Friday, June 21, 2024

Comment of the day


From reader HistoryPerson, commenting on a CNN report about the Boeing Starliner crew capsule, currently docked with the International Space Station pending resolution of several issues with its thrusters and other components:

How many Boeing people does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is unknown because nobody at Boeing knows how to change a light bulb.

Considering how much trouble the Boeing 737 Max airliner program is in, that might be all too appropriate . . .  Remember when Boeing blazed the trail that all other aircraft manufacturers followed?  How are the mighty fallen!



LL said...

I wouldn't want to ride in a Boeing capsule. SpaceX is fine for me. Boeing feels too much like the current NASA.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before but nobody wants to hear it;

Theres alot of piling-on with Boeing these days, some deserved and much not. Much of the finger-pointing at Boeing indicates a very limited knowledge of how the commercial aerospace industry works. If you think that Boeing is solely to blame for all the events you are a limited knowledge person wrt industry, regulation and systems safety.

I'll give you a hint;
1. Boeing
2. Customers
3. FAA

When the music stopped Boeing didnt get a chair, but the other two were also playing the game.

Chris Nelson said...

A SpaceX lightbulb can change itself, but lasts 30 times longer at 7% the cost of the Boeing lightbulb.


Beans said...

Regarding Boeing, what has done the most harm is the current corporate culture. Moving the headquarters away from Seattle, though a sound idea to get out of that leftist-hellhole, and then moving it to another leftist hellhole far away from actual manufacturing, shows what management thinks of the company.

And letting buyer-nations dictate that parts of the systems be built in the buyer-nations was just a stupid f'n move. Present a plane, a work of art and accomplishment, and tell the buyers "Here it is, fini, use one aftermarket supplier and we'll shut you down.

Instead Corporate bent over apologizing to poophole nations and taking shortcuts to bring in suppliers and vendors that nobody would trust.

Sadly, now, nobody I know will ever trust a Boeing product until there is a major change in the company towards quality and excellence, not bottom line and pocket/retirement lining by executives with business degrees and not engineering or science degrees.

Ray - SoCal said...

Why Boeing has issues:

McDonald Douglas purchases Boeing has the MD culture come top.

Dei focus, gutting of experienced QA and Engineers.

Cost reduction focus

Moving corporate hq from Seattle to Chicago, later Dc.

Focus on quarterly/ financial results

Stock Buybacks (not Boeings fault). Started under Reagan.

Tax code that disfavors capital expenditures. Better to outsource.

GE alumni in charge.

Leadership losing touch with workers. Losing focus on commercial part of business.

FAA delegating responsibility to Boeing.

Adding commercial airline manufacturing to Carolina, losing quality Seattle culture.

Hightecrebel said...

I haven't seen anyone claim it's "just" Boeing. Pretty sure we all know it's not just them who are screwing up. The reason we focus so much on them is because they are BOEING - for decades they not.only set the standard, they exceeded it. They were an engineering company that happened to market the planes it developed, as opposed to a marketing company that has to quickly produce the planes they already sold.

Mauser said...

Long time Boeing employees point the start of their problems on the McDonnell-Douglas merger. They joke that McDonnell bought Boeing with Boeing's own money. And a lot of the McD-D management was integrated, which was the poison pill because they were not about engineering, but disciples of Jack Welch, in terms of gutting the company for stockholder value. And Boeing stopped being a risk-taking engineering powerhouse. The perfect example being the resistance to building a clean-sheet aircraft that led to the Max series, and the outsourced to its extreme detriment 787 program.

Anonymous said...

It all started when the bean counters took over and threw the engineers under the bus!

Anonymous said...

I was there in the 80s and the company sucked even then. How many engineering companies were (are?) so bad that the salaried employees needed a union? F* Boeing; I'd short the stock but "too big to fail" (meaning the funding for lobbyists is still large)

HMS Defiant said...

Boeing bought MD which promptly shut down and it seems all their top executives moved up to Seattle to take over Boeing and whine about living in Seattle until they could uproot and move to Chicago. Stupidest people on earth would move to Chicago. Having finally figured that out they moved to Arlington, VA to be close to the biggest crime families in America.
In a way they're a lot like Microsoft and Google. The evil simply follows them now wherever they go.

Edward said...

"...nobody at Boeing knows how to change a light bulb."

Nor, it seems, what a "bulb" is, and it appears even their ability to identify "light" is pretty sketchy.

Anonymous said...

When I first hired in at Boeing, we were proud to say "If it's not Boeing, I'm not going." The company slid downhill the last 20 years or so I was there, and has apparently totally gone to hell the 12 years since I retired. It's a sad thing to see, and even worse knowing that people may end up dying because of it.

Gerry said...

All I will say is Boeing likes lots of meetings spread over years to fix an issue that could have been done in weeks.

+1 Mauser. Jack Welsh disciples are to be avoided at all costs

Tregonsee said...

