarantee quality. Being employed over a long period of time and seeing everything and learning does. Using this issue to show why these planes should be all Union built misses and obfuscates the real issue - which is what I want to learn about.

Stephen Jessup (Everett, WA):

Well they're flying now. I just saw one take off. Not sure which L/N it was...

Ken Janicki:

The 787 Dreamliner is thoughtfully designed by the best engineers in the world. The aircraft assembly instructions are carefully reviewed and revised as often as needed. Working to assemble this aircraft is the greatest opportunity I have ever been afforded. The 787 aircraft is the first of its kind. The people of Boeing love what they do and will endure to the aircraft safety and market success. Ken Janicki Boeing South Carolina.


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