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A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:08 am

It seems Mr. Champion had a lot to say about the wiring issues during the previous delay, but he hasn't been heard from this time, to the best of my knowledge. I wish he did speak up, it'd be interesting to hear his point of view.

Ref: http://www.flug-revue.rotor.com/FRHeft/FRHeft05/FRH0511/FR0511g.htm

Quote:

Charles Champion, Head of the A380 Programme and recently appointed Airbus Chief Operating Officer as well, sums up progress to date as follows. “We had feared some surprises that did not occur. There have not been any big problems, but many small ones, and there won't be any showstoppers. However, we did misjudge the amount of work involved on the wiring. The scale of individual customer special requirements surprised us. Now we are having to do the wiring with all the cable harnesses for many different customer versions in parallel. Emirates is even getting two variants. It affects not just the wires but also their fastenings, and hence the structure. Because of that, at the beginning we had sections in final assembly without the full system equipment for the cabin.”

To alleviate the wiring bottleneck, Champion has called in outside engineering services and hired several hundred extra staff. He expects to gradually make up the lost ground by employing extra teams in final assembly. Champion adds, “We will also ramp up production more steeply later on.” Although he calls the A380-800 the “top priority” at Airbus, he is not expecting production to normalise until between factory numbers 30 and 40, i.e. not before mid-2007, even though launch customer Singapore Airlines (SIA) is to take delivery of its first aircraft before the end of 2006.

Ref: http://www.cocardes.com/articles.php?lng=fr&pg=758

Quote:
(Champion) admitted Airbus hadn't expected the amount of customisation sought by airlines, which caused delays in production as each fuselage layout uses unique wiring harnesses and hardpoints for mounting cabin items. "We underestimated the volume of customisation," said Champion. "Where we were taken by surprise is the amount of engineering hours required to deliver the technical verification sheets. We were not able to provide design inputs to sub-contractors to do the harnesses." This resulted in fuselage sections being delivered to the final assembly line before cabin interfaces and wiring harnesses had been installed, requiring out-of-sequence rectification work.

So, he knew of the problem in 11/205, and presumably somewhat before. They made steps to rectify the problem, and felt a 6 month slip would allow them to catch up. But now another delay is necessary. I wonder what went wrong: did they not hire the necessary staff to catch up, or is was the 6 month delay too optimisitic all along? One wonders where this all ends: could there be yet another delay for the same reason?
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leelaw
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/

Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:24 am

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
One wonders where this all ends: could there be yet another delay for the same reason?

If that happens they're really going to have to back the truck up to the barn.

It's nearly two weeks since the "wiring harness imbroglio" revived, no heads have "rolled," and Mr. Champion still has his job. Early-on I thought he was the most likely candidate to be asked to "walk the plank" in response to the "crisis." Now I'm not so sure, perhaps Mr. Forgeard's scheduled appearence before the French Parliamentary Committee later this week will be the prelude to his demise instead.

[Edited 2006-06-26 17:28:21]
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:37 am

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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:37 am

Quoting Leelaw (Reply 1):
It's nearly two weeks since the "wiring harness imbroglio" revived, no heads have "rolled," and Mr. Champion still has his job. Early-on I thought he was the most likely candidate to be asked to "walk the plank" in response to the "crisis." Now I'm not so sure, perhaps Mr. Forgeard's scheduled appearence before the French Parliamentary Committee later this week will be the prelude to his demise instead.

I suppose in that regard Champion has been wise to keep a low profile and let Forgeard take the heat. I also didn't realize that Champion was also made Airbus COO. I wonder if that makes him less vulnerable (because they won't want to fire the guy that they just made COO) or more vulnerable (since the failure being discussed is an operational one).
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:43 am

I find it shocking that Airbus would be 'surprised by the amount of customizing' airlines were doing with the A380 when Airbus themselves pushed that as a benefit?

This whole story has a 'tortoise & the hare' feel to it. There's Airbus blasting away, with much fanfare, on the A380. Then there's Boeing, plodding along under the radar, with the 787.

Now look...

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leelaw
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:02 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 3):
I suppose in that regard Champion has been wise to keep a low profile and let Forgeard take the heat. I also didn't realize that Champion was also made Airbus COO. I wonder if that makes him less vulnerable (because they won't want to fire the guy that they just made COO) or more vulnerable (since the failure being discussed is an operational one).