Much of Boeings Woes are due to the culture of McDonnell-Douglas that they let infest it. Looking at the Starliner in particular its first failure in the unmanned test was due to a failure of data passing from the Atlas to the Starliner (in particular the clock was wrong). This caused Starliner to misjudge it's position and not make the corrections at the correct time. This happened because there was NO full up integration test performed. The Atlas Engineers and the Starliner Engineers hadn't talked and the data passing was wrong/incomplete. Part of this was because the Engineers weren't talking (In the words of Gomer Pyle "Surprise Surprise"). More of this was because the managment was ONLY doing the milestones as specified in the contract. This being fixedx cost contract you meet a milestone and you get part of the payment. Things were late and so Management had decreed that no excess would be spent and the full up test had no payout milestone. There being no payout cheese the management rats were uninterested.

The current thruster issues seem like a similar issue. A subcontractor provides them and there's likely friction between the teams and management just wants stuff to go as the charlie foxtrot on the first test cost the 1.9 billion of their own money to retest, and its clear Passenger Dragon even 3 years late on the original 2018 date is now operating without issue like the local Greyhound bus. The Boeing management sees the widow to do these missions closing. The ISS will be brought down early 2030's many of its modules (especially the craptastic Russian ones) are long in the tooth. Next gen will lofted by SpaceX (possibly on Starship) and be private so Boeings cost structure means Starliner will be a no go. On top of that Starliner is dependent upon Atlas and the main engine for that is no longer available. They could theoretically move to Vulcan, but that's launched once and is NOT man-rated. The Only man-rated hardware is (wait for it) Falcon 9.
Boeing's management has deftly placed the family jewels between a rock and a hard place and are about to pay for their idiocy. Let us hope 2 astronauts are not sacrificed on that pyre.

As for those that blame DEI I say at best maybe. When Management says march you have two choices 1) do as they request 2) Stand up and walk out the door. Most Engineers (myself included) just can't say goodbye to our rather nice remuneration (we like to eat and have a roof over our head even if we are often a bit on the Autism spectrum). Likely the Boeing engineers have a nasty no-compete clause so going to work for Spacex, Rocket Lab or Blue Origin is not an option. The Golden rule is strong and he who has the Gold makes the rules.

Tree Mike said...

That's what happen's when bean counters and management bean counters are allowed to invade ownership positions.
Boeing did it by crippling QC. Made a bunch of dirty money until, this last couple months, countries and companies quit ordering 737's.
Funny how that works, innit.

Will said...

"Likely the Boeing engineers have a nasty no-compete clause so going to work for Spacex, Rocket Lab or Blue Origin is not an option."

Maybe not. I have a vague memory of hearing that a federal court recently took a hatchet to the idea of a restraint on job hunting in this manner.

HMS Defiant said...

NASA wrote a contract with Boeing for a spacecraft and failed to include 100% demonstrations that the hardware and software were fully integrated and worked. Now what kind of CO writes a contract like that? I know, it was all sweetheart deals for NASA's old reliable contractors. Not paying off for anybody now.
Viz man-rated systems. There is Falcon and there is also the NASA approved standby, buying seats on Russian rockets. Why not, the reason Atlas are through is because Congress forbade NASA to continue to use cheap but reliable Russian rocket engines. They did that years ago.

Dan Patterson said...

Beans, and others here, is right on the money. The shift from engineering to marketing is the ruination of any manufacturing source; GM and Ford are two other excellent examples. There is another dangerous ingredient at work and this one will get me banned: the inclusion of female executives in strategic decision-making positions. Hewlett-Packard, anyone?

MNW said...

They were an engineering company now, they are run by finance bros and are more concerned by hitting dei/gse metrics than being Boeing

MNW said...

GE: an example of why you shouldn't let accountants run a company

MNW said...

I do not blame DEI but, it is exasperating and accelerating the problems.

Anonymous said...

Every thing is a damn dollar.

Mikey said...

Recommended reading - The Man Who Broke Capitalism by David Gelles. It pretty much outlines the GE "Jack Welch" style management that has taken American industry and run it off the rails with cause blind short term stock price management. DEI enters in to the process when these Welch accolytes have an organization in the company they want to weaken (like Quality Management). The simplest thing in the world is to put a DEI hire in charge of that org who has no idea what they are supposed to be doing. Another contributing factor is the fraudulant AS9100 Aerospace Quality System certification that does not actually require companies to make quality products. Welchkins love it because they can raise the AS9100 cert flag and then go back to building the worst products they can get away with.

audeojude said...

Someone mentioned that federal courts had stopped employers from enforcing no competes that kept someone from finding another job. That might or might not be true but it is fundamentally irrelevant. I know of much smaller companies that if they are unhappy with an employee leaving will destroy their lives. Even though they can't truly do anything to them.. the sheer cost and destruction of having to respond to one false claim after another in the courts over a period of years will bankrupt most normal people. The companies can bear the expense of throwing lots of false complaints at them though. Doesn't matter wether it is real or not. Even if it's a stupid case that will get thrown out if you don't respond and don't show up with competent legal representation you can get judgments against you for stuff you never did just because they claimed it. Regardless. the cost of just showing up to say no that's not true will bankrupt most people. So just to get to the point of pointing at nice federal judgement that says they can't sue you for this is enough to bankrupt them. If they are lucky enough to have enough money to go through the process and get it thrown out and live in a jurisdiction that makes the people suing them pay all costs they might come out of it ok financially but even then probably not as no one is going to compensate them for all the lost work and personal time put in on the case. they will just get compensated for their legal representation.