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Faro
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Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:16 pm

In this neighboring thread:

https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1476139

there is talk of a 748 which was not built to the contractual specifications which the manufacturer guaranteed and was therefore not taken up NTU. It apparently had weight and balance issues and/or required much more flight testing hours which resulted in a requirement for a different maintenance schedule vs. a compliant airframe.

How does an airframe end up not meeting the manufacturer's contractual specifications?

How does the exit clause for the airline wishing not to take up such an airframe work?

What happens to the book value of such an airframe in the manufacturer's books once an out-of-specification situation is recognised? Is there a token % write-down or is the frame written down based on a detailed revaluation?

I must say I was surprised to learn that something like this can happen. We are used to aerospace being such a high-tech, high-precision industry with very low manufacturing tolerances that an entire out-of-specification airliner seems --rather naïvely I guess-- like something that can never happen...


Faro
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:52 pm

787 program had a few of "terrible teens" that nobody wanted.
A380 had a first few dozen with wiring redone by hand, as mistakes were made at the design phase (same software, but iterations/versions different enough to suddenly matter). Same A380 had other changes through the life of the program, so later builds, though officially the same plane, were better than early builds.

Going back in time, before everything went digital, airplane construction included a lot of manual adjustments, thus being also art and magic, as much as an industrial process.
When you try to bridge these worlds (manual adjustments and digital precision), you come up with strange results. Nimrod rewinging project, as documented on this forum, was a spectacular blunder in this respect -- fellas designed beautiful wings (and built plenty of them) based on precise measurements of a sample frame, only to realize that all other frames are of unique dimensions, and new wings will fit only the sample frame, not the other ones. Differences were in millimeters, but this was enough to derail the whole thing.

Plus never forget cost-cutting. Once engineers are dethroned, and accountants get to run the place with a cost-cutting hatchet, things like tools left inside completed planes, contamination with metal shavings that nobody cares about, etc. might happen -- to the point that press gets wind of that.

Prototypes are especially vulnerable this way. "A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there... ah, what was the previous tweak? What do you mean 'you don't know'? ahhh, they fired the guy who was documenting it, because they cut costs... never mind, carry on, we're on schedule fellas"...
 
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Polot
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:58 pm

It’s pretty common for initial examples of a plane to be heavier than subsequent planes as reworking something (and all new planes need some degree of rework) almost always results in more weight than if was initially incorporated into build. I’m talking about before weight optimization that also later occurs.

Whether that pushes the plane out of contractual specs depends on severity and of course how tight the contractual agreements were. Initial planes always have looser guarantees but sometimes even then the plane falls out.
 
n471wn
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:59 am

Speaking of NTU there is the strange case of WN not taking up 737 MAX 8 N8703J. Someone said it was damaged and repaired but I am sure Boeing would make someone a great deal for this 3rd prototype.
 
accentra
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Wed Aug 31, 2022 7:15 am

I think the most notable example of an airline refusing aircraft that did not meet spec was Singapore Airlines and the MD11? I believe the aircraft fell well short of its range spec on test and Singapore then cancelled its orders for 20 of them? I understand it was a major blow to the MD11 programme at the time.
 
BrianDromey
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Wed Aug 31, 2022 9:11 am

This happens on other programmes too. KL has the last 738 off the line, I believe it was because the fuselage that was due to them was damaged in some way? I can't remember the specifics now?
 
Noshow
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Wed Aug 31, 2022 12:13 pm

I seem to remember Algeria returned a batch of MiG-29 that were not "new" as claimed by Russia, but well-used before.
The UK halted the Nimrod program after the new made standard retrofit wings would not fit on the used airframes they had been intended for, as all old aircraft were made by hand to highly variable measurements standards.
 
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AirKevin
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:01 pm

BrianDromey wrote:
This happens on other programmes too. KL has the last 738 off the line, I believe it was because the fuselage that was due to them was damaged in some way? I can't remember the specifics now?

Didn't the fuselage go crashing into the river after falling off the train, or am I thinking of a different kerfuffle.
 
WayexTDI
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:07 pm

AirKevin wrote:
BrianDromey wrote:
This happens on other programmes too. KL has the last 738 off the line, I believe it was because the fuselage that was due to them was damaged in some way? I can't remember the specifics now?

Didn't the fuselage go crashing into the river after falling off the train, or am I thinking of a different kerfuffle.

From memory, the KL 738 had to be rebuild because the wings wouldn't fit properly (issue with drilling/reaming of the mounting points). The 737 fuselages that took a bath were several years prior.
 
eskimotail
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Fri Sep 23, 2022 2:13 am

The fuselages that were involved in the derailment were shredded in place and baled up for recycling.

