ENMP586 – Industrial Technology and Innovation 2
The Legend of Flights
Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Student ID: 1354995
After World war II, like most of the advanced technologies, the application starts with the military, the heavy bombers gets modified for post-war usages like transporting cargo and people. Ever after the first-generation bombers like B-29 and Lancaster begin their new mission in commercial flights, the ways for people to travel globally has shifted from shipping liners to commercial airliners.
This new way of traveling become dominate transportations very soon. It provides a better, faster and more exciting way for all of us. The long-range trip becomes less suffering or even in some cases is an enjoyable experience. The commercial airplane gives ordinary people a chance to touch the sky, literally, an experience for most of the people can be the dream of in day to day life.
Even with this enormous global market, there are only two major players in it – the Boeing and the Airbus. Of course, there is much smaller plane manufactures all over the world, but at the moment they don’t present any threats to these two companies. Since the 1990s, Boeing and the Airbus already become the only pair competitors within the global aerospace industry. This resulted from a series of mergers within the global aerospace industry, with Airbus beginning as a European consortium while the American Boeing absorbed its former arch-rival, McDonnell Douglas, in a 1997 merger. Other manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin, Convair and Fairchild Aircraft in the United States, and British Aerospace and Fokker in Europe, were no longer in a position to compete effectively and withdrew from this market (Wikipedia, 2018).
In this article, I will focus on the 787 Dreamliner. This famous model belongs to Boeing. The development on this project experienced many difficult periods, the delivery has been postponed for many times, but all that proved to be worth the effort eventually as it becomes the most popular long-haul, mid-sized widebody, a twin-engine airliner.
The Boeing Company
Boeing engineers and technologists have started the innovations from 1906. 34462521782609Figure 1. William E. Boeing in 1929
Figure 1. William E. Boeing in 1929
38502762159000In March 1910, William E. Boeing bought Heath’s shipyard in Seattle on the Duwamish River, which later became his first airplane factory. Boeing, who studied at Yale University, worked initially in the timber industry, where he became wealthy and learned about wooden structures. This knowledge proved invaluable in his subsequent design and assembly of airplanes (Wikipedia, 2018). Right after the US has declared war in World War I on Germany, a month later, the “Boeing Airplane Company” become the official name which representing an independent and soon legend company in the history.
Fast forward to nowadays, according to the latest annual report from the Boeing Company, it is now the leading manufacturer for commercial airplanes and the largest aerospace company globally. Other than the dominants in these fields, Boeing is also one of the most important players in the Defense Industry, Space, and Security System as a key provider to the US military, government and some of the commercial aerospace services. By the time I’m writing this report, the Boeing and SpaceX are started to train NASA’s astronauts to perform their first commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station. This will be the first in the human history and the first-time crewed mission launched from the US soil after the retirement of the space shuttles.
Now as the top exporter of commercial jets in the US, Boeing providing variety type of planes to both the US airliner and other customers in more than 150 countries. Most of their products and services are highly customized. Given the nature of pricing Boeing’s airplane, each airliner come up with their own settings to make sure they can have an advantage in the day to day commercial airline services.
Another part for Boeing’s business is supplying satellites, launching system, military aircraft, defense systems, and advanced information and communication system, engineering modification and maintenance, supply chain services and training. Deliver training is a great part to support the growth of their business. Since almost all of the products of Boeing are highly advanced and complicated, to make sure their customers can use their product safely and have a satisfying experience which can help to grow more business opportunities, the Boeing company provides training at all levels to their customers.
The 787 Dreamliner is their most recent and most revolutionary development in the area of a commercial airplane for the last decade. Although from the appearance, it still looks like a traditional airplane, it’s actually not what appears. We will have a detailed discussion on it later on.
The Boeing company was founded in 1916 in Seattle, Washington, US. Now the head office has moved to Chicago, Illinois. This headquarters only performs the general management role, not the actual manufacturing. Since the 787 is the main character in this report, then we have look where this beautiful plane is being assembled.
