Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Time to Talk: The A380 and Weight Projections

I've been puzzling over the lack of hard information with respect to the weight of the Airbus A380, but I believe that there is some information to share, much of which presents some issues in the form of limitations to the operating envelope, even when you use Airbus' numbers.

From the Airbus airplane characteristics manual of Jan. 30, 2005 the following data is listed for the 555 passenger version.

Everything's in pounds by the way.

Basic operating weight 595,281
Zero fuel weight 795,869
Max fuel load 545,648
Max Takeoff weight 1,234,588

Now. From the latest F.A.A Advisory Circular for calculating weights we get 190 pounds for a male in the summer, which includes 16 pounds of carryons. Luggage at 30 pounds each gets checked.

So. The unfueled airplane has 200,588 pounds of disposable load not devoted to fuel. Dispose of it any way you want, whether it's passengers, cargo, or a mix.

At 220 pounds per passenger and baggage, if we fill all the seats, that reduces the disposable load to 78,488 pounds.

If we take the basic operating aircraft and fill the seats and hold as much as we're able, we are left with 438,719 pounds to devote to fuel-which means we can carry only 80 per cent of what it's designed for.

Looking at it from another direction, if we take the basic operating aircraft and add a full fuel load we come up with an airplane that figures out at 1,140,929 pounds, which leaves us 93,569 pounds of disposable load for passengers and cargo to divide any way we care to. If it's passengers and baggage, we come out with 426 passengers with their luggage, and no cargo. If it's bulk cargo, we can carry 93,569 pounds of cargo and fly with nobody in the seats.

Now. The word on the street is that the versions of the A380 that are delivered to the launch operator and first runner up (Singapore Airlines and Qantas) will be configured for about 500 passengers. Assuming the standard figures for passengers and baggage, we end up with another 12,100 pounds to play with.

In the first scenario (bottom up) our disposable load improves to 90,588 pounds. Not great but better and it still leaves us with a substantial fuel deficit.

In the second scenario (top down), we don't net any gains.

The Variables and How They Matter.

There are two critical figures germane to unscrambling this subject.

One is the weight of the green aircraft before the interior gets added, and this is not known to yr. obedient servant. The second critical figure is the weight of the interior installation which is also unknown to this writer. Clearly if we reduce the seating capacity from 555 to around 500 we may save something on the seating and interior fittings, but what that amounts to will be reduced because obviously a passenger on an airplane that now seats 500 instead of 555 will be paying more for the seat and will be demanding a higher level of comfort which can increase the weight of the individual seats.

If the basic empty weight figure (610,200 pounds) that is listed in the Wikipedia article is the more accurate number, the picture becomes bleaker. Information that is available at present suggests that a basic empty weight figure right around 610,000 pounds may be a real possibility.

In addition, I am informed by a generally reliable source that the new operators of the A380 generally plan for checked baggage in the neighborhood of 80 pounds per passenger, rather than the F.A.A.'s modest 30 pound planning allowance. If that is indeed the case, the picture becomes significantly more troublesome.

As in the case of the basic empty weight, the message is starting to emerge that there is very little room for growth here, and planning for more than around 500 passengers is not going to be any more than an exercise in wishful thinking. And 800 passengers? Forget it.

The only way to fly the airplane within the allowable weight limits will be to reduce the passenger load. And if the A380 can't meet its design objective as cattle hauler deluxe, one might ask how is that going to change the marketing that's already been done, and what does that say to all that's gone before?

Either way, it stacks up like this: the operators can operate for range and pay with empty seats, or they can fill up the seats and be limited in the fuel that can be carried.

The Takehome.

Well, you ask, "How does this matter? What's it to me? We never sell all the seats anyway."

Simply this. Unless you know exactly how many people are going to show up at the airport and how much cargo needs to be carried on any given day from one point to another, you might well run up against the operating limits of this aircraft, if the information available is at all accurate.

Profit margins are a funny thing. If you have capacity that cannot be utilized, for whatever reasons, it's going to torpedo your bottom line. The seats or holds you can't fill are money you won't make, and the paying passengers and cargo will have their burden correspondingly increased.

And one thing that airline operators hate more than anything else is to turn away passengers and packages when they have empty seats and space in the cargo hold they've been told they cannot use because of weight restrictions.