Initially, I thought Mr. Champion was the most obvious candidate to be sacrificial-lamb because he was directly in-charge of the A380 program and he didn't have an obvious political patron. Apparently, the French body-politic wants a larger fish, who had the temerity to engage in "Anglo-Saxon" compensation schemes (i.e. Mr. Forgeard), to be fried. Perhaps they'll both get canned, it will be interesting.

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eclipz
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:18 am

Hi everbody... my first message on airliners  Smile

According to this article (french) quoting Der Spiegel (german), http://tf1.lci.fr/infos/economie/0,,3311655,00.html

Leahy seems to be responsible of the delay... he accepted some modifications (from customers) of the cabin layout way after they were finalized and after everything needed (for the original layout) was ordered and prepared. Due to these late modifications, Airbus had to order or develop new wires... that's what is supposed to be the cause of the delay.

Leahy made a mistake enableing such late modifications, he knew it so he sent a note to people concerned saying these modifications are urgent... but anyway, it was already too late.

Sorry if my english is not correct, i hope you understand what i mean.

Vincent.
 
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:24 am

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 6):

Welcome.

Interesting, I don't recall the finger being pointed at Leahy as the source of the "wiring-harness" foul-up before?
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:43 am

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 6):
Leahy seems to be responsible of the delay... he accepted some modifications (from customers) of the cabin layout way after they were finalized and after everything needed (for the original layout) was ordered and prepared. Due to these late modifications, Airbus had to order or develop new wires... that's what is supposed to be the cause of the delay.

If this is indeed true, then the customers should, IMO, take some of the blame for requiring re-work at such a late point. This is not meant to provide a blanket indemnity to Airbus, mind you, who either should have better projected the delay in implementing the re-work or, if they knew it probably would take longer, communicated that to the customers earlier.

Also, if true, I'd be interested in knowing why the airlines felt the IFE/seating wiring they had already committed to was suddenly an issue that needed to be addressed at such a late point.
 
eclipz
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:54 am

I know it's a strange rumour... it doesn't really make sense to me, it's not logical at all... or Leahy is really stupid.

If it's true, i'd like to know which customer asked for modifications and as Stitch said, it would be interesting to know what kind of changes are involved... unfortunately this article doesn't say a word about it.

Talking about "who is to blame ?", Airbus is (IMO) the only one to blame... if a customer asked for changes, Leahy should have say "no or YOUR planes will be delayed"

@Leelaw : thanks  Wink
 
deltadc9
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:55 am

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 6):
Leahy seems to be responsible of the delay... he accepted some modifications (from customers) of the cabin layout way after they were finalized and after everything needed (for the original layout) was ordered and prepared. Due to these late modifications, Airbus had to order or develop new wires... that's what is supposed to be the cause of the delay.

Leahy made a mistake enableing such late modifications, he knew it so he sent a note to people concerned saying these modifications are urgent... but anyway, it was already too late.

This kind of thing happens all the time, and I would not be surprised at all if this were indeed the case.

I personally dont recall ever working on a project where sales did not do whatever they needed to do to get a contract signed, and the we just had to deal with it. When sales both over promises and uses promised delivery dates as bait, that is a recipe for disaster that is all to common.
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:10 am

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 9):
I know it's a strange rumour... it doesn't really make sense to me, it's not logical at all... or Leahy is really stupid.

Or maybe they are going to play blame the American.
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deltadc9
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:37 am

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 9):
I know it's a strange rumour... it doesn't really make sense to me, it's not logical at all... or Leahy is really stupid.

It makes more sense than you know. That is exactly why production hates sales in most companies. They over promise because they just want a signature, they dont have to deliver.

This points to a major weakness within most corporations, accountability. Each department works for the same organization, and have little power over each other.

This is why outsourcing is so popular, if another company screws up, you have a contract with terms and you hire someone else. When an internal department screws up, they dont work for you so you have no power unless the board sides with you.

It is very hard to outsource sales, so this will remain a weakness.

Quoting Atmx2000 (Reply 11):
Or maybe they are going to play blame the American.

