Friday, July 26, 2013

Reputation Dilemma Hits The 787

Back in Highschool when I was growing up. My parents placed high on the list my own reputation, as the thing that must be protected by being consistently a good person. Of course at age 16, I could not and would not understand that principal in life until the process of living settles that talking point; establishing  itself in real life experience. Remember back when a certain girl in your glass went out with an athletic type braggart, and he comes back with a brag explaining on Monday, "what an easy conquest he had made over said person". Twenty years later at the High School reunion, the sneers, sideways glances and whispers still remain about some forgotten date that some Jock made, whether it is true or not is not important. A reputation ruined then; where it remains still ruined, about a mother, wife and solid friend to her husband.

Boeing's own date of the 787's entry into service has suffered such a calamity as news sites sell self importance and give an expert copy/paste opinion without weighing the big picture. It chortled for five years about the 787's delivery failure of being "7-Late-7" about the three years period of being late. Now the press is currently reporting about every event, even though these events are a serious concern for the aircraft, but in a sinister light casting doom for the aircraft. Airbus, many years ago experienced a total hull during a demonstration flight in front of cameras killing all of its crew in fiery crash. The systems that day on board, countermanded the pilots intuitive response for a stall condition. The system thought it was landing, and the system flew it into the trees. After that, overrides where installed for its newly conceived A320's and pilots.

However dogging the 787 is in the news maybe of interest to most and important to report, but what is really missing from these instant reports is a perspective for the aircraft. Comparing it to the historical data base of aircraft flying today. After the A300 came the A319,A320, A330,A340 and A380. A remarkable string of success for Airbus. Even though the A330 suffered a catastrophic hull loss over the Atlantic not so long ago, on flight #442, from Brazil to Paris, they kept moving forward in spite of the Press' admonitions over Transatlantic flight with a faulty pitot tube and systems over rides, inspite of pilot options it plunged a long way into the sea anyways, with all onboard perrishing. A high price for aviation is still being paid for what we take for granted in today's air travel.

Having stated this thought, it is important not just to parrot the news, but do ones own reporting by placing perspective into each news report. Just the press didn't do that when the 787 was late. Each article back then regarding advances, accomplishments and refinements, was followed by an obligatory cut and paste snip " The Late 787 by X months." Each statement  seamed to give insane thought and validity by recitation time, after time no matter what the article was talking about.

An article would detail out what accomplishment was made by the 787 and copy paste in the "The Reputation Statement" by adding for the thousandth time, that a 787 is now 19 months late. Next month the readers would be reminded that is is 20 months late until 3 plus year where one can occasionally find a time quote.  After all when Boeing made that original delivery announcement it was intoxicated with it own success of presenting a plastic body for the world, on July 7, 2007. This company drunk too much from its own innovation and set its feet in the cement of the press time machine by saying it would fly by October 2007. "Woah dudes you've been over served at the paint hanger. The clock starting running at Boeing's own stagger out the door. Now the reputation of Boeing is brought up at every news article. For the next ten years the public will have to read about fire smoke and mishap; as if that article is about fire, smoke and mishap, when the headlines print out the "787 Has Superb Performance". A copy paste paragraph of fire smoke and mishap will run counter of the lead headline by reciting it out like a 787 date night reputation, which it will have to endure for the rest of its life as its spouted out by the goofy press class reunions.

Boeing is working through this quantum leap of technology with a careful review of its workmanship and its suppliers workmanship, as it should in the manufacture of all aircraft. Flying itself is dangerous and our society takes it for granted and press reports flying as a norm while giving sensational impact for every part failure, which has be occurring all along with older models of aircraft makes. Perspective is that piece of reputation gossip missing from the press dialogue. Knowing that the 787 has the same or similar track record that the 777, and the Airbus aircraft is important so the press reports how it compares with order models when airlines are flying the most complex aircraft in aviation's history. This airplane is not that soiled or tarnished than all its predecessors. She will make a great travel companion for years to come.