The Paranoia.

Airbus hasn't taken anything remotely resembling an order for the A380 since the middle of last year. While Airbus and Boeing were selling the heck out of the B737 and A320, Boeing was tearing up the order pads with the B787 and Airbus was making a respectable showing with the A350, nobody bought the A380. In short, people were buying vaporware, i.e., the 787 and A350, and nobody was buying something you could see, smell, and walk around inside. That's got to hurt, and if I was an Airbus A380 marketing guy I'd be worried.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Paging Jim Barnett

My Version of the Back of the Milk Carton

I am looking for this guy.

His name's James Dennis Barnett, and I lost touch with him a few years ago. He might be in Florida and was thinking of taking up veterinary medicine.

James was a mechanic who worked for Don Cleland's Bonanza shop in Long Beach, and he was originally from Washington State around Spokane way. later on, he worked in planning at Douglas.

Here's a story about Jim. One time, I think it was the same day I took this picture, he says "I have to take this airplane to Corona. Do you want to ride along?" So off we went. We taxied out and we were second in line to depart from Long Beach. So the tower says something along the lines of "Bonanza november 123xx, taxi on to the active, cleared for takeoff, good day." Then as we started moving, I heard the first pilot in line come on the radio "You idiot! That was my turn!" The next thing we heard was was the tower instructing the person who was third in line to taxi onto the active, with the instruction to our dissatisfied colleague to hold short. When we landed in Corona, that guy was STILL holding short.

So Jim, if you see this give me a call.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Memo to Boeing: Skip the Scabs

It is reported that Boeing has decided that parts delivery to the 787 assembly line will be handled by an independent, non union, low wage contractor and that the 100 or so Boeing expediters (that's what they're called in the trade) are more or less SOL. This was something of a surprise to the IAM local, and it came not too long after the machinists settled the last strike.

I mean, call me a hillbilly from Iowa, but I just don't see anything good coming out of it except a few bucks saved in the beginning. It would be one thing if they took work out of the plant somewhere but this is different. People will remember the expediters who had those jobs who are now gone, replaced by scabs from Walmart Nation.

Maybe Randy doesn't read this blog, but maybe it's time that he should. A Boeing mouthpiece (they seem to have an unending supply these days) said that contracting out parts delivery work is in accordance with Boeing's long term project of ditching low level parts work and getting to systems integration.

I'm sure that all of that will be a comfort to the expediters who are going to lose their jobs, when the last unemployment check runs out and they're stuck in Everett that they've become a noble sacrifice to the cause of systems integration. Yeah, right.

A little bad feeling can go a long way, and instead of looking at the numbers they've got on the proposal, maybe the brains who dream this stuff ought to start thinking what it could cost them down the road, because this won't be forgiven or forgotten. Maybe the shirts don't know it, but memories are long in the factory and insults once given have a habit of surfacing years later.

It told you about my friend Ron Williams, who was sort of a walking oral history project and research department at the Long Beach Douglas plant. He knew about you, even if you didn't know about him. Well, you could be strolling across the plant floor and he might point out someone and say "That fucker's a scab-don't talk to him." The guy's scab status had been earned fifteen years prior in a bitter strike that closed the plant for a while.

Randy, if you're watching, I can state with complete assurance that somewhere in the cavernous reaches of the Boeing plant, there is just such a man cut from the same cloth as Ron Williams, who always remembers, never forgets, never forgives, spreads the word, and is a terrible enemy to make, because he is Memory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Memo to Iraq's Sunnis: Have You Left Yet?

It is reported today that Iraq's Sunni community may have overreached themselves this day or for the foreseeable future.

In an outrage that will no doubt produce a wave of bloody reprisals, armed men overpowered the guards at one of the Shiite branch of Islam's holiest shrines, the tomb of two of the 12 Imams in Samarra, and detonated explosives that destroyed the dome of the famous mosque and site of many pilgrimages over the last millenium. What earthquake, fire, civil war, Sadaam and his minions, and foreign invasion couldn't put paid to, the Sunnis took care of with a few pounds of plastique.


Make no mistake. The asses will be kicked and the names will be taken.

