Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Out on a limb

It seems that Boeing may be out on a limb with its 787 project with the limb cracking. We're almost two years past the 'potemkin' roll-out. That there was recently delay news (again) opens up a can of worms requiring analysis and comment.

Here are a couple of items to start a long list.

-- Announcements just prior to the recent delay news were awfully hopeful and essentially misleading (actually, can we say that they were untrue?). Where is the board? What is the disconnect that we see with Boeing's board and management? How can the board sit idly by and let this comedy of errors continue? Two years ago, a Boeing press release exclaimed that the first 787 was getting put together for the roll-out and reminded us all that the plan was to fit pieces from far away places together in just three days. That same year, management kept promising that first delivery would be May 2008 until late in the year. In fact, one manager (PR type) was talking this just a day before Boeing announced its first delay. This type of disjoint communication speaks a lot about underlying problems. Of course, many of the problems may be technically beyond the grasp of the board. But, are they making proper efforts?

-- There seems to be a disconnect between engineering and management. But, how can we know with the widely scattered team that bridges across countries and cultures? Now, the computer was ostensibly the means to bridge the disparity. But, we have already seen Boeing recognize that it has to bring some of the work back in house and more thoroughly monitor the work of partners (sub-contractors) as a means to reduce the rework. Too, the computer was used in lieu of prototyping as a cost-saving measure. Hah! Those who know realize that the physical modeling is not mature enough for this belief. Would the wise advise caution since the science of composites is so new compared to metals? How could the board allow this belief to grow to such an extent that it put Boeing out on the limb and it culminated in a sequence of misadventures that would be comical if the matter was not so serious?

These are only two of many items that will be discussed further.

But, let's be specific, please. The blog is written by someone who has worked CAD/CAE, KBE, and the like. Okay? But, he also knows that we have run off way too strongly after the sirens (yes, of mythology) of computation. That we have many of a gaming generation can be a little disconcerting. The metrics of reality are quite a bit different than that of 'virtual' reality. The 787 has to fly in the natural and not the computational world. See discussion on Truth Engineering.

flightglobal's poll shows that about 300 people think that the project is doomed. Interesting, indeed. We could probably find a few who thought this back in 2005.


09/02/2009 -- Lets face it, folks, undecidability needs to be discussed and adopted in any complex situational setting, especially if computers are involved. Only hubris pushes us to make loud exclamations about what we're going to do in the future.

09/01/2009 -- Scott C is riding off to the sunset. Jim A will take over the reins. Everyone wonders what the new schedule announcement means in that it was right before this changeover. Just as with the finance folk, it has been exacerbated and accelerated by common use of mathematics and computing. See prior Remark.

07/23/2009 -- Some confoundedness results from not handling underdetermination properly. Of course, the whole thing is not new; it has been exacerbated and accelerated by common use of mathematics and computing. The genie is out of the bottle, folks. Hubris, in the modern age, will not relate back to engineers who have pen holders in their pockets. That is, those who resolve issues like we're seeing here will mostly be non-elite, and money does not buy the solution.

07/05/2009 -- Recent comments suggests a too strong belief in the computational.

Modified: 09/02/2009

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