13 July 2013

Bummer of a Birthmark, Boeing

A Boeing 787 caught fire at Heathrow, though there are no indications that batteries are involved:
Investigators classified the fire that broke out on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked at London's Heathrow airport as a "serious incident" but have found no evidence it was caused by the plane's batteries, Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said on Saturday.

The question of whether the fire was connected to the batteries is crucial because the entire global fleet of Dreamliners, Boeing's groundbreaking new flagship jet, was grounded for three months this year due to battery-related problems.

The AAIB designation fell just short of a full-blown "accident" on the scale it uses to describe investigations. The agency's preliminary probe is expected to take several days, opening up Boeing to more questions about its top-selling plane.
When Boeing decided that it would be a good idea to outsource most of its expertise to "risk sharing partners", it was pretty much inevitable.

As I noted 2 years ago in the case of Dell Computer, this is penny wise and pound foolish:
So the decline of manufacturing in a region sets off a chain reaction. Once manufacturing is outsourced, process-engineering expertise can’t be maintained, since it depends on daily interactions with manufacturing. Without process-engineering capabilities, companies find it increasingly difficult to conduct advanced research on next-generation process technologies. Without the ability to develop such new processes, they find they can no longer develop new products. In the long term, then, an economy that lacks an infrastructure for advanced process engineering and manufacturing will lose its ability to innovate.
Boeing's problems are further complicated by the fact that its partners did not have the time to develop the expertise to do the job right, so now we have a troubled airliner where the sum of the parts is less than the whole.


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