To build mage planes like 747 and 787, you will need a mage factory to build them. Currently, Boeing has 7 manufacturing facilities across the US, they are Boeing Everett Factory, Boeing Field, Boeing Plant 1, Boeing Plant 2, Boeing Renton Factory, Boeing South Carolina and Michoud Assembly Facility. In the next section, we will talk about more on Boeing Everett Factory.
The Boeing Everett Factory
When we mentioned the Boeing company, the most signature picture come into our mind would be the mage factory where inside is on constant assembling process of many mage planes. This image in our mind comes from the Boeing Everett Factory. It’s so famous that the facility itself attract more than 150,000 people visit it to experience this marvel of engineering and the see how the planes are built.
This facility located at the north-east corner in the Plaine Field. Based on the nature of the location, you already know it’s not just building planes, it can provide testing functions as well as it builds on an airfield.
center93925500Back to the famous Everett Factory, it is the largest building in the world, and it also is home for Boeing’s wide-body planes like 747, 787, 777, etc. Below is a photo of the factory, you can feel the scale of it by comparing the cars in the parking lot. The space inside this factory is so large that you literally need to drive if you are trying to get from one side to another.
Figure 2. Boeing Everett Factory (ActiveLifeStyleNW, 2018)Boeing has owned this place from 1943, and iconic 747 Jumbo jet is born here in 1968. When the 787 era arrives, the factory has become overwhelmed by the orders of 787. So, Boeing has decided to move part of the 787 assemble process to a plant in North Charleston in South Carolina. At this new place, the 787-10 which is the longest variants of the 787 product family is exclusively being produced here. The reason to that is the wings for 787-10 is too long to transport by the Dreamlifter, another famous cargo plane, to Everett Factory.
History of the Dreamliner
The actual history of the Dreamliner starts from as early as January 2005 even with the concept was produced as early as 2003. Back then the model name was still 7E7 under a development code name of “Y2”, which to me both sounds less attractive than 787. From the very beginning, Boeing set this project as an entirely new design, every detail in it has adopted a radically new way to achieve the best result. Eventually, this project sets up as a much bigger plan called the Yellowstone Project and the 787 is the first stage. Once this project is accomplished, technologies from this project will benefit and improve the whole commercial airliner product line. This has been confirmed personally by myself in the last few years. The same design and technology can be easily found on the latest model of 747-8. From the outside, it has the same wing design and the same type of jet engines, from the inside, the cockpit is the same as the 787.
When we talking about the 787, we have to mention the name of the Dreamliner. This name does not come from some executives or engineers, it is being selected by the company after an online vote. In this vote, the name Dreamliner scored the highest vote count in total 500,000 votes. It became an official name for 787 in 2003, and this logo has been developed and printed on most of the 787s. Personally, this name captured the key part of people’s imagination related to sky and flying, it really is a great touch added to this great plane.
After experiencing a series of delay, the first prototype plane finished its taxi test during November in 2009. Then on December 15 the same year, few days before the Christmas, it successfully conducted its maiden flight in Washington. The test pilot is Mike Carriker, the Boeing Chief Test Pilot for the 787 Dreamliner program. If you never heard of him, it’s doesn’t matter. You can still learn a lot from him from a documentary called ‘Legends of Flight’. This is a highly recommended film, also it is the starting point of my love for the 787 Dreamliner.
Figure 3. Covers of the Legend of Flights (iTunes, 2010)
The test flights continued for nine months and there are 6 planes for different testing which has equipped with engines from Rolls-Royce or GE. Then after Boeing acquired all of the certificates required, this new plane is finally ready for delivery.
The first 787 was officially delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA) on September 25, 2011, at the Boeing factory. On October 26, 2011, an ANA 787 flew the first commercial flight from Tokyo Narita Airport to Hong Kong International Airport. The airliner was planned to enter service some three years prior. Tickets for the flight were sold in an online auction; the highest bidder had paid $34,000 for a seat. (Wikipedia, 2018) The flight marks the new age of civil aviation is started and more and more Dreamliners begin to manufacture and ship.
Figure 4. ANA logs debut commercial flight of Dreamliner (Japan Times, 2011)Product
Regarding the product, this report will only concentrate on the 787 the Dreamliner. Under this model, there are 3 variants namely as 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10. Below is a simple comparison of these three variants.
