I think it is a bit harsh to criticize management for the setbacks of the 777X. What they definitely lack is transparency but the issue (from what I understand) is that the goal posts were shifted due to the MAX fiasco. The 777X was in development before the MAX crashes, all the processes and designs were made and the ship was sailing. Then the destination was changed but turning a tanker takes time. So Boeing got caught with their pants down because now they have to redesign stuff and even worse, actually produce evidence that what they did was conform. That means going back to the beginning and do the paperwork properly. That is a painful job that takes time and especially if personnel changed it means that some work might have to be redone.
We can see from the critizism of the FAA that a lot of stuff is missing or was not properly done because the initial plan of Boeing never included that stuff because it was not needed (because the FAA just took Boeings word) but now the FAA actually demands the paperwork.
I think it's appropriate to criticize management. Keep in mind these people as a class grant themselves windfall bonuses of cash and stock when things go well, it's only fair that they take heat when things go off the rails like they are here.
IMO it's no exaggeration to say things are going off the rails if/when the regulator is calling you out for not following your own procedures.
I realize that Boeing is dealing with shifting goal posts but they have at least publicly said they accept the shifting goal posts and it's up to management to come up with plans that work within the new framework, rather than keep going down the old path and only reacting when "they get caught with their pants down" to use your phrase.
Yes, that takes time and money, but isn't it management's job to make schedules and budgets to coordinate people and other resources?
I read the letter that was linked above and was somewhat gobsmacked.
Maybe not the perfect analogy, but it read like a learner driver trying to apply for their practical driving test without wanting to demonstrate proof of having completed and passed a theory test, even though having been asked to produce proof of it.
Furthermore, it was like the student driver saying, there’s also mechanical problems with the car but it should be fixed soon, but changing the date by which this will happen.
Indeed. It does feel like a young driving student who shows up without passing the written test and with a dodgy car and saying, "Can't I have the learner's permit anyway?". Makes one want to ask the parents exactly what kind of kid are you raising? Hopefully both go away chastened and return with everything in good order.
In turning down the 777X for TIA readiness, the FAA also cited a finding that the supplier of the avionics provided “inadequate peer review” in a safety analysis “resulting in inconsistencies … and incorrect reuse of 787 data.”
If the FAA catches this, it must have been blindingly obvious and the checks at Boeing must be either non-existent or it was pushed forward to the FAA intentionally.
Supplier of the avionics = GE.
From the FG article:
Much of the letter’s focus rests on the 777-9’s CCS, which the letter says fails to meet “readiness requirements”. Boeing does not provide details. But in 2014 GE Aviation said it had been chosen by Boeing to provide the 777X’s CCS. GE Aviation did not respond to a request for comment.
“The CCS is a very complex and critical avionics system,” the FAA’s letter says. “It is an integrated modular avionics architecture that provides a set of shared computing, networking and input/output resources.” The CCS system on the 777-9 marks a “significant change from the baseline 777-300ER,” the letter adds.
It cites “lack of sufficient data” related to the CCS, and “lack of availability of [a] preliminary safety assessment for the FAA to review”. The agency cannot yet confirm the CCS “is mature and will provide only uncorrupted data”.
It notes that Boeing’s proposed modifications to the 777-9’s design include “firmware and hardware changes to the actuator controls electrics of the flight control system”. Boeing chief executive David Calhoun disclosed in January that Boeing was making those types of design changes. The FAA still has “concern” about the modifications, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) “has not yet agreed on a way forward on the Model 777-9”, the letter says. “Boeing needs to ensure the changes do not introduce new, inadvertent failures.”
It adds that “design maturity is in question, as design changes are on-going and potentially significant”. The letter asks Boeing’s Organisation Designation Authorization office – the company’s self-certification unit – to “close these gaps” before requesting that the FAA issue the Type Inspection Authorization.
Ref: https://www.flightglobal.com/airframers ... 42.article
CCS is the Common Core System ( ref: https://www.aviationtoday.com/2014/12/2 ... eing-777x/
) ( https://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/1 ... 11028.html
) which is based on the one in the 787.
Boeing must have some interesting questions to be asking of GE, given that the contract was awarded in 2014 yet FAA says the design maturity is at question. It could be that Boeing didn't provide GE enough information to start early enough, or it could be that GE didn't staff up the program quick enough or provide enough experienced people who could create the kind of designs that would meet targets. It does seem to have have eerie parallels to MCAS, which was implemented by Rockwell Collins, where Boeing doesn't seem to have a tight grip on what its subcontractors are doing and is willing to portray the situation as being OK without actually having spent the effort to verify that things were indeed OK.
I agree with the general opinion here that this is inexcusable after the MAX tragedy. Boeing and GE should know that FAA will be on its highest alert and their work needs to be at the highest level to pass muster. FAA is clearly annoyed that Boeing has been asking for over nine months for TIA clearance without doing the work to support granting it.
Upper management defines the project conditions and budgets, so they are to blame. If the order is to make it as cheap as possible and cut as many corners as possible you while ignoring nay voices warning against that decision, you end where Boeing is. The mid level managers and engineers are the core value of the company, as they have the skills to built a new plane, they need to conditions to do that correctly.
Seems like some unfair generalizations are being made. In my experience you can find plenty of mid level managers that have the same traits as you say upper management has, after all that's where upper managers come from. Technical work is very demanding, if you don't stay fully engaged you lose your grip quite easily. In my experience there's a lot of middle level managers who lose their grip early and become not much more than cogs in the machine, careerists and self-preservationists.
One big problem for Boeing is what they really need now is some people who excel at troubleshooting i.e. they know how both management and engineering mindsets operate, can gain the trust of both enough to get access to the information needed to determine the true state of affairs and have the intelligence to understand it all while seeing through any smoke screens being raised by the various self serving careerists they will encounter. Then of course you need upper management willing to hear bad news and willing to implement corrective measures. I wish them luck finding some of these people, they are as rare as unicorns. Without these kinds of troubleshooters what you end up doing is more of the same and hoping that things will eventually sort themselves out. If you understand the rules of entropy you understand this is about as likely as a monkey walking up to a piano and playing Beethoven.