The Boeing 787 Dreamliner: "an object lesson in how not to build an airplane."


Wed, Jan 30th, 2013 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, considered a technological marvel with its modern construction, carbon-fibre composite structure and ability to use 20% less fuel than other airplanes, has been plagued with so many problems that has now been grounded by regulators from around the world because of faulty batteries. This article on The New Yorker by James Surowiecki looks at how this plane has become an object lesson in how not to build an airplane.

To understand why, you need to go back to 1997, when Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas. Technically, Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas. But, as Richard Aboulafia, a noted industry analyst with the Teal Group, told me, "McDonnell Douglas in effect acquired Boeing with Boeing's money." McDonnell Douglas executives became key players in the new company, and the McDonnell Douglas culture, averse to risk and obsessed with cost-cutting, weakened Boeing's historical commitment to making big investments in new products. Aboulafia says, "After the merger, there was a real battle over the future of the company, between the engineers and the finance and sales guys." The nerds may have been running the show in Silicon Valley, but at Boeing they were increasingly marginalized by the bean counters.



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