Blaming sales is more logical, if this is true, and he is in charge. American or not, the boss needs to be raked over the coals if this is true.
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/

Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:42 am

Very interesting. It seems the people at Airbus Hamburg (who were blamed by Forgeard during the infamous radio interview) are now pointing the finger at the "New Yorkean"  Smile Leahy.

Babelfish translation:

Quote:

According to DER Spiegel, another member of the hierarchy of Airbus is from now on on the bolster for the delays of the giant plane. It acts of the sales manager of the manufacturer, the American John Leahy, shown to have validated special requests customers who resulted in additional times of potentially several months.

The sales manager of the aeronautical manufacturer European Airbus, the American John Leahy, is the subject of "internal criticisms" concerning the delays of delivery of the giant plane A380, brings back the weekly magazine der Spiegel. According to the magazine, these criticisms relate to the fact that the American would have, a few months ago still, "endorsed special requests customers, although the definition of the configuration of the plane and parts necessary to this one was for a long time finished". To answer these requests, the manufacturers of electric division had to develop or to order additional cables which partly required "a delivery period of several months", adds der Spiegel.

The new Yorkean sales manager sent a written request pressing to his colleagues so that these operations are carried out quickly on the plane, with the intention to mask its too great flexibility towards the customers, continues the magazine, quoting a person in charge for Airbus of Hamburg.

"an operation of diversion"

November 10, this letter "is also perceived like an operation of diversion" at Airbus in Toulouse and at head office EADS, believes it der Spiegel. According to the magazine, "that could mean that persons in charge were informed of the problems during the production for A380 much earlier than they do not want to recognize it".

The European airframe manufacturer announced on June 13 of important carryforwards of delivery from six to seven months, because of difficulties of wiring of the apparatuses. This advertisement caused a calling into question of the direction of EADS, and particularly of its copresident, Noël Forgeard, owner of Airbus until 2005. The polemic still swelled after the revelation that Noël Forgeard had sold, with a strong appreciation, titles EADS, three months before this advertisement.
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:58 am

Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
If this is indeed true, then the customers should, IMO, take some of the blame for requiring re-work at such a late point.

The blame still has to lie with the company. The sales team and production teams HAVE to be close enough that they can give the customer the contractual CHOICE between a 6 - 12 month delay and the wiring configuration he/she wants. Put the onus for the delay on the customer - but airbus didn't do this.

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 10):
I personally dont recall ever working on a project where sales did not do whatever they needed to do to get a contract signed, and the we just had to deal with it.

Me neither, but I have worked on one where we (production) froze the head office sales team out of the loop and dealt with the customer (Intel) directly.
It was the only way we could engineer a mutually acceptable, deliverable solution after being landed in a right "pickle".
(We got a 10/10 customer rating afterwards, for a product that was late and below spec, but we got the rating because we were completely honest from the word go  biggrin  )

(BTW the product was an ultra high purity nitrogen generator)

Regards
 
billreid
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:10 am

it is not possible that sales would simply modify aircraft without coordination with engineering and production. you guys have never worked in management if you don't understand the communication process.

If a customer has a request, then the question needs to be signed off internally. If the request is doable and the impact on the programme in nil then the go ahead is approved.

There is always a process.

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WarmNuts
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:57 am

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 6):
...he accepted some modifications (from customers) of the cabin layout way after they were finalized and after everything needed (for the original layout) was ordered and prepared. Due to these late modifications, Airbus had to order or develop new wires... that's what is supposed to be the cause of the delay.

Sounds to be a simple issue of requirements change management. As DeltaDC9 said, this happens all the time. And the greater the complexity & the later in the development lifecycle such customer-driven requirements changes take place, the greater the likelihood that such changes will result in a slip in schedule.

What surprises me is that such a risk is easily identifiable up front, when it's cheap to mitigate -- it seems obvious the degree of possible customer customization is in all likelihood a direct function of aircraft size -- the more room airlines have to customize their space, the greater the variation in build-out an Airbus or Boeing can expect.

Why such an integral part of the development as the wiring (and its role in customer-driven customization) was overlooked seems indicative of poor management processes or practices.

Oh... and while I myself am new here, Welcome on Board, Vincent.  Smile

Regarding the following:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
If this is indeed true, then the customers should, IMO, take some of the blame for requiring re-work at such a late point.

