“Mack Daddy Planes” Grounded

FAA CITES FIRE RISK ASSOCIATED WITH PLANE’S BATTERIES For Boeing, the nightmare keeps getting worse … This week – in response to a rash of recent problems – the company’s troubled 787 Dreamliner passenger airplane has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While the Dreamliner has been plagued…


For Boeing, the nightmare keeps getting worse …

This week – in response to a rash of recent problems – the company’s troubled 787 Dreamliner passenger airplane has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

While the Dreamliner has been plagued by any number of issues, the FAA cited a fire risk associated with the plane’s batteries as the reason behind its decision to ground all U.S.-registered 787s.

Boeing – which lives and dies by the government’s hand – accepted the FAA ruling and vowed to fix the problems with its new fuel-efficient jets.

“We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787’s safety and to return the airplanes to service,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement.

Originally scheduled for delivery in May of 2008, numerous design, supply and delivery problems pushed that deadline back more than three years – causing numerous cancellations and ramping up pressure on the company to make the plane profitable.

South Carolina taxpayers shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to lure a Dreamliner manufacturing facility to North Charleston, S.C. three years ago. The Palmetto State later lost out on its bid to build Boeing 737 Max planes – part of a deal the company cut with its labor union.

In addition to its massive state incentives package, Boeing also receives subsidies from the federal government via the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which gives foreign airlines a taxpayer-funded competitive advantage over U.S. carriers. The company also makes billions of dollars a year on defense contracts.


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upstate January 16, 2013 at 11:52 pm

anybody know if the battery manufacturer got any subsidies, specifically for being “Green”?

Old Bike Dude January 17, 2013 at 8:05 am

Yaesu was the supplier.

hhuuhh?? January 17, 2013 at 9:46 am

In case that wasn’t clear, upstate, the battery manufacturer is Japanese.
Boeing farmed out much of the component production on this plane to various suppliers at a lot of their own expense.
Then, they slapped all the parts together in their meltable plastic plane.
That really is an ingenious way to sell planes…make a country amenable to buying the end product because some of their companies contributed the parts.

CNSYD January 17, 2013 at 9:57 am


This method is not new and did not originate with Boeing. The Navy has always made sure that its high dollar ships used parts from as many states as possible. Makes it tough for the Congress to say no when it affects their state and/or district.

Trey January 17, 2013 at 12:21 am

Is there a relationship between our public education system and this airplane?

CNSYD January 17, 2013 at 9:52 am

If not, Sic Willie and Howie will invent one.

BigT January 17, 2013 at 6:19 am

Anybody else suprised that FITS, Obama, and their idiots, are THRILLED in hopes they can destroy this Gigantic Job producer…

The Devil laughs when the Earners look to be struggling….while the media lets yall stoop lo low as to exploit murder and children for political advantage…

FITS, you and your Hateful minions, will lose in the end…Corruption rots itself from the inside…it just takes a little while sometimes…

You and Obama can ride high, and hope more American Families Starve…but you will not prevail, unless America really is dead…I don’t think it is…

dwb619 January 17, 2013 at 6:31 am

Don’t forget, the state of South Carolina has ponied up in excess of $900 million of OUR money to CREATE these jobs.

BigT January 17, 2013 at 8:05 am

If true: That’s a pittance on the Gigantic return we’ll see…

One ogf the Most IGNORANT tenets of Liberals is that they don’t understand investment…

Spending on ventures that return a million-fold is smart…

Handing out to beggers, Htaers and the lazy is how you destroy a society…

It’s why Obama has a job-losing economy and the future is bleak from a federal gov’t standpoint…

We must F%^* up idiots like you (Obama is proof) if we are to progress…you are a disease to a productive nation…

dwb619 January 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Geez, I thought a REPUBLICAN controlled state government gave the $900 million plus to Boeing.
But big idioT” says it was was “ignorant liberals”.
Alas, I consider myself a conservative Democrat.

Red Baron's Cockpit Blues January 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

Damn, we going back to The Hindenburg? Forget about investment, this motherfucker won’t be around ten years from now.

CUvinny January 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

The labor unions are sabotaging the plane to make SC look bad!

SCisajoke January 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

Slouth Carolina doesnt need any help from labor unions to look bad, or better yet pathetic.

CNSYD January 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

Since most 787s are built in union shops in Washington, how does one make sense from your comment?

SenseLikeChaps January 17, 2013 at 10:12 am

Honestly, I’ve been a bit surprised on this one. I expected lots of talk about red necks putting wings on backwards with duct tape or something, but most of the talk seem to be about Li-ions not being ready for certain applications. I take pleasant surprises where I can get them.

dwb619 January 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm

How are the labor unions sabotaging the planes built in South Carolina?

Smirks January 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

Not to be confused with “Long Legged Mack Daddy Planes”, a.k.a. Air Force One. (Not sure if anyone will get that one.)

Darth January 17, 2013 at 10:14 am

All these problems are with Union built planes coming from the Washington state misassembly plant, non?

norman January 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

We have a winner, the North Charleston aircraft were delivered to India.

norman January 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm

The Japanese battery manufacture is Yuasa who bought Exide decades ago. They have a plant near Sumter.

katrina January 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I’m an engineer who spent a career in military/aerospace/aviation/med equipment etc. complex, last stint in Fed gov. Spent several years at one giant company working with Boeing engineers at various times subcontractor, partner, competitor.