Table 1. 787 all model performance summary (Boeing, 2018)787-8 787-9 787-10
Seating 242 290
+20% vs. 787-8 330
+36% vs. 787-8
+14% vs. 787-9
Range 7,355 nmi (13,620 km) 7,635 nmi (14,140 km) 6,430 nmi (11,910 km)
Configuration Twin-Aisle Twin-Aisle Twin-Aisle
Cross Section 226 in (574 cm) 226 in (574 cm) 226 in (574 cm)
Wingspan 197 ft (60 m) 197 ft (60 m) 197 ft (60 m)
Length 186 ft (57 m) 206 ft (63 m) 224 ft (68 m)
Height 56 ft (17 m) 56 ft (17 m) 56 ft (17 m)
Cruise Speed Mach 0.85 Mach 0.85 Mach 0.85
Total Cargo Volume 4,400 ft3 (125 m3) 5,400 ft3 (153 m3) 6,200 ft3 (175 m3)
+41% vs. 787-8
+15% vs. 787-9
Max Takeoff Weight 502,500 lb (227,950 kg) 560,000 lb (254,000 kg) 560,000 lb (254,000 kg)
Up above is a table from the Boeing official website. From this table, we can see the most direct different between these 3 variants are their seat capacity and the length of the plane as the 787-8 has the smallest seat numbers and the length and the 787-10 has the largest seat numbers as well as the longest the body length.
All members in 787 families share the advantages as follows:
Exceptional Fuel Efficiency. The entire 787 families can provide a better fuel efficiency in the range of 20-25% compared to the airplanes that will be replaced by the 787.
Boeing claim 787 can reduce the maintenance by 30%. This one and the first item are all benefited from the much durable and light composites materials in the body frame and fuselage.
The easier transition for airliner pilots from 777 to 787. Only 5 days of training is needed to enable a 777 pilot to fly the new 787.
Higher speed. Top speed at 0.85 Mach, which is highest among other planes in the same size.
More revenue cargo. The newly designed 787 can provide a larger cargo bay which is a key point to generate more revenue for airline companies.
More flying days. Also, this one is due to the new material has been applied to the plane.
Nonstop routes. As a long-haul capability from 787, airlines can open more new routes which can provide more direct flights. In return, this generates more revenue for the airlines and increase the level of customer satisfaction.
Preferred passenger experience. With less connect flights and much improve the passenger experience, 787 easily win over the preference from the customers.
As mentioned earlier, the 787 Dreamliner is an all-new designed aircraft with no legacy from previous models. During this process, it created many firsts in commercial aviation history. Countless new technologies like composite material, aerodynamic, systems, engines are combined together to produce this marvel of engineering and the legend of the flights.
In the following section, I will discuss more signature technologies that raised the bar of the industry and sets the difference between Boeing and its competitors.
There are a few major shifts in building material changes ever since the planes has invented. When it’s first born, the plane was built of wood, this period has lasted after the World War I. Then with better application of aluminum, it becomes the dominant material for plane building. Up until now, the aluminum still is the first go-to the material when building an aircraft because the composite material is not that easy to apply to an old design. The only best way to use it is like designing the 787, start from the ground, this is not a risk every company wants to take.
The composite material can be referred to any type of manmade material, but in the case of Dreamliner, this material mainly reforms to the carbon fiber. Although the concept of the carbon fiber can be dated back to 1879 when Thomas Edison baked cotton threads or bamboo silvers at a high temperature in an attempt to find a material which withstands high temperature, the actual massive application wasn’t take off until after 1958 the high-performance carbon fiber was invented. In 1963, a new manufacturing process has been developed in a research center in UK which marks the time when the true potential of carbon fiber can be realized (ICE, 2018).
The carbon fiber is so versatile that it can form any shape with a certain process. Boeing has been using this advantage to build the fuselage of 787. This give the new opportunities to restructure the entire plane, also it makes lots of competitors unwell to do this as it will cost more to the company. Since the carbon fiber is much stronger than the metal in the same weight, building panes using this type of material will increase the strength of the fuselage with much less weight. A lighter takeoff weight and stronger frame contributed a lot in the form of fuel efficiency.