There is only one variable in all this, and that is the actual dimensions of the extra large, super economy sized can of whoopass that has just been opened up.

One thing's for sure. When it comes turning out angry mobs for any conceivable purpose, Islam stands head and shoulders above any competition.

Crosstown Traffic: Michael Morales and the Death Penalty

Recently we've been treated to yet another chapter in the sorry spectacle of the death penalty in California. Of course I'm referring to the case of one Michael Morales a waste of oxygen if ever there was one.

According to a curious document available on www.deathpenalty.org from the anti death penalty folks, Morales is a 4th generation American (so am I) devoutly religious (I'm not) and the father of three adult children (I account for two).

The document goes on to admit, in effect, that Morales was guilty as hell but quibbles over the proofs. How else to explain the statement that "Michael has accepted responsibility for the fact that his actions led to Winchell's death" and then "Michael did not intend to kill Winchell" when the record's clear that the victim was lured to her death and that Morales personally beat her head in and raped her? If that's not felony murder and murder while lying in wait, I'm Wilson Pickett.

One learns from the press package provided by the California AG's office that Morales, at the tender age of 21, was a thug capable of using great violence without batting an eye, when he felt the need of a few beers or a pack of cigarettes. Here's enough of the link to Google it if it doesn't crash your computer.


So whether he fathered three children in the short time he had before being sent to death row matters not at all, and whether he's now devoutly religious is of little consequence. If I'd done what he did, I'd be worried as hell too mostly on the off chance that there's something on the other side.

I live in a state where we have not had the death penalty since 1964-although there is the small matter of the federal death penalty which two people were sentenced under here recently-they will be executed in Terre Haute, Indiana. I am against the death penalty as a matter of moral principle-it's far better to not have it and to make sure that people never get out of our fine state hotel at Fort Madison unless it's in a box.

But other states DO have the death penalty, and any criminal with an ounce of sense knows this.When I defend someone with multiple convictions the first question they always ask is "Does this mean that I get the 'bitch'?" That's the habitual offender enhancements. They're well aware of it, and I think that criminals in places like Texas and Virginia, where the death penalty is enforced, are aware of it as well and ought to govern their affairs accordingly.

If they choose to ignore it, whose problem is that? They do so at their own peril, and it's their problem, not ours.

The problem with this entire high minded calculus of moral values is the prisoners involved. The problem here is that MOST of the prisoners on death row richly deserve the fate that awaits them, no possible good is served by their continued existence, their guilt's been established beyond all possible doubt, they broke down the prison doors trying to get in, and had their trajectory not been intercepted by the law they would have continued on their murderous course.

It wouldn't bother me a bit if they were all executed tonight. These are not prisoners of conscience like Captain Dreyfus or Patrick Henry-they're brutes who now assert a claim on the public conscience and morality, and that is the most repulsive part of this sad tale.

Lest anyone doubt what I say about the problem with the death penalty being the prisoners, consider the case of Roger Bentley and the foul, unspeakable crimes against children which he was convicted of.


If the death penalty is ever revived in Iowa it will, without any doubt be because of the efforts of people like Roger Bentley.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Put the Lime in the Coconut Part II: Redefining Luggage

I'm indebted to Mike Boyd, the aviation iconoclast and guru extraordinaire for this one.

Here's a link to his website:


It seems that last week a woman was arrested in Fort Lauderdale because her baggage contained a human head complete with all the trimmings- teeth, hair, dirt and bits of skin. Myrlene Severe, the owner of the baggage and junior assistant voodoo priestess, was charged with transporting hazardous material in air commerce and failure to declare the-ahem-remains. She is being held on $100,000 bond pending federal arraignment.

When questioned why she was bringing the head in her luggage, Ms. Severe said that she hoped to use the head in accordance with her voodoo religious beliefs to "ward off evil spirits".

One can just imagine the clamor and discussion at the next meeting of the International Evil Spirits Union Local 148 in Fort Lauderdale. There's bound to be some signifying, and I'm ordering my seat in the bleachers even as we speak.

Advice to Tom Anders: Count the Chickens AFTER They Hatch.

Well, we're in the runup to the Asian Aerospace fandango and gran baile, and the first flakes of what promises to be a snowstorm of misinformation are in the offing.

