Boeing is one of the most well-known aircraft manufacturers out there. Apart from that Boeing also designs and manufactures rotorcrafts, satellites, and rockets. Back in 2003, Boeing started development on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a project that caused Boeing billions of dollars as it continued to drag out for some years. Developing the aircraft was the main difficulty because it made use of composite materials as compared to the traditional metals found on airplanes. Furthermore, Boeing decided to share the development of the aircraft with their suppliers and due to this Boeing was left with a complex project (O’Donnellan 2016).
The most significant difficulty, however, was most probably the difficulty of managing the supply chain process which caused the majority of the problems. At the moment, Boeing 787 is doing significantly well then it was doing during its development and the earlier stages. All Nippon Airways was the first customer for the Boeing 787 where it was decided that the first 50 planes will be delivered in 2008. By the end of 2004, Boeing already had 237 confirmed orders for their new airliner. It was further stated that the first flight would be scheduled for the autumn of 2007 (O’Donnellan 2016).
However, this was not the case. On 5th September 2007, Boeing faced its first delay due to a shortage of fasteners and incomplete computer software. The second delay occurred on 10th of October 2007 after issues started happening with the local and overseas supply chain, on-going fastener shortage as well as the software issues. On January 16th, 2008, a third delay was announced to the first flight. A fourth delay was then announced on 9th April 2008, the first flight was postponed for the fourth quarter of 2008, and the first delivery was pushed 15 months back to the third quarter of 2009. The first flight did not occur until October 26th, 2011 after the first plane was delivered to ANA on 25th September 2011, about three years behind schedule (The Telegraph 2013).
Boeing’s problems did not stop there as the 787 Dreamliner continued to experience problems even after launch. Just a week after delivery, two different 787 planes experienced on-board crises and the cause for both the emergencies was the same, a faulty lithium-iron battery. The Boeing 787 project is the perfect example of a project that ran past its deadline and as a result ended up costing the company millions of dollars in damages. The main issue can be attributed to the supply chain process, because of the complexity of it. Someone in Boeing decided to outsource the design and manufacturing for the majority of the 787’s part, the reason? To decrease costs. Typically, this is all done in-house (O’Donnellan 2016).
Another airliner by Boeing that went through a lot of issues and has been the highlight of public scrutiny is the 737 MAX. In 2017, Boeing issued an order to temporarily halt tested flights of its new 737 MAX because they had found an issue with the engine. The grounding of the 737 MAX was a big hit to Boeing because it occurred a few weeks before its delivery and also because before the incident, Boeing had announced that they were ahead of schedule. There was no issue to the safety of the passengers as no Boeing 737 MAX was flying around at that time, but it would cost Boeing a lot. Timely delivery is essential in the aircraft manufacturing industry because that is when aircraft suppliers are handed most of the payment from the buyer (Scott 2017).
O’Donnellan, Ruairi. 2016. Project Failures: Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. May 13. Accessed February 6, 2018. https://www.brightwork.com/blog/project-failures-boeings-787-dreamliner#.Wnk1p66WYdU.
Scott, Alwyn. 2017. Boeing suspends 737 MAX flights due to engine issue. May 10. Accessed February 6, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-737max-engine/boeing-suspends-737-max-flights-due-to-engine-issue-idUSKBN1862O9.
The Telegraph. 2013. Boeing 787 Dreamliner: a timeline of problems. July 28. Accessed February 6, 2018. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/Boeing-787-Dreamliner-a-timeline-of-problems/.