Also because of this characteristic, the 787 has the largest windows for passengers among any planes in service today. This also is another great sales point that can attract more passengers as the flight will be more enjoyable because you have a better view of the horizon.
Another major benefit from the carbon fiber is the brand-new wing design. With this new material, the wing can be stretched more than traditional metal ones. Meanwhile, it can provide an aspect ratio as high as 11. This gives the 787 wings a much higher wing flex than any other plane around the world. When it flies, the plane actually looks like a bird because the wing can be lifted so high. For the passengers, they would be feeling less shaking when experiencing gusts as the dampen load of the wing gets changed more effectively.
Body frame with carbon fiber changed the wing
3424096-82111800New designs like the window. The 787 has the largest windows of any commercial jet, offering passengers seated anywhere in the airplane a commanding view of the horizon.
Reduced the weight
The more robust body structure
More electric systems have been implemented.
More sensors have been added to make sure the pilot and the computer can have a much comprehensive picture of the plane.
Electric wing ice protection
Fuel efficiency boost by 20%
The 787 Family: A Benchmark in Fuel Efficiency
As mentioned before, the operation cost can change mind when an airline company looking for new planes. The fuel consumption is a key factor contributing to this cost. The newly designed the 787 Dreamliner have used multiple tactics to increase the fuel efficiency. One is the application of the carbon fiber material, this reduced the weight of the plane and gives the plane a better aerodynamic. Less weight and better performance deliver less fuel. Another one key factor is the new engine provided by Rolls-Royce and General Electric. More thrust can be generated by these two interchangeable engines and the less noise will be generated under the same condition.
The following is a comparison provided by Boeing showing its signature 20% less fuel consumption comparing previous models.
Figure 5. 787 Fuel Efficiency Comparisons (Boeing, 2018)The photo I took in China. Guangzhou Baiyun Airport a
Elegant is the word when it comes to describing this majestic plane
Benefiting from the carbon fiber (Composite Materials) body frame, it has the largest window size among all of the airplanes The joy of the flightAt last, the features of 787 can be concluded in a table below:
Table 2. Dreamliner features with benefits for airlines and passengers (C. Tang, 2009)Feature Values to Airlines (Immediate Customers) Value to Passengers (End Customers)
Composite material Faster cruising speed, which enables city-pair nonstop flights
Fuel efficiency (lighter material lowers operating cost)
Corrosion resistance (lower maintenance cost)
Stronger components that require fewer fasteners (lower manufacturing cost) Faster cruising speed, which enables city-pair nonstop flights
Higher humidity in the cabin air is allowed, which increases the comfort level
Modular design that allows for two types of engines (General Electric GEnx and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000) Flexibility to respond to future circumstances (market demand) at a reduced cost
Simplicity in design allows for rapid engine changeover Cost savings with cheaper and faster engine changeover may be passed on to passengers
Large and light sensitive windows Lower operating costs due to less need for interior lighting
‘Smart glass” window panels work like transition lens controlling the amount of light automatically—decreasing glare and increasing comfort and convenience
Redesigned chevron engine
nozzle (serrated edges) Reduction in community noise levels Reduction in interior cabin decibel level
Easy preventive maintenance Boeing provides service so planes are in operation for longer periods of time Fewer delays due to mechanical problems
The Aerospace industry is generating about half a trillion U.S. dollars back in 2015 and there are only two major players like Boeing and Airbus are in this business leading the competition. Two of the largest aerospace and defense manufacturers in the world are Boeing and Airbus with revenues of 93.4 billion U.S. dollars and 67 billion euros, respectively (The Statistics Portal, 2018).
According to the data from Google, the traceable stock share trade of the Boeing Company dates back as early as September 1, 1978. Back then the price pre-share is only 4.82 U.S. dallols. Now the price is around 340 U.S. dollars. There have been few major boosts in the period of 40 years, the latest on the in September 2016. It was the 100 years establishment celebration of the company. In the following 2 years, Boeing’s stock price went from 120 U.S. dollars to 340 U.S. dollars today.