It is reported today that Tom Enders, CEO of EADS has stated that his firm plans to topple Boeing from its domination of the military aircraft business in Asia. How are they likely to do this? Why, according to Enders, they've got the CASA 212 and the CN235, and the A400M is sure to be a big hit. He also says that sales of the Airbus A380 will jump once Singapore Airlines puts the aircraft into service, allegedly at the end of this year.

Well. The CASA 212 is a nice airplane-I've worked on a few of them-but they are not a C-130 and neither is the CN235. And anyway, the C130 is made by Lockheed. And the C17 by Boeing out of Douglas as the horsy types would say is slated for its doom here in two years, despite what you may have heard to the contrary among wishful thinkers and star struck dreamers.

So. What in the hell is Mr. Anders talking about?

The A400M is a long way from first flight let alone certification, and the A380 order book has been stalled at 159 since last year, if you believe the Airbus website. The A400M will be a new aircraft with a totally new engine design, and that spells teething problems and plenty of them.

You gotta wonder why the House of Airbus chose to go with an unproven turboprop instead of a nice off the shelf commercial turbofan, unless it was to get around ITAR regulations against transfer of American technology to thug nations. I mean, they coulda used the CFM56 if the airplane was aimed strictly at NATO countries, right?

The A380 that we're now talking about is likely to configure at right around 500 passengers instead of the 555 we talked about before, if what I'm hearing in the news from the Houses of Qantas and Singapore Airlines is correct. And why might that be? Could it be that no airline will be able to load up 555 seats with happy passengers and their baggage and meet the weight and range guarantees, because there's a weight problem that Airbus hasn't fixed? Or could it be that if you take the Airbus figures and calculate 555 passengers and baggage and throw in as much fuel as you can, you've got no cargo capacity to speak of?

And, there's the small matter of the wing failure at 3 per cent less than the ultimate load on the test fixture-a mere bagatelle?

Well.....should be an interesting season, for all of you with functioning B.S. detectors.

The article's from Deutsche Presse-Agentur by way of:


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Drama in the Midwest: Bipolar Weather Patterns.

On the 14th of this month the outside air temperature reached 63 degrees so I dragged the Cannondale out of the garage, aired up the tires and went out for a fast fifteen miles up the bike trail. Yesterday morning the 18th it was 4 below zero and not a chance that I was going to do anything besides sit on my butt and hope for more warm days.

This is the midwest, so we're all walking around saying to each other "How d'ya like the weather? Don't get too used to it." We ought to be good for one snowstorm-as it stands, the biggest activity with the snowblower was getting it ready for winter, which usually means gassing it up and cleaning the spark plug.

Did I ever tell you how I got a snowblower? Well. Sit right down over there.
One afternoon in June of 2002 I was on my way to pick up the wife at the academy and I was cruising down 41st street in the now deceased Plymouth Voyager, about which more some other time. It was, I believe, the hottest day so far in the year and it was pushing 90 degrees in the shade.

There it was, parked at the curb, a pretty good looking 5hp self propelled number. I couldn't believe my good fortune. I walked up to the door and knocked, and the homeowner said "You want that thing? I'll help you put it in your truck."

I got it home and found out it had electric starting-good thing, the compression's a little low. It had half a tank of gas and ran just fine. It's a no-name bargain basement rig with a 5hp Briggs, self propelled, hard chargin' snow smasher. All I've done is changed the oil a couple times, basic tuneup things, and studded the tires with a couple hundred sheet metal screws. I've been toying with the idea of making a megaphone exhaust for it, if I ever get a small welder at a price I want to pay-which ain't much.

At this rate, it'll out last me as well.

It's hard to believe that we're but a month from snowdrops and maybe a few daffodils. This year, I'm gonna do the century. Count on it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Don't Try This at Home: Tales from the XP Fringe.

There are some recurring themes in life that spell trouble, no matter what angle you come at it from. One of them is anything to do with America Online, a/k/a AOL. Another one is anything to do with Norton Antivirus. Although antivirus software is a necessary evil, Norton's clunky, memory munching, file hiding, always ready to intervene if you turn it off or install a competitive product software has become the bane of my computing existence.

