Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boeing takes a dive with ‘nightmareliner’

This is quite a turnaround for Boeing, which is America's largest exporter. Barely a year ago, the company was doing well. Or so it seemed. ...
The structural flaw that has grounded Boeing's 787 Dreamliner will likely add months of delay to the new jet program, an executive with one of Boeing's key Japanese partners said Wednesday.

Kiyotaka Ichimaru, an executive at the aerospace division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which makes the 787's carbon-fiber composite plastic wings in Japan, also said the problem announced Tuesday stems from Boeing's engineering design, not MHI's — an assessment confirmed by Boeing.

Ichimaru said MHI engineers are drawing upon the experience of similar problems on the Mitsubishi F-2 jet-fighter program in working with Boeing to fix the problem: a need for reinforcement of the structure where the Dreamliner's wing is joined to the load-bearing box at the center of the fuselage.

Ichimaru doesn't believe the structural flaw represents a fundamental safety concern.

"We are not seeing this as a very, very serious issue," he said in an interview Wednesday.

It's the business consequences of the new delay that may be more damaging. Boeing shares fell another 5.8 percent Wednesday after losing 6.5 percent Tuesday, when the company unexpectedly said it would postpone the Dreamliner's scheduled first flight. The company's stock has lost $5.58 in two days, shrinking its total market value by $4 billion.
Inside and outside the 787 operating theatre
US media wakes up to Dreamliner nightmare
Boeing's Nightmare Liner Two years ago, when its maiden flight was supposed to usher in a new era of high-speed, low fuel-consumption aircraft for the world's airlines -- and a new era of profits for Boeing shareholders -- the "Boeing Dreamliner" name was apropos. But now you need to make it official: The 787 is now and forevermore to be designated the Boeing Nightmare Liner.

Yesterday, Boeing announced its latest delay in the maiden voyage of "ZA001," Boeing's code for the first prototype 787. The stock promptly crashed -- down 6.5% on the day -- and has continued to burn today -- down another 6% as of this writing. Which brings Boeing to a total of over 60% worth of market cap destroyed since the company first began announcing delays in the project.

Dan Rather reports on Boeing's use of composite materials in the construction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and introduces the concerns of former Boeing engineer Vince Weldon to the flying public.