Norwegian Air Shuttle Grounds / Returns 787 For Problems

Norwegian Air Shuttle has had a giant fit of impatience with Boeing over its inability to pound their 787 aircraft on a daily basis.  Accordingly, Norwegian has returned at least one 787 to Boeing claiming its unreliable.

Norwegian’s CEO is notoriously outspoken and the airline likes to drive its aircraft like any good LCC carrier would.  Hard.

Can the 787 be operated the same way a 737 is?  I actually think not.  And certainly it would be unwise for an airline to do it so early in its operation of the aircraft.  It takes time to learn a fleet and understand what needs to be done to keep the airplane flying.

What needs to be done to keep a 737 flying is well known.  What needs to be done to keep a 787 flying is still somewhat unknown.  The 787 will be able to keep a hard schedule in the future but today . . . not so much.

As much as I think Norwegian is being overly critical and dramatic over this aircraft, I also think that Boeing continues to have an engineering problem with the aircraft.  That is that they continue to fight fires and continue to miss quality control as a part of the process.  That was understandable at one time but it’s 2013.  This aircraft has been flying for some time and, more importantly, has already experienced several critical problems.

It’s time for Boeing to get a CEO in place who understands what it means to deliver a product to customers that customers both want and can use.  Right now, the 787 is what the customers want but they can’t use it yet.

2 Responses to “Norwegian Air Shuttle Grounds / Returns 787 For Problems”

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, and feel you have quite accurate and insightful perceptions of the industry.

    One consideration of the success/problems of the B787 program is that it is the first aircraft Boeing has designed and built under an outsourcing model that is completely foreign to their normal way of operating. The B787 is the only aircraft they have ever built that was not 100% under their control in that the wings, fuselage, empennage and other major components are all built by sub-contractors, across oceans, and the quality control suffers. It is said that the in house Boeing engineers are exasperated over how this program has been mismanaged because of the insistence of out sourcing by senior managers.

    Another thing that cannot be missed, is a shift to McDonnell style management that hurt Douglas in the way it is now hurting Boeing.

    It also cannot be overlooked that we are in an age of instant digital media, and CEOs like those at RyanAir, Norwegian, and Qatar are well aware of how these media stunts play on public opinion.

    Hopefully someone will do an evaluation of the failure and excess cost of this process compared to other aircraft models and Boeing will revert to its high standards and go back to delivering high quality aircraft like the B747 and B777 I have been privileged to fly for almost 15 years.

  2. Maybe so, but I think we all forget just how rocky an aircraft EIS can be. I’m not ready to call this aircraft an engineering failure. There are several new groundbreaking structures and systems that make the aircraft lightweight and more efficient. With new technology usually comes growing pains. I think Boeing will work it all out and this will be an outstanding airplane for many years to come.

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