If flightglobal didn't protest so much about this, one would think that there was some conduit (yes, financial metaphor - remember? off the books) in place.
The plane that you sit in is essentially a tube being pulled along by the engines. So, believe it when they say that the wing-body join is crucial. If it breaks, ... This join has a very significant role. Too, it is a very difficult thing to design. Why?
It has serious aerodynamic requirements at higher speeds, and it has to be strong enough to handle the loads (meaning more than carrying around a bunch of sitting passengers and their luggage, okay?). The design for the first set of requirements (the external look) can be analyzed prior to flight (somewhat) but is something that flight testing (and lifetime performance) validates. The second set of requirements deals with the internal structures and seems to be where the current problem is found.
The design issues of the wing-body join have caused many to tear their hairs out. Higher speeds, minimizing efforts at material and weight, the computational sirens of modern technology, and other things make the design issues very difficult to solve. We will get into part of this further.
The associated knowledge, folks, is what is called a competitive advantage and usually is proprietary. For some reason, Boeing decided to farm this baby out to others (where is the soul of this thing?). Then, they seemed to have let the oversight of this crucial piece lapse. Why?
Was it relief at getting rid of the problem? Ah, how many Boeing engineers are sick at hearing about the current state?
Well, the middle-out issues apply here; we'll discuss that, too.
04/07/2012 -- Flightblogger ends, as least, Jon's watch. Some issues raised five years ago are still apropos. The context may have changed a little, yet, perhaps now is time to re-address the themes.
02/03/2011 -- The topic of this post can be used for a whole bit of discussion.