I've got an old IBM PC that I use as a file cabinet and experimental platform. It's undergone a lot of surgery in the quest for low cost computing. It started out life as a bargain basement PC but it's had an 833 mhz Athlon in place of the 500 mhz original unit, it's been made wireless capable, a BIOS update (that was scary) a CD/RW drive installed, a new power supply, 384 mb of memory and a 120 gb hard drive salvaged from a deceased TiVO receiver. I've gotten pretty good at tinkering with it, and stripping out the operating system causes me no grief.

Enter Norton. I've been dissatisfied with their product (Antivirus 2002) for some time. It runs in the background and causes crashes when the IBM sits idle for any length of time. Hence the quest for something better and less expensive. I ran the Norton uninstaller. That part of it was fine, I got AV-G Free from the Grisoft people.

Then what I found was that the Norton product, like a compulsive packrat, archived files in the hard drive and in the computer's registry that would create error messages and otherwise make life difficult and boring.

I ran the Norton uninstall utility (Rnav) for persistent uninstall problems. It added files in out of the way places. Ultimately what was required was laborious searches for Symantec or Norton files and registry keys and manual elimination.

So I squandered 3 or 4 hours in this procedure. At my age, things that waste my time are a pain in the ass-I mean, how much time do I have left?

Well. So far, so good. A deletion of Antivirus 2004 on the Toshiba laptop went well, and the Grisoft product went in flawlessly.

Then it happened.

During a download of a freeware antivirus program someone sent me an instant message. Instant operating system crash, the worst I've ever seen. Then it seems that the program, Antivir, insisted on fighting with Norton. The result was at least 20 attempts to reboot without much success. I couldn't get to System Restore. Then, I figured, "OK-what the hell. I'll reinstall XP and lose 2 years worth of work." Even that didn't work-it couldn't boot from the CD. So down the stairs to the IBM to see if I could download floppies to do the same thing. I'm still a believer in floppy drives, by the way-particularly in the Windows environment.

Anyway, I rebooted the Dell one last time and left it for two hours while I got my floppies formatted and downloaded the XP stuff. When I returned, the desktop was there. Although it took several minutes to load, I found the path to System Restore and saved the day. Damn, did I ever dodge the bullet that time.

The moral of the story should be obvious for Windows users. If you don't need it, dump AOL instant messaging and Norton Antivirus. But be careful of your efforts in this regard because they will punish you if they catch you in the act of deletion or substitution or even A/B comparisons.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Put the Lime in the Coconut: On the Avian Influenza Battlefront

Yes, yes, I know this is an aviation blog, but I do have other interests....

I am a subscriber to an excellent listserv from the University of Guelph up there in Canada which is run by Dr. Doug Powell. It is called AnimalNet, and it collects and distributes news items of interest to those in the agricultural and animal health and welfare community. A great service and I shall post the signup information for you in just a second.

Dr. Powell has been talking about Avian Influenza and the threat it poses for the last two years or more. The work he is involved in is most commendable, timely and informative.

It seems that agricultural officials in the nation of Benin are worried that the local voodoo priests are going to be adversely impacted by avian influenza, as many of them rip the throats out of unsuspecting chickens with their teeth as part of their religious rituals. Government officials are busy drafting an action plan as we speak. The contents of the action plan are as yet undisclosed, but one might just think the chickens are hoping for some quick action here.


I'm trying to be sensitive here but it is hard to keep a straight face when stuff like this comes across my desk.

Here's the information to sign up for AnimalNet. It's highly recommended.

To subscribe to the html version of AnimalNet, send mail to:(subscription is free)listserv@listserv.uoguelph.caleave subject line blankin the body of the message type:subscribe animalnet-L firstname lastnamei.e. subscribe animalnet -L Doug Powell(replace animalnet-L with annettext to subscribe to the text version)

Money for Nothing II: Airbus Hands Out the Cash.

Money for Nothing II: Airbus Hands Out the Cash.

It is reported in the Russian wire services that Airbus is offering Aeroflot, the Russian state air carrier, a $100 million discount on a 22 plane order that has been up in the air as of late as between the B787 and its Johnny come lately, "almost as good as, we do composites right but only when we say so and nobody else knows bupkis about it, you won't get it for two years after the 787 but it'll be really good we promise" rival, the A350.

