Boeing: Bring back Alan Mulally

They should never have let him go to Ford. He is the kind of talent they need.

He certainly can do better than what they have.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Mulally

Mulally left Boeing because he was passed over for the top job, twice. They passed him over in favor of Stonecypher, when Condit was tossed. Then they passed him over again when Stonecypher was tossed for McNerney, who brought Welchism full force to the company.

Steve

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Everyone wants to know how these guys can be so “unlucky.”

Seems like they can hardly tie their own shoe laces!!

To become top brass you‘ve to keep your focus on what really counts:

Analysts stayed bullish on Boeing (BA) and Spirit AeroSystems (SPR) Monday, calling the stock tumble that followed the Federal Aviation Administration’s grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft a buy opportunity.

https://www.investors.com/news/boeing-stock-spirit-still-a-buy-with-analysts-unfazed-by-737-max-9-grounding/

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It probably is, at least in the short term.

I suspect this problem is going to turn out to be an assembly quality issue, not the design issue that brought us 737 MAX planes falling out of the sky. Yes, they both represent management failures, but the first had a terribly costly redesign of an entire system, while this appears to be something that will be cured by inspections and correction in the field, that only require grounding the aircraft for a few days to as much as a couple of weeks.

I’ve heard another commentator mention elsewhere that this same door design was used on other Boeing aircraft, and they have had zero problems with it over many years. That tends to point toward a good design that was assembled poorly.
At least that is what it seems to be at the moment.

–Peter

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Let’s hope whoever skipped the rivets (as no one will notice) only did one plane.

Let’s hope he or she has been reassigned or fired!!!

United has the same planes, and they’ve found 5 with loose or missing fasteners in that door plug. Unfortunately, that sounds like a systemic assembly problem, and not one person having a bad day on the assembly line.

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Can also be inadequate supervision. Labor shortage. Or end of shift.

Bottom line is sloppy management.

United and Alaska have both found loose bolts on those door plugs. So the next reasonable question: how many more poorly assembled bits on those planes? Shoddy assembly and pencil whipping inspections were so rampant at the 78 plant that the FAA took over performing the inspections itself.

Steve

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My guess is there are a lot. There have been other instances of initial quality problems very soon after delivery of the planes.

They should probably take over inspections at every Boeing plant.

–Peter

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United has found 5 planes with the issue. Alaska airlines has, well, at least one. This is not “a sloppy guy on the line” or “Friday syndrome”, this is some kind of design issue - design either in how the bolts work or how they are attached. You don’t have one guy failing to do his job over and over and over on a project this big; heck, if you’ve ever seen the assembly line for such things there are multiple crews on multiple shifts poring over the carcasses, and with written certifications for each production step.

I have looked to see if the identified craft came off a line in Washington or in South Carolina, but I haven’t hit the right story or combination of search words, but I think that might be interesting.

Here is a still from a (mild) animation in today’s WSJ about “the bolts.”

As you can see it’s more than just “a bolt” it’s a part of a small subassembly which holds the faux door in place. The door is then hidden behind the interior plastic shell inside the cabin; Boeing originally said it would take 6-8 hours per plane to complete the inspection, they have since walked that “guidance” back, so perhaps they have more to look at?

Possible causes that I can hypothesize are untorqued bolts, or vibrations in normal operation working the bolt(s) loose due to mis-sized bolts, bolts which require a pin to stop unscrewing not being pinned (think cotter pins) and the pin shimmies out, misalignment (same: vibration), and so on. While the faux door is done on other planes, it could be that the characteristics of location, size, etc. have changed what happens to this model in flight.

Or, you know, it could be gold old drunk Sam on the assembly line. I’m fascinated by the whole thing, of course.

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As far as I know, only the 78 is produced in SC. The 73s are built in Renton.

Steve

I agree, this isn’t one person somewhere doing a poor job on the assembly line. But I think you’re overlooking the design of the supervision process on the assembly line.

If the supervision is all about speed and pencil-whipping inspections, you get things like missing or loose bolts. We’ve got at least 5 of these on United planes, and I’m starting to see reports of more on Alaska Air planes as well. I haven’t seen reports from overseas operators yet. I would assume that at least some foreign carriers are inspecting their planes as well.

Still, it’s premature to rule out overall design problems. I’m just thinking that we can’t rule out assembly problems, either.

–Peter

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Exactly, and with my emphasis added…

That story now appears to be the main story. If Boeing is now screwing up so profoundly that they cannot catch this sort of systemic problem, well, that means I will need to start avoiding not just specific Boeing planes, but all of them of more recent vintage.

david fb
(I have an extra emotional edge as three different members of my family worked hard, faithfully, and proudly for Boeing from 1941 through 1998, from riveting on the line to highest level engineering in the executive suite.)

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I felt good about being a Boeing shareholder. Thought the company exemplified the best of USian industry. Sold when I noticed how the balance sheet was being rotted away.

Over recent years, we have seen Boeing bribe government officials with offers of cush jobs to corrupt contract negotiations, do cheap, sloppy, non-fault tolerant, designs, and, repeatedly, give build quality short shrift, and the balance sheet continues to rot. So, seems that Boeing does represent Shiny USian business practices of the 21st century.

Steve

Continuing to manufacture airplanes when they could not be sold has to have been costly. (Necessary to retain experienced work force.) They had to borrow against that inventory to pay salaries and materials. When those planes were sold they should have been able to repay the loans but they still are reporting losses–no earnings. That has to be a concern.

When was the last time Boeing didn’t have a multiple-year waiting list for planes?

DB2

Before WWII and the onset of USA economic dominion…?

d fb

They are booked out years in advance. Boeing’s problem was they couldn’t deliver the 737 Max’s they already sold. The 37 Max was the hot model, just the right size and with controls just like your daddy’s 37. No need for retraining, just have the pilots look over the manual over coffee. Phone was ringing off the hook with orders.

Until the unfortunate crashing problem was discovered. The 37 Max was grounded for almost a year before returning to the air–just in time for COVID. At which point many customers decided to walk away.

In the early day Douglas must have been the leader. DC-2 to 7. Especially DC-3. And apparently Ford Trimotor was a leader for a while.

Seems likely Boeing was more into bombers until arrival of the jet age. 707.