Boeing - Design Issues...

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations / Flight Safety / Better Pil' started by TXFlyGuy, Apr 11, 2019.

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  1. Sep 30, 2019 #201

    Speedboat100

    Speedboat100

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    That sounds like Boeing lost the only outside contact that could have made the plane bullet proof safe ....the capable ARs ?!

    As an architect I have come to realize that a building is a process..where all the engineers and town regulation officers play a vital role. You really cannot hurry the project..you just have to go by the book.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  2. Sep 30, 2019 #202

    flyboy2160

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    Ron, Just 'liking' your post isn't enough - a written thanks is in order for your insights.

    The know-nothing-about-the technology-I'm-managing managers hve chafed me for many years. Your toaster analogy is perfect. They learn management principles (or manglement principles as I sarcastically call them) in an MBA program and erroneously think they can then run a high technology company.

    I'm aware of the comments from these MBAers that the 'old time' airplane guys don't know how to take care of the 'bottom line.' But the new way with managers who know nothing about the technology they are managing is far, far worse.

    I worked on a Red Team rescue of a big classified program. We were told going in that any extra expenditures had to meet some ROI number. When we made our final pitch to the MBAers from corporate, I admitted that we didn't make the ROI number, but that we still had a positive ROI. One of the MBA weenies said "I have a pile of money to manage. If I can't get the same ROI that I would get by investing in the stock market, my fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders says I don't spend the money saving the program."

    I couldn't believe what I was hearing, so I clarified it by asking : "So you would rather invest in Sears than in saving this program, the jobs associated with it, and the company reputation?"

    When he said "Yes," I knew real engineering was doomed.

    (I used the uncapitalized term designated engineering rep to cover both the official capitalized titles DER and DAR.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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  3. Sep 30, 2019 #203

    Hot Wings

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    I understand the need, or practical reason, to have the DAR/DERs private sector employees but that kind of has a built in moral hazard the same way tax payer protected investment banking did/does. The FAA reps need to be protected in some way by the FAA against this kind of corporate stacking of the deck.

    Thanks for the history lesson!
     
  4. Sep 30, 2019 #204

    David L. Downey

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    I am a 35 year Boeing Philadelphia veteran (Chinook, V22, F-18) and have worked materials engineering liaison on the factory floor by choice.
    Ever since the Max fiasco happened, the fact that technically ignorant/incompetent management from the floor up was actually finally drawing blood has become ever more obvious...Boeing used to sell engineering excellence...then they decided they just wanted to be an "integrator" and the outcome started to become obvious - to all but the management team. Then my protege, the sharpest young engineer I ever worked with moved to management and the spiral became evident...she had to sell out or have no future. I am not sure there is a path back, but the proposed change to have engineering answer to engineers further up the ladder can only be good.
     
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  5. Sep 30, 2019 #205

    flyboy2160

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    The catch is, what is 'some way?'

    For many years, decades even, the system worked pretty well just based on the personal integrity of those involved.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2019 #206

    Hot Wings

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    Wish I knew that answer.
    << >>
    This is the root of the problem......
     
  7. Sep 30, 2019 #207

    bmcj

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    Boeing already had a successful and thriving airline business, but was weak in the area of military aircraft (especially fighters), which I assumed was the reason for them buying McDonnell Douglas. So why would Boeing, being the dominant partner in this merger, hand over management of airline design and construction section to McDonnell Douglas, unless they openly wanted a shift in that direction of management style?
     
  8. Oct 1, 2019 #208

    flyboy2160

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    I hope RW also chimes in on this. At the time, Boeing had been losing market share to Airbus, but was still the dominant player. My recollection is that Stonecipher's stinging derogatory comments -essentially accusing the current management of incompetence - were the catalyst for the MacAir 'takeover.'
     
  9. Oct 1, 2019 #209

    Kyle Boatright

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    Depends on the makeup of the board and who the board aligned with. Stonecipher could have already had <say> 3 out of 7 board members locked up and only needed to convince one other board member to align with his philosophy to make serious organizational changes. If that swing member wasn't really knowledgeable about the core reasons for Boeing's success, s/he might have been easily swayed to a higher profit model.

    The farther I get into my career, the more I realize context and point of view are much more important than they teach in engineering or business school...
     
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  10. Oct 1, 2019 #210

    Wanttaja

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    For some reason, I wasn't invited to the negotiations. :) But I expect they had to offer Stonecipher (president and CEO of McD) an equivalent position at Boeing to get him to agree to the merger. He became president and COO of the new Boeing.

    I have no idea whose bright idea the merger was, but if the Boeing side wanted it, Stonecipher certainly had them over a barrel. Like BMJC said, Boeing was weak on the military side, having lost major contracts such as the one Lockheed won with the C-5, McDoug's with the C-17, and the JSF contract that led to the F-35 (albeit Boeing's entry was an appallingly ugly aircraft).

    [​IMG]
    So I think the impetus of the merger was to get some military contracts to balance the variations in the airline industry. The F-15 and C-17 were still in production, so Boeing had military contracts from Day 1.

    Getting into the pure rumor department, I have to report one I heard about the C-5 contest. Boeing did develop a concept to compete against Lockheed:
    [​IMG]
    Boeing's entry lost the competition, and Boeing hoped to reverse the loss using that fine old American tradition: mustering politicians to put pressure on the military.

    It not only didn't work, but (and here's where the rumor came in) it p*ssed the Air Force off so much that the Generals told Boeing, "We will NEVER buy another aircraft from you."