Figure 6. History of the Share Price of Boeing on Stock Market (Boeing, 2018)On the first test flight and the actual commercial flight day, the share price gets a little boost. It is clear that back then the stock market was not quite optimistic as today, mostly because the financial performance of Boeing gets much better not just in commercial planes, but also in defense industries and the space industries. Especially the space industries, with the new companies like the SpaceX and Blue Origin, space is the new frontier for the competitions. Boeing has just secured a crewed flight for NASA together SpaceX. In the next decade, space will experience significant growth and Boeing will benefit from this new market.
With a total asset of $92.33 billion and total Net income of $8.197 billion in 2017, Boeing was doing a great job in the last year. According to the latest financial report released by Boeing on the performance in Q2, 2018, it has made a revenue of $ 24.3 billion by reflecting higher commercial delivery and mix, defense volume and service growth. These numbers reflecting a solid execution of the Boeing Company.
In a report made be Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, ‘In the quarter, we generated improved revenue and earnings, delivered strong cash and captured $27 billion in new orders.’ The data comparing to the last year the same time in the field of Commercial Airplanes Operation, in Q2, 2018, Boeing was able to make 194 commercial planes deliveries, 6% higher than the 183 deliveries in Q2, 2017
In the Factsheet published on the Boeing website, currently, the highest production rate is the 737 at 52 per month including the newest model of 737-MAX. Then followed by 787 at 12 per month which is the highest number among all of the wide-body planes Boeing is currently making.
When I’m writing this paper, Boeing just landed a contract from Pentagon to providing Navy with the carrier launched tanker drone, A big success over a key competitor of Lockheed Martin. So, Boeing is continuing with its success in the defense industries. Once the Starliner is launched sometime next year, it will secure an advantage over Boeing in the Space industry as well.
Overall, with all of the positive achievements, Boeing will keep performing great in the time to come.
There are many critics that describe the 787 Dreamliner is a failed project. There might be many different reasons makes people come to a conclusion like this. The most significant one is this came from the competitors. Another one would be they were only focused on one a few single items on this project instead of looking at the whole picture which Boeing is planning. In a much bigger plan may refer as the Yellowstone Project, 787 Dreamliner is only the starting point of it. Benefiting the new technologies applied to 787, the following project will have a higher technological advantage than its competitors even before they are started. This benefit alone will prove to be unmeasurably important to Boeing in the future competitions.
My understanding on the project management of 787 Dreamliner project management is that it successfully achieved the main objectives and laid a solid foundation for the next step for Boeing. In my opinion, if Airbus still cannot come up with the new technologies that can super pass or even reach the level of 787, in the future’s commercial airline competitions, Airbus will loss it’s market shares by a lot, because the customers are always looking for a safer and better overall solution to their requirements.
This winning did not come easily. Boeing trying to build a plane from scratch with brand new design, the challenge is enormous. Few points will be discussed on the project management difficulties Boeing are facing and how they work out the problems.
The Design Process
Start from the very beginning, Boeing is trying to build a plane with an entirely new design without using any legend technology, Boeing has embarked on an exciting new journey of civil aviation. From 2003, Boeing was trying to focus on how to create additional value for their airline customers and setting a new target of commercial airplanes by starting a new project. Although, the development of the first stage of 787 eventually cost Boeing about $32 billion (Dominic, 2011) and about 3 years delay (Michael, 2011), the first Dreamliner finally ready for delivery to its first client All Nippon Airway in Tokyo.
When the primary design has been finished, the parts for the first plane can be started eventually. It is quite clear for any project in this scale, the primary design gets approved for production will need to be constantly updated until a few years the plane is in service or maybe in the most of its lifecycle.
As mentioned many times, 787 is a project the fundamentally different from the other commercial planes today because it’s application with the composite material – carbon fiber. With more than 50% of carbon fiber has been applied in the final design of 787 Dreamliner. Due to the completely different and far more superior characteristics, carbon fiber has to compare to the traditional Aluminum, the structure of the plane can be redesigned by using a different concept.
