Monday, December 9, 2013

The Dog Days Of Delay "The Glitch's That Steals Christmas"

A Christmas tale comes our way with a dark slant towards, "The Glitch That Stole Christmas", is a real reality that plagues airlines like Air India.  Boeing moved its overly complex 787 to market without testing the supply chain completeness from its suppliers to real world flow of five to ten 787 a month. Coming out of its factory (X's 2). During the testing phase all parts came across in a carefully considered, and tested manner for each test aircraft LN1-LN6.  Production floor of real time assembly was not part of tests that would measure reliability for all its supplying partners. Everybody came across and said "A OK",  and no problem man! Or welcome to Jamaica! Or something clear like that when asked about how they will do when asked about productivity of the 787, and its output each month. Battery was A-OK and checked in 2010 and ready to come out and play.

Air India became a constant complainer that I have taken shots at as they managed the excuse flow in a constant stream every time a delivery was ready on the Boeing board. It seemed the Glitch would steal a delivery and make India's financial planners gleeful as the next 787 would sit another 3 weeks before a delivery. It made the cash flow operations of Air India flexible.

Air India’s Dreamliner fleet has had 136 ‘minor’ problems: Ajit Singh


One hundred thirty-six Minor's hit its fleet during 14 months,, breaks down to about 10 glitches a month with its fleet of 8, 787. Or about one glitch a month for each aircraft if your an averaging type of person. The glitches that stole Christmas for Air India was wide a varied suggesting production is not spot on or its suppliers have consistently provided that Boeing depends on. ANA has had problems too as well as JAL Where JAL has demonstrated a loss vote of confidence through its Airbus A350 order earlier this Fall. Those 31 Airbus were a symbolic block number that Boeing expected and did not receive when considering it would get a follow-on order from JAL, as JAL continued building of its wide body fleet, only with Airbus. However Air India does lend support to the glitching as not something insurmountable and something that can be manage. Many of Boeing's customers are in the same condition as Air India with the "Glitch That's Stealing Christmas" problem. 

Note from India:

"New Delhi: Air India’s Dreamliner fleet suffered 136 “minor” technical problems between their delivery since September last year and till late last month, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has said.
All these problems were fixed by the airline’s and Boeing’s technical teams, he said in Lok Sabha. Observing that a Boeing team was currently in India to upgrade the software in these planes, he said each Boeing 787 Dreamliner is being grounded for ten days since the beginning of this month for maintenance and these upgrades.
Since September 2012, when the plane’s induction began, till 27 November this year, “136 minor technical snags have occurred on these aircraft which were fixed by Boeing/Air India technical teams with alacrity,” he said in reply to questions.
Observing that Air India was constantly in touch with Boeing on the issue of technical reliability of these new aircraft, he said a team of engineers and technicians from the American manufacturer was installing a reliability enhancement package involving upgrades to the software and components in the aircraft. The Boeing team is also involved in the root cause analysis and evolving remedial measures, he said."
Another Glitch related gremlin remark follows:
"Regarding a panel falling out of the belly of one Dreamliner as it landed in Bengaluru few months ago, Singh said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was probing the incident and its report is awaited.
On the overseas battery-fire incident this January involving the same aircraft operated by a Japanese carrier and consequential grounding of Dreamliners the world over, the minister said the requisite rectification was carried out on the battery units of the aircraft of Air India, following which the planes were put back in service in May."
Air India is ready to move forward with its investment. It is interesting to note how subdued the Indian response is for all those 136 glitches on its fleet. Perhaps all that irritated posturing before each delivery from a glitch was a an exhale and a sigh of relief they purchased a winner. The glitch wants to steal Christmas as the press eagerly awaits its next problem found in an emerging aircraft. The sanctification of the Boeing 787 is not long in the wait. Boeing has tasked itself with an all hands on deck assembly of its most expert team members for tracking down anomalies found on the 787. The first 787-9 will be light years ahead of the LN10 aircraft sitting in Everett's EMC warehouse awaiting upgrades to the level of the last 787 built this week. Those aircraft in the EMC are sitting for a long while more since both the customer  and Boeing are waiting together for a completeness delivery time. That time is driven by the customer as to when it will take delivery. Those terrible teens are deeply discounted early production numbers. Each month that goes by, is one more month in EMC catching up those aircraft with today's out the door delivery. Once the customer signals ready for delivery, they will be delivered within two months of that call out.
The Glitch that Steals Christmas is any lack of patience in this process of meeting original expectation. Expectation starts with this short list.
  • 15% fuel economy over current aircraft. Done= 20%
  • All electric architecture is the answer= Battery issue is a RIP issue today
  • Systems Update requirements. Ongoing for the life of computer systems and airplane
These are of the few of the major issue not defined after the first dozen delivered aircraft. The Glitching really going down and has permanent installations or solutions driving each glitch away from the aircraft. Software upgrades, installation procedures correcting weaknesses revealed during long term operation, and changes in the supply chain. All these are the maturation of any aircraft model. Overstating for what it really is, is how the news works. The 787 is made with millions first time parts and systems is doing well as expected. Millions of opportunities exist out there with this overly tested aircraft. But the right combinations of conditions come up on the 787 during daily operations. 

That is where safety measure anticipate any kind of failure and report. Once the 787 lands a s system reports that 136th glitch to Air India and Boeing is brought in to perfect the 787 one more time. The 787 is being cured as a fine piece of art fused with science and engineering. The glitch report makes it one step closer too perfection watching those millions lines of code, million parts, and the all new architecture  never before used. Now the customer have its say through how the 787 speaks to them. Boeing relies on the 787 feedback after its rigorous testing program. Because of the glitching the customers are building a better aircraft. Airbus can't say that at this time. The best aircraft will emerge in two years at which time the 787 maturation is dependent on what the 787 reports. 

It will heal itself by flying more and more. The systems are there to keep it so safe and dependable. The battery glitch is the prime example. In another era you would have seen a sky bound fire ball without any solution. The 787 landed safely multiple times with battery issues, enabling a battery solution of major importance. The longer the 787 flies in this stage the greater Boeing sets a lead over it competition with its gamble.