    And Boeing never again won any new-aircraft development contracts from the Air Force, until the KC-46...and the Blue Zoo isn't too happy with that, either.

    Boeing *did* recover from the C-5 fiasco in spectacular fashion. Look at the wings and engines of the plane above? Look familiar? Boeing leveraged the work they'd done on the heavy-lift transport for the first of the Jumbo jets...the Boeing 747.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
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  11. Oct 1, 2019 #211

    12notes

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    If the professors teaching MBA courses really knew what they were doing, they'd be in business, not teaching. Business has a much better ROI on that PhD investment.
     
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  12. Oct 1, 2019 #212

    Kyle Boatright

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    True, but once you have tenure, there ain't much pressure in the PHD world. I can attest to the fact that in private industry, pressure is omnipresent and it is hard to put a value on what that pressure may be doing to your physical and mental well being.
     
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  13. Oct 1, 2019 #213

    Speedboat100

    Speedboat100

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    I snipped a bit of that...I personally thought this was very futuristic looking AC. Never saw it as ugly.
     
  14. Oct 1, 2019 #214

    BJC

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    As Kyle commented, they know exactly what they are doing; avoiding accountability.


    BJC
     
  15. Oct 1, 2019 #215

    BJC

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    Circa 2000, a Wall Street analyst presented the financial results of multiple recent corporate mergers to a room full of CEO’s, Presidents, Board Chairmen, and a few underlings. He showed that none of the mergers had provided the espoused benefits that had been used to justify the merger to the shareholders. There was a long, quiet pause in the room until an underling asked, “Then why are there so many merger?” The speaker answered, “Executive egos.” The room was dead quiet for some time.

    Retirement aged executives generally do well in a merger.


    BJC
     
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  16. Oct 1, 2019 #216

    Wanttaja

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    As Flyboy2160 said, the tough part is figuring out HOW to do this.

    One potential solution might have been found from my own experience at Boeing. I was in a small satellite development group with the US Government as a customer. Classic acquisition and oversight was especially onerous for small operations like ours (no more than ~200 employees at max staffing). The contractor spends a lot of time writing reports, the Government holds semi-annual or yearly meetings with the contractor to find status and learn how the program was going (during which time things might have badly gone off the rails), and the Government people monitoring us were typically junior captains with no actual satellite development experience.

    We needed to get away from the traditional adversarial relationships between Government and Contractor.

    Easiest way to do that was make them part of the team. Enter the small satellite Rapid Prototyping world.

    We set up desks for them in the areas where the engineers worked. They'd assign a couple of engineers to be with us on a rotating basis. These engineers were invited to all meetings (except business/financial ones) and were fully expected to participate (NOT lead...that was clear to them. Direction had to come via the usual channels). When problems came up, we'd grab the government guy to come to the discussion, and they'd notify their own chain afterwards. Often, the Government boss knew what was going on before OUR boss (not that we didn't make an effort to notify him....).

    I was the lead engineer for my last two programs at Boeing, and it worked wonderfully. Not that we didn't get pushback, not that there wasn't arguments, but we at least all felt we were working toward common goals.

    Programs completed on time. On budget. And, as a bonus, the Government got back young captains WHO KNEW HOW SATELLITES WENT TOGETHER.

    Now, mind you, we had several things working for us. We were small programs. We were heavily classified programs, so it was tougher for outsiders (either in the company or in the government) to find otu what we were doing.

    I ended up writing a parody version of our program rules... the Klingon Rules For Rapid Prototyping. There is, also, a formal Boeing document on this process, dated about 20 years ago.

    Much harder to implement for a commercial airliner program, but putting a government rep alongside the ARs would give the ARs more power to resist executive interference in engineering issues as well as producing a pretty knowledgeable FAA guy.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
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  17. Oct 1, 2019 #217

    flyboy2160

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    Thanks Ron, this was a real lol treat. It reminds me of Augustine's laws!

    Alas, if the Big Weenies can see what you're doing, you're DOA.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  18. Oct 1, 2019 #218

    Wanttaja

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    That's the big advantage, when even most of the higher Boeing execs can't be told what you're doing. Some of them got kinda mad about it...

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  19. Oct 1, 2019 #219

    flyboy2160

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    Ron, I don't know if you're familiar with the very successful Viper car development. Rumor has it that the development team physically locked themselves in a separate building into which only development team members were allowed. No Big Shot Weeenies were allowed, which reportedly teed them off! They dev team said give us the budget and get out of our way. They delivered the prototype in record time and within budget.

    After many years in the aerospace business at big companies, I'm convinced that the farther a manager is from doing actual engineering, the more inclined he is to come up with buzzword bingo cliches (do you remember the Boeing one Find A Way!) and goals that are out of touch with reality. I'm not even sure the relationship is inversely proportional - it might even be some gravity like deal that's inverse squared!
     
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  20. Oct 1, 2019 #220

    Hephaestus

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    LinkedIn just managed to fully explain what went wrong with the 737max to me :)

    Was a poorly conceived bump of an article outlining how kaizen brought us the exemplary 737max.

    :confused:

    Tell me you guys aren't stuck with these insane philosophical ideas that should remain in corporate boardrooms? (We "in the field" guys removed this methodology about 5 years ago, as it was just another massive inefficient waste of time, one quarterly meeting that's rehearsed and planned the day before - for when the head office guys visit. :D)
     

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