Figure 7. 787 Building Materials (Composites Lab, 2016)
For most of the planes, says Airbus A380, they are still using Aluminum as the main material to construct the plane, so the plane is built piece by piece and wield together in the end, this is normally called Panelized Construction. For the case 787, instead of built panels, they are building barrels sections. So, the entire plane is being built section by sections around the world, and transport to Boeing facility for the final assembly. In the production process like this, most of the section of the plane is being built as one using carbon fiber and Boeing calls this process as One-Piece Barrel Sections. In the last assembling, Boeing only works with sections already build by standards and have them connected together.
Many revolutionary advancements have been made in the designing phase, such as the brand new smart Electric Systems. In the 787, they have eliminated the traditional pneumatic-bleed system for controls, and they also implemented more sensors around the plane to let the pilots can have a better feel for the plane. Other things like the new wing design and the largest window with Smart Dimmer, lower fuel consumption, etc. All of them together are the great product of that designing period. Given the fact that the potential value for the future 787 can achieve by providing a solid foundation for the Yellowstone Project, Boeing was doing the right thing by giving it enough time to let reach its full potential. And the fact is, great things take great time come to be, it will be all worth it in the end.
The Global Manufacturing – Multidisciplinary Team Management at a Global Scale
Instead of a traditional way of building planes by building everything in Boeing’s facility from the ground, this time the Boeing company acts more like project management company by assign the most of the manufacturing and assembling work to subcontractors spread out globally. This is a true and great example of Project Management in a Multidisciplinary Team. No matter in the term of the scale of the project or the Global Production, this is one of the kind. It really is difficult to find anything on the same scale at that time. At the Everett Factory, Boeing only keeps 800 to 1200 employees to do the final stage of assembling. The rest of the work is distributed around the world, and Boeing does the Project Management.
When the first 787 is rolling out from Everett Factory, it marks another milestone for Boeing. It’s a point where the manufacturing process is completely transformed in the background of globalization.
Figure 8. 787 Global Manufacturing by Countries (Boeing, 2018)
Trying to manage every subcontractor around the world is difficult enough, let alone Boeing trying to teach and keep monitoring the process to let them build something they are not normally done or even entirely new, and in the end to make sure everything is up to the quality standard. By the time the very first 787 flying commercially, Boeing has achieved something no other companies achieved before in terms of the scale and the complexity. Many companies have benefited the globalization by distributing their assembly line to other countries or buying parts from another part of the world, but there is nothing like this or in this scale.
Table 3. Boeing 787 Dreamliner Suppliers (Airframe, 2018)Suppliers (464 links)
Management Facilities Services (1) Professional Services (1)Design Design (2) Design Software (2)Materials Adhesives (2) Coatings (1) Composites (19) Lubricants (1) Metals (6) Non-metal Materials (8)Plastics (5)Components Active Electronic Components (2) Actuation (10) Bearings (1) Electrical Components (4)Electrical/Electronic Connectors (1) Fasteners (7) Lighting (5) Mechanical Components (20) Non-Mechanical Components (10) Passive Electronic Components (3) Sensors, Transducers ; Detectors (6) Structural Components (33) Switches (3) Valves (5) Windows ; Glass (4)Airframe Systems Airframe Assemblies (35) Cabin Interiors (20) Cargo Systems (1) Crew Seating (2)Environmental Systems (12) Fluid Power (7) Landing Assemblies (10) Oxygen Systems ; Equipment (2) Safety ; Security Systems (8)Avionics Avionic Components (3) Communications (Airborne) (6) Flight and Data Management (7)Indicators and Instruments (3) Navigation Aids (Airborne) (1) Warning Systems (1)Power Systems Auxiliary Power (7) Batteries ; Accessories (1) Electrical Power Systems (11) Engine Components (29) Engines (2) Fuel Systems (12) Power Transmission (5)Production Computer Integrated Manufacturing (5) Handling Equipment (4) Heat Treatment (2) Hot Forming (1) Inspection Equipment (4) Machining (9) Manufacturing Services (1)Measurement (1) Production Control (1) Production Equipment (7) Surface Treatment (1)Technical Consultants (1) Tooling (14) Tools (4)Testing Computer-Aided Testing (1) Test Equipment (14) Test Services (1)Table 3 is a more detailed list of how many suppliers involved in the production of the Dreamliner.