I wonder what Cayman Island bank accounts the "discount" will be deposited in. But nevermind. The Asian Aerospace Fandango is just around the corner.

Addenda: Son of Tiptoeing into Oblivion.

Addenda: Son of Tiptoeing into Oblivion.

The Marketwatch people have an article today which clarifies somewhat the future of the KC767 at least as far as the Dougloids are concerned.

Talk about explaining to the canary what its future in the coal mine is going to be.

Well, one thing's for sure-you can't accuse Boeing of being overly subtle. Their lexicon of business Newspeak is in dire need of retooling to contemporary standards. If they did that we could have a nice discussion about stuff like "renditioning the corporation" and "reengineering to zero" or maybe "rightsizing to the null point".

Here's what it says. "Defense executive James Albaugh said recently that the company will review all its options" (doesn't that phrase give you a sinking feeling?) "but expects to keep making 767 planes in its Seattle-area plant, even if commercial demand for the line dries up."

And furthermore.

"Our assumption has always been that we would build 767 tankers for the U.S. Air Force in Everett, Washington, where commercial 767s and 767 tankers for Italy and Japan are produced."

Looks like that's settled. If not, I'll pay off my bets in Confederate dollars.

Notoriety at Last: Listed on Blogshares

Notoriety at Last: Listed on Blogshares

Every now and again I do some googling of the term "Dougloid" to see what's going on in the world. For the most part, not much. And sometimes I look at the enigmatic Ruben Wong's http://www.dougloid.com for the pictures-as if I really needed anything to depress me. The Wilexa website has not been updated in a long time, and neither has Ruben's, so it looks like I am the official keeper of the flame.

I reviewed the photo suite of the demise of building 3, once the home of the largest horizontal milling machines west of the Mississippi River.

But enough of the doom and gloom. I recently discovered Blogshares, which is a quirky stock market game with monopoly money. If you're a player, you get to invest in blogs. And, you guessed it, The Dougloid Papers is listed. So-up and away!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tiptoeing Into Oblivion:The KC767 and the Death of Long Beach

You remember how the US Air Force KC767 project foundered over sweetheart deals and the jobs for contracts fiasco that ended with the deal falling apart and some prison time being served? Either the KC767 is dead or it's alive depending on who's doing the talking and where the open pie holes are making the noise.

According to a wire service article today, Boeing is on target to stop production of the 767 when the order book is exhausted and if there are no new orders from the Pentagon, said James Bell, CFO of Boeing.


But, according to the Seattle papers, Boeing said it may produce KC767 tankers in Long Beach if it wins the competition for the Air Force's next generation refueling tanker.


Boeing has already done the development work for the flying gas station and convinced the Italians and the Japanese to buy a few. The Italian buy is most interesting for a European country-one might suppose that the Italian military wanted their tankers now rather than waiting on more Airbus vaporware.

Make no mistake, though. The contract for the tankers will not go to Airbus.

And, you can bet your last Confederate dollar that no Boeing tankers are going to be built in Long Beach, as long as the production workers up north have anything to say about it. They've got a production line that's going to be shut down if they don't get some orders. They've got a facility in Wichita that does the outfitting with the refueling gear. There's past history with the ill fated and evanescent Long Beach built 737.

The announcement, distilled to its essentials, looks like a ploy to get California legislators and some citizens to make some calls and put some pressure on the Air Force to buy Boeing tankers.

Hell, they're going to buy Boeing anyway, people. That is, if they buy anything at all and don't refurbish the KC135s yet again.

Does anyone else think that this looks like Boeing treating southern California and the remaining Dougloids like a banana republic to Boeing's United Fruit?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Money For Nothing: Airbus and the Great Cash Giveaway.

Money For Nothing: Airbus and the Great Cash Giveaway.

First of all, a little concession. I found this via a link from Randy Baseler's blog. Thanks, dude, for pointing out the significance of this issue.

It is reported in a recent Flight International article that John Leahy, Airbus salesman deluxe, is offering cash back to operators of the A340 who are complaining about the fuel burn vis a vis competitive aircraft. Enplaned does a pretty good job of dissecting this and running the numbers.