A core group of us from multiple companies – Boeing,ITT Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, blah blah – worked together in what was then a government technology association to develop technology management of short life cycle components, and their associated continual replacements and upgrades, within final long lifecycle and/or highly regulated, high cost of malfunction product (fighter planes, frequency hopping radio/ Boeing’s planes, tanks, FDA regulated blood analyzers for hospitals, etc.) We met a few times a year all over the country near our companies. Some of us would go to the factories of manufacturers that made components we had to use in our product – semiconductors/batteries/LED lighting, etc.) which aren’t built in this country because the infrastructure investment combined with environmental regulations precludes it. (I’m not judging or making any determination good or bad. I havent’ studied data on the issue so I don’t know)

The issues in developing/designing/producing/supporting this type of end product, with shorter life cycle components for which the commercial market drives infrastructure investment and the associated regulatory and other concerns of procuring components from other countries, are complex.

I have never ever seen programs for this type product get built on schedule and to budget, with exceptions in some areas when technical folks had more control. The people that do the bids are usually business managers who make commissions on winning the proposal. It’s a ridiculous farce. The military/government program managers who select the bids understand, the companies doing the bids understand, but it’s all to keep up appearances. When cost overruns inevitably happen, the contracts person on the customer side figures out a way to allow it as ‘unforeseable/supplier problem, blah so the contractor isn’t dinged, because then the customer selection process would be suspect. BTW, I’ve been on both sides. Certified in gov procurement (technical…NOT BEAN COUNTER!!!)

After the company wins the bid, the project gets turned over to the technical teams. Now we have to work to what our lovely business leadership set up. Even when we are part of the proposal process, and we tell them the cost/risk trade off analysis, they underbid it anyway knowing upper management will take it out of production/engineering later. At one giant company, we actually staged an engineering walk out. Everyone was on mandated 12 hour days, I kid you not, because the business folks won the proposal and commissions by underbidding how many techies were needed. We were driven, essentially, to work for their commissions. Yah, I’ll take care of that for you, dudes…

In all my years of handling/managing/developing these types of programs, the overwhelming source of fubar I’ve seen is not because of lack of dedication, capacity, or competency of line folks, the engineers, production team leads, etc. These folks care about their product, some, more than they care about their own vehicles and other personal equipment. Union or non-union, this state or that state. No matter. The only difference I have seen with Union is the pace of work. I have seen union shops take far longer to do the same task.

I have also seen occasional mishaps that must happen in the physical world – someone left a tool in the fuselage, someone forgot the cotter pin, the pick and place machine bent the legs of the chip, etc. I’ve never seen these mishaps cause final product malfunction.

The mishaps I have seen cause product malfunction were traceable, whether publicly admitted or not, to the business decisions leadership rightfully has authority to make. I have seen production mistakes when management plays with numbers by firing higher paid staff and QC to reduce costs and mandates production workers do 12 hour shifts. Of course they make mistakes. I have seen engineers agree to sign off on substitute parts when the original supplier can’t make schedule, because they were ordered by upper management to keep the line moving.

I personally had a manager early in my career who ordered me to sign off on production of a servo for commercial aircraft. Under FAA rules if a plane lost direction control because of this servo I could go to jail I refused and told him to sign it himself. He didn’t. He tried to crush me by demoting me. I won. He was directed to keep the ‘token woman’ engineer so when I was recruited by another company who knew my work from my industry presentations, got a hiring bonus and over a 10% raise from another large company, he got demoted from manager. HA HA HA peckerhead!!! (okay it was long ago but it is sentimental because it was first production battle)

I bear the scars of many battles with all levels of corporate command. Most of them I won because my external customers had to live with any decision for more profit over less product robustness or features. I employed their support successfully to support my technical objectives.

Not all technical folks resist being directed to sign their name to, let’s say, put Battery manufacuter1 on the parts list instead of manufacturer2, or, to eliminate the redundant safety circuit to reduce assembly cost.

Although I haven’t worked with Boeing for many years, I doubt things have changed much.

All this is to say a reasoned consideration of the issues can provide a more informed speculation on the root cause of Boeing’s battery issue. It is, however, still pure speculation.

tomstickler January 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm


Great post that is best appreciated by us other engineers. And, kudos for winning over your peckerhead supervisor.

shifty henry January 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Thanks! Lots of excellent info and insight, but some of it reads like you were getting paid by the word. But I can understand, and sympathize, with much of what you had to put up with. Good work!

katrina January 17, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Hey shifty, don’t i know it about the word count! I even annoy myself sometimes.. and who doesn’t like to hear themselves talk?..Hubbie says I have a million word a day quota…He is grateful to anywhere I can use it up!!!!

thanks for the input i’ll try to edit next time (suree…..)

shifty henry January 18, 2013 at 12:18 am

Welcome to the nut house! You can post anything you want to and as much as you want to. For me, personally, I periodically have a short attention span. Watch out for SubZeroIQ, though, because she currently holds the record for the longest individual posts.

,,,,, which reminds me—-

A husband answered the phone, “no, I’m afraid she’s not in at the moment. Who shall I say was going to listen?”

Some women are never too busy to talk about how busy they are.

Booyah January 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Meh. Complex systems have teething problems. Back in the Day, Lockheed Electras crashed due to structural problems. Those were sorted and Electra continued in service. MANY decades after those were fixed, the military version P-3 Orions still patrol the oceans.


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