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Supply Chain Issues Of Boeing 787 Dreamliner And 737 Max

Boeing is one of the most well-known aircraft manufacturers out there. Additionally, Boeing also designs and manufactures rotorcraft, satellites, and rockets. In 2003, Boeing started developing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a project that cost Boeing billions of dollars but continued to drag out for some years. Developing the aircraft was the main difficulty because it used composite materials 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 managing the supply chain process, which caused the majority of the problems. At the moment, Boeing 787 is doing significantly better than it was during its development and the earlier stages. All Nippon Airways was the first customer of the Boeing 787, and it was decided that the first 50 planes would be delivered in 2008. By the end of 2004, Boeing 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 the 10th of October 2007 after issues started happening with the local and overseas supply chain, ongoing fastener shortages, and 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 onboard crises, and the cause of both emergencies was the same: a faulty lithium-ion battery. The Boeing 787 project is the perfect example of a project that ran past its deadline and as a result, cost the company millions of dollars in damages. The main issue can be attributed to the supply chain process, because of its complexity of it. Someone in Boeing decided to outsource the design and manufacturing for most of the 787 parts. What is the reason? To decrease costs. Typically, this is all done in-house (O’Donnellan 2016).

Another airliner by Boeing that went through many 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 because, before the incident, Boeing had announced that they were ahead of schedule. There was no issue with 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 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.

Scott, Alwyn. 2017. Boeing suspends 737 MAX flights due to engine issue. May 10. Accessed February 6, 2018.

The Telegraph. 2013. Boeing 787 Dreamliner: a timeline of problems. July 28. Accessed February 6, 2018.



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