Why Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was a nightmare waiting to happen
Dominic Rushe, The Guardian
Friday 18 January 2013 11.51 EST
The 787 was pitched as the airline of the future – a revolutionary plane that that would use new technology to bring aircraft design into the 21st century. The Dreamliner is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic composite. More radically still, pneumatic and hydraulic systems have been ditched for electric systems.
Outsourcing parts led to three years of delays. Parts didn’t fit together properly. Shims used to bridge small parts weren’t attached correctly. Many aircraft had to have their tails extensively reworked. The company ended up buying some suppliers, to take their business back in house. All new projects, especially ones as ambitious as the Dreamliner, face teething issues but the 787’s woes continued to mount. Unions blame the company’s reliance on outsourcing.
Arguably, it is not just Boeing’s fault that the Dreamliner wasn’t ready. Boeing is a powerful force in Washington.
(T)he Dreamliner was passed under a very compressed schedule, said Mann. “And there was an electrical failure and an emergency landing during the test-flight programme,” he said. “That was blamed on a ‘foreign object’.”
Mann said the FAA’s mandate changed under administrator Marion Blakey, appointed by president George W Bush in 2008 as Boeing was working on the Dreamliner. “Blakey saw the FAA as a ‘customer services organisation,'” said Mann. The FAA was working with the airlines to cut regulation, not to impose it, he said.