Boeing and probably others, have machines called Shredder/Briquetters that can do exactly that to aluminum.

Alaska Airlines has an airframe that was on a train that hit a log truck. It was severely damaged by flying tree trunks. It was sent back to Spirit to be repaired and rejoined the final assembly line very "late".

There is a shop at Renton factory called The Dinger Shop. They remove dents and dings and bullet holes from the cross country train trip. It is the first stop in final assembly and they remove the fuselage from the train car and load it on a handling trailer.

Surprisingly there are "completed" wings all over Renton factory grounds that are red tagged and headed for other uses. Just today I was crawling thru a 737 wing on a FOD detection training course and I am sure that Boeing did not make a specific wing for us to train on. They are sill made by humans that can make mistakes after all.
 
crownvic
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Fri Sep 23, 2022 3:05 am

accentra wrote:
I think the most notable example of an airline refusing aircraft that did not meet spec was Singapore Airlines and the MD11? I believe the aircraft fell well short of its range spec on test and Singapore then cancelled its orders for 20 of them? I understand it was a major blow to the MD11 programme at the time.


Thanks to SQ, that was basically the beginning of the end for the MD-11 as many carriers began the trek over to the A340. By the time MD addressed the shortfall and solved the issue, it was too late. The A340 order book was filling up, while the MD-11 dropped off. I never forgave SQ from that day on for killing one of my favorite planes :(
 
a320fan
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Fri Sep 23, 2022 3:20 am

crownvic wrote:
accentra wrote:
I think the most notable example of an airline refusing aircraft that did not meet spec was Singapore Airlines and the MD11? I believe the aircraft fell well short of its range spec on test and Singapore then cancelled its orders for 20 of them? I understand it was a major blow to the MD11 programme at the time.


Thanks to SQ, that was basically the beginning of the end for the MD-11 as many carriers began the trek over to the A340. By the time MD addressed the shortfall and solved the issue, it was too late. The A340 order book was filling up, while the MD-11 dropped off. I never forgave SQ from that day on for killing one of my favorite planes :(

And then shortly after delivery SQ deciding to phase out the A340 and going all in on the 777 was one of the first nails into the coffin of that program.
 
accentra
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Fri Sep 23, 2022 8:45 am

a320fan wrote:
crownvic wrote:
accentra wrote:
I think the most notable example of an airline refusing aircraft that did not meet spec was Singapore Airlines and the MD11? I believe the aircraft fell well short of its range spec on test and Singapore then cancelled its orders for 20 of them? I understand it was a major blow to the MD11 programme at the time.


Thanks to SQ, that was basically the beginning of the end for the MD-11 as many carriers began the trek over to the A340. By the time MD addressed the shortfall and solved the issue, it was too late. The A340 order book was filling up, while the MD-11 dropped off. I never forgave SQ from that day on for killing one of my favorite planes :(

And then shortly after delivery SQ deciding to phase out the A340 and going all in on the 777 was one of the first nails into the coffin of that program.


Yes, although that was also a highly tactical move by Boeing, including the buying back of the then practically new A340s as a facilitator for the deal for 777s at SQ, as part of a strategy to kill the A340. I seem to remember that that (at the time) was considered a very unorthodox and unusual move and quite 'ungentlemanly'. The A340s became part of the Boeing Capital-owned fleet, I think? And I think Boeing had difficulty finding homes for them? I know there was all sorts of noise from Airbus about not supporting them after the Boeing intervention. But obviously that turned out not to be the case. I wonder if that whole thing was, in retrospect, the first 'gloves off' confrontation between Airbus and Boeing?
 
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AirKevin
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Re: Airliners Not Built to Contractual Specification - NTU

Fri Sep 23, 2022 11:22 am

crownvic wrote:
accentra wrote:
I think the most notable example of an airline refusing aircraft that did not meet spec was Singapore Airlines and the MD11? I believe the aircraft fell well short of its range spec on test and Singapore then cancelled its orders for 20 of them? I understand it was a major blow to the MD11 programme at the time.

Thanks to SQ, that was basically the beginning of the end for the MD-11 as many carriers began the trek over to the A340. By the time MD addressed the shortfall and solved the issue, it was too late. The A340 order book was filling up, while the MD-11 dropped off. I never forgave SQ from that day on for killing one of my favorite planes :(

So was Singapore Airlines supposed to just accept planes that couldn't do what it needed them to do and take a hit in the process? They're running a business, why would they want a plane that would cause them to lose money because of the penalties they would have to take in order to operate it.

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