As has been mentioned, customer-driven requirements changes -- even late in the project's development lifecycle -- are common and to be expected.

However, there is nothing wrong with identifying time-driven deadlines after which the vendor is relieved of accountability for any schedule slippage resulting from the late change requests.

Once again, though, such sentiment is tempered by my own belief that any change this late in the development cycle is doable without a schedule slippage... as long as it's identified and planned for before it occurs. Solving such problems are what effective managers do. Effective risk mitigation and requirements change processes assist both managers and engineers in doing so.

Quoting DeltaDC9 (Reply 12):
That is exactly why production hates sales in most companies. They over promise because they just want a signature, they dont have to deliver.

This points to a major weakness within most corporations, accountability. Each department works for the same organization, and have little power over each other.

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JayinKitsap
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:54 am

Quoting Revelation (Thread starter):
he is not expecting production to normalise until between factory numbers 30 and 40, i.e. not before mid-2007

This indicated that plane #30 to #40 was mid 2007, but #30 is now 1Q 09 that is over 18 months after the date noted last November.


I had noted in "How Will The A 380 Delay Affect EK's Expansion?

I had a hard time tracking down the source but my recollection of original schedule of deliveries (before the 1st delay and production along with the current Airbus schedule announced on the 13th is:

Original Revised Shortfall
First Delivery April 06 Dec 06
Production 2006 8 1 -7
Production 2007 28 9 -19
Production 2008 28 19 -9
Production 2009 28 23 -5
Airbus was discussing a 4 per month production rate or 48 per year by around 2009.

So the 30th plane delivered moved from 4Q 07 to 1Q 09 18 months late
 
adh214
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:14 am

Quoting BillReid (Reply 15):
it is not possible that sales would simply modify aircraft without coordination with engineering and production. you guys have never worked in management if you don't understand the communication process.

If a customer has a request, then the question needs to be signed off internally. If the request is doable and the impact on the programme in nil then the go ahead is approved.

There is always a process.

Yes, there is always a process but the sales people particularly Leahy are very high in the Airbus hierarchy.

I am suspect Leahy told the customer "We can do that," and then went back to the engineers to get them to figure it out. Since the customer has already been promised the change, Leahy now had to sell the change to the executives and engineers. Since Leahy could sell ice to eskimos I sure that was not a problem and boom here we are.

The problem is that project managers are typically not help in high regard at companies and are overruled by sales and management. I have seen it happen over and over again. Sales gets what sales wants. The rest of us just have to figure out something and be firm about the necessary time and resources we need.

Andrew
 
eclipz
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:16 pm

I guess you're right, problem with salesmen promising something without verifying if it's doable in time. Maybe they didn't suspect it would bring wiring problems... but it seems to be a beginner's fault to me.

By the way, does anybody have an idea of who (which customer) asked for what (modifications) ?

Thank you WarmNuts.

Vincent
 
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Tue Jun 27, 2006 6:27 pm

Quoting WarmNuts (Reply 16):
Sounds to be a simple issue of requirements change management. As DeltaDC9 said, this happens all the time. And the greater the complexity & the later in the development lifecycle such customer-driven requirements changes take place, the greater the likelihood that such changes will result in a slip in schedule.

What surprises me is that such a risk is easily identifiable up front, when it's cheap to mitigate -- it seems obvious the degree of possible customer customization is in all likelihood a direct function of aircraft size -- the more room airlines have to customize their space, the greater the variation in build-out an Airbus or Boeing can expect.

Why such an integral part of the development as the wiring (and its role in customer-driven customization) was overlooked seems indicative of poor management processes or practices.

I recall reading that lack of proper change management was the main cause of the Boeing production meltdown of the late 90's.
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/

Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:59 pm

Even more interesting is the view from 5/2006

Quote:
During our visit to Airbus headquarters in Toulouse during May, we met with Charles Champion. Champion is the head of the A380 program for Airbus.

We discussed the A350 redesign, which was the hot topic at the time. The discussion routinely turned to the A380, and just as routinely, we noted the previously announced six month delay in the program. It was only natural to ask Champion if any further delays in the program were likely. This was on May 15.

