Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Flopping Sound You Hear IS W. Edwards Deming Rolling Over In His Grave At 700 RPM

The Seattle Post Intelligencer is reprinting the text of Streiff's statement of policy and address on As The Airbus Turns.

It's about as bad as bad could be, unless, of course, things get worse. At this point the plan is to deliver one A380 to Singapore Airways in October 2007. That's right, 2007. Thereafter, 13 in 2008, 25 in 2009 and 45 in 2010.

Streiff identifies some of the root causes of the delays which were largely an inability to integrate the wiring bundles in the places where they were supposed to go in the real fuselage. However that softpedals the scope of the problem. It was not a 'lousy fit' problem but a 'never, no, not in a million years is that going where it's supposed to' problem, so far off the map that it couldn't be repaired shipside.

The worst thing, I suppose, is that this was all so predictable. It's vintage Murphy's Law.

I guess nobody really checked to see if the harnesses WOULD fit before the 'production' items were on the trucks to Toulouse for install.

What that says to this former worker bee is that there were far too many lard asses in the offices far from the assembly line thinking they could build stuff by looking at pictures on a tube instead of getting out shipside to see how this stuff worked in the real world of the factory. This is a problem that should have been identified and fixed two years ago and not when they're trying to put the finished product together.

I can say with a fair degree of assurance that this kind of a screwup would never have happened at Douglas. Whatever else I may say about their antiquated production methods and silly management, engineering was always right there, with the authority to do whatever it took to fix the problems that production identified. The top drawer engineering people were as close as the telephone. Nobody ever lost sight of the fact that we were building airplanes, and if we didn't build airplanes we were all going to be out on the street.

It is that lesson which is costing Airbus dear to learn and internalize. If they pull it off, they'll be a better and wiser company for it and will have learned a worthwhile lesson: you can't build airplanes sitting behind a desk hundreds of miles from where they're being built.


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