The DreamlifterWith the massive global production of the parts of the 787, each part has to be shipped as whole to the assembly facility based in the US. How to transport these parts in an efficient and safe manner become another challenge even for companies like Boeing. To solve this problem, Boeing and Evergreen Aviation Technology worked out a solution created or should be more accurately described as modified the famous 747-400 into a cargo plane.
This modification did not just simply removed seats inside and turn it into the cargo bay. They have converted 4 used 747-400 plane into a Large Cargo Freighter. Through this is not a new concept in the history, it still worth mention as there are only 4 of these planes in the world. And the sole purpose for these four planes is to transport 787 Dreamliner components from multiple suppliers around the world to the Boeing’s assembly facility in the US.
Since the purpose is exclusively to transport the parts of the Dreamliner, this cargo plane has a beautiful name of the Dreamlifter as well. Below is a photo of one of four Dreamlifter which are still in service – lifting the dreams.
Figure 9. The Dreamlifter (Business Journal, 2017)First public show in 2007, final delivery on September 2011. First commercial flight commenced on October 26, 2011, with All Nippon Airways.
First 787 experience for me is a flight from Beijing to Shanghai. Has been delayed about 2 hours, took off about 09:00 pm. Still, it doesn’t affect the great experience the plane can give to you.
747 DreamlifterProject Selection
When time dials back to 1990s, the Boeing company trying to boost their airplane sales by proposed two possible projects. One of them is called 747X which is an improved version of the 747-400 model. Although the famous double-decker design attracted loads of orders from many countries, the competition from the Airbus is also catching up really quickly. Even with a good fuel efficiency and high speed, the voices of the customer from most of the major airliners are different. The Jumbo jet like 747 has a major drawback as it size is too big to fully filled all the seats, so it lowered the profitability for each flight. What’s more, the global trend of keeping the rising price of the fuel makes the airliners are preferring efficiency over speed. If the next model can provide a better efficiency, then the operation cost of a typical airliner can drop significantly.
A few years later, with the catastrophic terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the oil price experienced another dramatic boost, which finally settled the preference for airliners, they have chosen the fuel efficiency over the improved speed. Under this background, Boeing officially canceled the original plan and came up with a new project on January 29, 2003, called 7E7 as a better replacement for earlier models. The basic concept is to this new model is instead of building the next Jumbo Jet, Boeing will build a midsized airplane with twinjets. With this new model, potentially, the airliners can open less popular the flight routes which can connect two locations directly. The flight routes can transport more passengers directly to their destination instead of transporting them to a hub and take a transfer flight which is called point-to-point theory (C, Roger, 2015). At that time, more terminals around the world start to build. This promotes the new business opportunities for airline companies want to open more regional flights. This approach will increase the sales of plane tickets, and with its medium size, it is much easier to fill up the seats on the plane, plus, if this aircraft can provide a better fuel efficiency, then this plane will be the most ideal choice for most of the major airliners. To satisfy this new preference, design a plane with a size smaller than the competitor’s Airbus A380 but also can load more people than traditional 737 is became a clear goal for the company.
So, based on all that, the plane Boeing should be building back then needs to have the following characteristics:
Lighter body weight
Can perform long-range flight
Smaller capacity than 747
Higher fuel efficiency
The technologies developed can be used for future projects of Boeing
Eventually, this is come to be the 787 we see today.
The Battery Issues
Since the Boeing 787 has replaced most of the power source to electric, this new energy source needs batteries to store it. The best commercially available battery is the lithium-ion battery, which naturally becomes to the choice for 787 by its light weight and high energy density.
In the first year, 787 start its commercial flights in 2013, at least 4 planes have suffered electrical systems stemming from its lithium-ion batteries (Wikipedia, 2018). Although it is normal for new planes to experience some issues, the battery pack caused a fire on a 787 belongs to All Nippon Airways. After another similar incident happened in Boston’s Logan International Airport, FAA issued a review for all of the 787 and grounded the Dreamliner until they have this issue fixed.