Champion responded unequivocally: there would be no further delays. [The] Emirates [A380] will fly this summer. We have a tough fight to the end of the year to deliver the aircraft, Champion said. Its a volume-of-work issue. There are no major issues with the aircraft… The aircraft is close to certification.

Fast forward to the week of June 12, not 30 days later. Airbus announces a further delay of up to seven months.

As we reviewed our notes of the Champion interview, recounted above, we followed up with Airbus, inquiring whether Champion knew of the delay when we talked. The Airbus response:

The program (certification, first delivery, and entry-into-service) is not delayed. There are delays within the delivery stream as a result of the production process.

That's not a program delay.

http://www.leeham.net/filelib/ScottsColumn062006.pdf
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leelaw
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/

Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:58 pm

Kinda like trying to hide behind your little finger. Pure dissembling sophistry and nothing but word parsing  spin . Very Clintonesque.

Mr. Champion told Sarah Montague the same tale on the BBC's "Hardtalk" interview program in mid-May as well, see: RE: Airbus Champion's Hard Talk (by Leelaw May 22 2006 in Civil Aviation).

Giving Mr. Champion the benefit of the doubt, the "production audit" commissioned to determine the depth and breadth of the "wiring-harness imbroglio" was ongoing at the time; you'd think he would have be a little less categorical in his remarks had he known the extent of the problem that would ultimately be uncovered by the "production audit." Nevertheless, the net effect is that he now looks like a dissembling boob with a low "credibilty index," this type of silly spin doesn't seem to advance his recovery process.
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:50 pm

Quoting BoomBoom (Reply 21):
The program (certification, first delivery, and entry-into-service) is not delayed. There are delays within the delivery stream as a result of the production process.

That's not a program delay.

So is Mr. Champion saying he only holds responsiblity for the "program" and not for the "production process"?
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deltadc9
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/2005

Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:30 pm

Quoting BillReid (Reply 15):
it is not possible that sales would simply modify aircraft without coordination with engineering and production. you guys have never worked in management if you don't understand the communication process.

If a customer has a request, then the question needs to be signed off internally. If the request is doable and the impact on the programme in nil then the go ahead is approved.

There is always a process.

Lets get real.

I work in the project management office of a Fortune 100 company and I can tell you you are not correct. Sales guys get their respective companies in a bind ALL the time. It is not really all their fault, they are under tremendous pressure from the entire company to sell sell sell. No sales, no company.

It works like this:

You are the waiter in a restaurant that prides itself in serving its customers promptly in 20 minutes.

A customer comes in that is good friends with your manager and says he will give you a big tip if you get it to him in 15, and by the way he has substitutions he is willing to pay extra for.

Do you tell him no? Of course not! You ask your manager and he says he is one of our best customers and you will give him what he wants or he will get someone else who can.

The poor cook at this point really doesn't have much say, sure he protests, and says it cant be done in the given time unless something changes, but he wants his job too.

It is the manager that has the power to make this work or let his people fail, and the decisions he makes as far as customer relations, vendor management, resource allocation, and time line management will either help the kitchen get everything done on time, or be the root cause of a failure.

After all, it was the manager saying "give him what he wants" that started the whole mess in the first place so management would be doubly at fault for any failure, not the cook, and not the waiter.

I think we know who is who in that story.

The only difference between Boeing and Airbus right now is that Boeing is doing a better job at assessing and mitigating risk with proper project management.

Quoting Eclipz (Reply 19):
I guess you're right, problem with salesmen promising something without verifying if it's doable in time. Maybe they didn't suspect it would bring wiring problems... but it seems to be a beginner's fault to me.

No, he is not right.
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BoomBoom
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RE: A380 Wiring Problems: Champion's View From 11/

Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:38 am

The program (certification, first delivery, and entry-into-service) is not delayed. There are delays within the delivery stream as a result of the production process.

That's not a program delay.


Quoting Leelaw (Reply 22):
Pure dissembling sophistry and nothing but word parsing spin

If the program manager would tell a bald face lie like this they are capable of anything. And if he wasn't lying, he doesn't know what's going on with the program he is supposedly "managing". Either way it looks awful.

Yet it's amazing how many people swallow the line about the A380 performing "better than expected". I'll believe it when SQ says so.
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