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The Boeing Company Message Board

  • enigma002001 enigma002001 Aug 24, 2009 2:01 PM Flag

    Boeing's Problem

    I do not hold stock in Boeing, never worked for Boeing, never dealt with Boeing. I'm an aviation enthusiast with no dogs in this hunt.

    So what do I think are the issues at Boeing?

    Management vs Union: Neither entity has the overall Boeing well being at heart. The union striking last fall when the 787 and the economy were in trouble sends a very bad message regardless for the reasons for striking. Both parties have such obvious hate for each other that the waters are poisoned (maybe permanently). If I had to bet, Boeing will move as much manufacturing and assembly out of Everett as fas as they possibly can. If that happens, Boeing will eventually arrive at lower assembly costs per airplane. The cost of the learning curve, however, may be too steep to endure.

    Outsourcing - being a supply chain professional, I've seen both sides of this. Clearly, Boeing took this approach on the 787 to try to lower labor costs. Trying to outsource a new technology such as carbon fiber commercial aircraft structures was a high risk, high reward move. Unfortunately, the risk outweighed the reward. The union needs to understand why Boeing took the approach and take a competitive approach to win Boeing manufacturing back. While the unions do have an excellent quality background, a total cost solution arrived with a vendor mentality would be a unique and winning approach, in my opinion.

    Time estimates for new technology - in my experience, whenever you launch something in new technology, take the best estimate of time and materials and then double it. That will end up being close. That is what is playing out here.

    The 787 will be a successful aircraft leading the new wave in carbon fiber composite applications. The damage to the management vs labor relations, however, will not heal unless BOTH parties come to the table with a new and honest attitude. Forget the past, appreciate each others hopes while understanding that customers care only about getting a great aircraft at the best possible price. If management and labor fail to learn how to compete together, Boeing will end up building aircraft anywhere but Washington state.

    That's how I see it. Let the debate begin.

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