SeattlePI columnist Bill Virgin writes a great column this morning on Boeing executives losing credibility over the third delay in the 787 Dreamliner’s roll-out. He lays some blame on the move of Boeing’s corporate HQ from Seattle to Chicago. He quotes a source who asked: "Did the guy who knows how to make airplanes move to Chicago or D.C.? Or did Boeing forget how to make airplanes, sort of like how Starbucks seemingly forgot how to make coffee?" Sounds like a former Boeing engineer to me. Slanted to the local view and sympathetic to Boeing’s unions that would love to see the global production plan scrapped, the column still is a good read. The only thing he omitted was irony that these delays come under CEO Jim McNerney’s stewardship of Boeing. The former GE and 3M executive is famous for making his executives deliver or suffer the consequences.
At least one customer greeted the latest news with more than just passing concern: All Nippon Airways (ANA) issued the following statement yesterday. “We are extremely disappointed: this is the third delay in the delivery of the first aircraft, and we still have no details about the full delivery schedule. We would urge Boeing to provide us with a 120% definitive schedule as soon as possible.” A statement like that makes one think one of Boeing most faithful customers could be looking more favorably at Airbus although anything like the 787 from the European aircraft maker is years off. You can bet the Boeing folks are at ANA today.
The Wall Street Journal said Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman of leasing giant International Lease Finance Corp.expressed concern over the latest delay, but conceded the new schedule is "more realistic." ILFC is the largest 787 customer with 74 planes on order.
Finally and more favorably for Boeing, the 787 program for all its delays seems to be in good hands with program manager Pat Shanahan. I’ve heard him now on two or three update calls and for guy with a job too big for anyone, his grasp of the details is superb. In January, he promised to give comprehensive review of the 787 schedule and progress and he delivered yesterday in an update to media and financial community.