Sunday, July 27, 2014

IS Boeing's Correction Complete?

Many of the leadership principals at Boeing  during 2003 have retired or moved laterally to other industry, such as the likes of Allan Mullaly going to Ford. He happened to lead it resurgence on company money and not the Government. He "focused"  Ford. He also was part of Boeing's "Moon Shot" leaders when the 787 was introduced. Mullaly and others were present during the 7-8-7 roll-out of the first all plastic shell of an aircraft. This was the moon shot.  Seven years later Mullaly  has retired from the Ford Motor company. McNerney is at the controls in 2014 facing a mandatory retirement rule for Corporate leaders. Is Boeing retreating under leadership of new Generals in charge. Will it just play it safe on innovation as so many former leaders did when Airbus seized its strong position. Risk and reward is is the clever balance for Boeing at this time.

Will Boeing sit on its hard fought and gained position as Airplane innovator and builder or will rest on its achievements while solidifying its market place. I think McNerney and others feel its time just to cash in on the Boeing innovation dividend and makes its family complete with all the 787 attributes spread amongst the family members. The 787 is Boeing's Opus.  The other family members will pick its DNA bones for relevancy over the next two decades.

787 Dividends found in the following on aircraft design:

  • The Max: Engine advancements and 787 like avionics
  • The 777X Engine advancements, plastic wings, Laninar Flow Technology systems, 787 commonalities
  • The 747-8i  787 Engine designs, advanced wing technology, 787 like avionics,

Boeing is now like those great pastry bakers of the world preparing a fine desert or roll. Its letting the dough of ingredients rest over-night under refrigeration. Its also time to see what the competition can do. So far its been a hap-hazard response. The A350 is shrinking back to a role player not a leader. The A320 NEO has launched out well during a time where the 787 had gathered the attention of industry with 787 uncertainty, and the MAX was not yet announced. Airbus continues to reel in orders on the A320 NEO, even though Boeing continues to break ground with first time customers for its Max. Its good news for both on the single aisle market. The fact that Boeing has turned several customers toward the MAX during  head to head order battles with the A320 NEO, suggest that Boeing MAX specifications and performance measures meet and exceed the NEO constructs. Those new customers look at both aircraft makers without bias and then choose what makes sense for themselves.

The future of aviation in now under contemplation. Looking what each maker has done defines what may become for the next generation of aircraft. Will it become an incremental change over the next 20 years or another Moon Shot. The second moon shot could be taken by the company with the most certain ability backing it.

Concerning Boeing, I can speculate that with its current temperament from leadership, they will will seek risk taking once again on the military side of projects with its drone programs. In truth, Boeing is developing a platform for future commercial aircraft but would like to secure this knowledge through the military side. Currently fighter type drones are able to take -off and land on aircraft carriers. If Boeing can do this today, it very possible and feasible for massive blended Wing Bodies in 30 years will have made its entrance into aviation. Think about suites on board like the A380 is currently installing. A blended wing body aircraft could easily carry 600 passengers or provide a massive cargo holds accepting irregular sizes and shapes. The technology to do this project already exist in engine development, plastic body process and advanced electronic avionics. Moving all these capabilities into the military arena for the next 20 years is a safe haven for this advancement. Going into the commercial would be a progression of technology as in steps applied in non commercial programs. At some point, Boeing will necessitate another moon looking shot when it isn't that kind of program. Something so different will come out from Boeing that people will think its a quantum leap, when actually it will be a natural progression forward with consistent results and proven advancements before it appears into a perceived moon shot. Boeing will execute such an advancement as a part of its output proven technology portfolio. The 787 project could not gracefully migrate from an Idea to a flying copy without numerous glitches, which Airbus attempted not to try.

Incremental steps will occur from Boeing on the military project side. When those benchmarks are cleared up handling a Blended Wing Body concept or other drone flying bodies are accomplished, then Boeing will bring that technology rather quickly over to the other side of its vast commercial complexes in full scale.. The concluding thought Boeing is doing step technology behind the scenes, and no moon shots for the future. Its doing that step technology in the form of space exploration applications and military systems which can be readily applied to the commercial side after the next 20 years.