Figure 10. The heavily burned battery from JA829J (NTSB, 2013)
After a few more same issues caused by the battery and the Groundings by the FAA, 787 was suspended from services globally. Soon after, Boeing also announced that they will halt the deliveries of 787. This has generated so much pressure on Boeing and its battery suppliers in Japan. The original contract for 787 battery was signed in 2005, but the battery technologies have improved so much that most of the manufacturer is a start to using new materials and process to build Lithium-ion batteries.
Even with an approval from FAA allow the Dreamliner to retake the sky providing they can make changes on the battery so that can contain the battery fires, there was no official conclusion of why previous incidents have happened. Until in November 21, 2014, in a report published by National Transportation Safety Boarding (NTSB) made a conclusion as: “that the probable cause of this incident was an internal short circuit within a cell cell 5 or cell 6 of the auxiliary power unit (APU) lithium-ion battery, which led to thermal runaway that cascaded to adjacent cells, resulting in the release of smoke and fire. The incident resulted from Boeing’s failure to incorporate design requirements to mitigate the most severe effects of an internal short circuit within an APU battery cell and the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to identify this design deficiency during the type design certification process (NTSB, 2013).”
In closing this issue, Boeing has to add an 84kg heavier battery potential to prevent it from happening again.
Wing Bracket Replacement
Because of the main body parts of 787 is made of composite materials like carbon fiber, it cannot be welded together like metals. The designers have to come up with a new way to connect all sections of prebuild parts. The connections between the wing box and the wing have used components made of titanium called Bracket.
An issue has been identified in a stress test for the integrate of the wing. Boeing puts the structural parts into huge hydraulic machines that bend and twist them to mimic stresses that go far beyond worst-expected conditions in real flights. It was during such tests that problems emerged with structural spars in the wing box (D. Talbot, 2008).
Carbon Fiber is strong, but the connections for wings to the wing box give away at the test. The wing box begins in roughly the middle of the plane and extends about two-thirds of the wingspan. This key component–more than 15 meters long and 5 meters wide–was designed and built by Boeing together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries, then it’s also up to them to come up with design updates to fix this issue. Eventually, they have changed the designs and more bracket has been added to the planes even already built to ensure the safety of the flights.
Giving this issue alone, Boeing soon announced a month delay of delivery of the planes. To have this risk properly solved, Boeing reviewed their previous testing methods, which they believe can be benefiting the Internet technologies using massive simulations to shorten the time for the designing phase. But, the Carbon Fibers has a structure that is so complicated result them can only use a more simplified model for the testing, that why resulting them wasn’t able to identify this risk earlier.
Finances for Projects
Like most of the major projects around the world, both the budget and the schedule on developing the new 787 Dreamliner was also exceeded by a lot.
During the process of design and production of the first few prototypes, the project team has experienced the shortage of the financial support not only from the company, also need to manage the complaints from their suppliers. Due to many times delay, previously scheduled deliveries cannot be delivered on time, this results in less new orders and payment can be secured. A result of this is making Boeing has difficulties to pay its suppliers as well, which can only produce more delays that Boeing has to fix to ensure the 787 can be a success instead of a failure due to the common difficulties in cash flow.
While reading this report, you already know I’m a fan of Boeing and the 787 Dreamliner. In particular, I like the spirt the Dreamliner represents. From the entire development process, Boeing knows they are doing something that never existed before and they also know there will be countless difficulties they will need to conquer along the way to success. And yet, they proved the new ideas can be achieved by bravery and enormous effort, this set the difference between winners and ordinary people.
Some people may say it’s a broken dream. For me, this is just the rite of the passage. Great things take great effort and time to accomplish. Experiencing the difficulties along the way is bound to happen for a revolutionary project like 787. Comparing to the competitor’s A380, it doesn’t have too much of new concept or completely new technology, still, it has experienced a major delay.
In this project, Boeing has built and excised a better model of how to adapt their business to the global production age. The Project Management team has experienced some changes, the budget exceeded almost by 100%, years delay has been announced, but eventually, the performance of the 787 Dreamliner and the value to Boeing’s future project proves all they are worth it.
How well does the company manage the project?
Strengths and weakness in project management?
Examples of good and bad managers
Styles of leadership
Depth of research
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