Leahy poses this astounding question: "Is it a good investment to spend a couple of billion dollars to get a better aircraft when you can solve the fuel burn problem with money?"


When you spend money to improve your product or your service, that spending has the kind of synergy that brings dividends in all sorts of places that you'd never imagined. Even if ultimately unsuccessful, there are things for engineers and production folks to learn about in the field of product improvement that will pay you back big, somewhere, somehow. Money spent on research and learning is hardly ever wasted.

On the other hand, Leahy is suggesting it's better to pour money down a dry hole to make people go away, and that is the most incredible part of this whole affair.

Turn Out The Lights, the Party's Over Part III: Say Goodbye to Melbourne.

It is reported today that the party's over for the 103 surviving Dougloids who worked at Boeing's Melbourne, Arkansas facility repairing doors and flight controls. The facility was started back in 1966 by Douglas, and was yet another part of the Douglas legacy which will be wiped out, eradicated, torn to the ground, and have the dirt plowed with salt.

In an iscariotesque announcement, Boeing "deeply appreciates" the "professionalism and outstanding performance" of the workers but the decision to close the facility "reflects the unfortunate business realities facing the Melbourne operations."


Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: Randy Goes Globetrotting

Randy Baseler reports that he spent an enjoyable couple of weeks traveling throughout Europe, chatting with customers, investors, supply partners and the media. Do you suppose that he took home a doggy bag for the folks in Melbourne?


Thursday, February 09, 2006

This is the end. My only friend, the end.
Of our elaborate plans, the end.
Of everything that stands, the end.
No safety or surprise, the end.
I’ll never look into your eyes again.
- Jim Morrison

It is reported today that the very last MD95 a/k/a B717 is moving down the production line in Long Beach. When it's delivered, that will end commercial aircraft manufacturing in Southern California, most likely forever if the Northern Colossus has anything to say about it.

Once the epicenter of production knowhow in the field, this is the end of it all. All of it. Every last vestige will have been eradicated. The empty halls and cavernous buildings that housed an industry that was second to none in the entire world will soon echo to little more than the footfalls of the occasional gawker and the cooing of pigeons, many of whom lived in the rafters of the Douglas plant.

An entire industry has been wiped out. Gone. Finis. Terminated with extreme prejudice. Renditioned. Strangled and left to die.

It is reported by Boeing press release that "the 717 program helped shape Boeing business practices through its supplier partnerships and applying principles of lean manufacturing."

I guess that's so, if you rationalize your supplier partnerships by eliminating every one of them, and you believe that the leanest of lean manufacturing is no manufacturing at all. If you follow that line of reasoning, the best employee is no employee at all.

There are some lessons to be learned here. It's still too early to set them down in their definitive form, but the outlines are emerging from the happy haze of last year's order book. If I was a Boeing worker bee, I'd look to my finances, pay down my debts, and start thinking about what I'd do if I lost my job. If this can happen in Long Beach, nobody's safe.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

China and the Aircraft Industry II: Be Prepared to be Buried Sooner Than You Thought.

A while ago I mused that the question whether China would develop a commercial aircraft industry that could rival anything in the self absorbed west was strictly a matter of when and not if.

I based this analysis on the progress made on the Three Gorges Project and suggested that any country that could pull off a project on that scale could do damn near anything they set their minds to, and they'd already built airliners in collaboration with McDonnell Douglas. The Chinese I've met personally in the workplace are without exception a group of no nonsense, can-do people with a well developed habit of hard work and industry that should be the envy of the rest of the world. In fact, they remind me of nothing so much as Americans before they began to doubt themselves and their abilities.

Some of my colleagues said "Bollocks! China? A maker of plastic gewgaws and cheap hand tools? Get your head out of your hindparts, you pretentious yanqui! We here in Europe can handle the Chinese blindfolded. Why, if Airbus sets up an assembly line, the Chinese won't be able to figure out jack shit about it. The very thought! Hmmmmmmmph. Poseur."

Well. The future, as they say, is now. According to the People's Daily, China will complete the dam nine months ahead of schedule and the entire project will be complete in a couple more years. The biggest hydroelectric dam in the world and the single biggest power plant in the world will produce 85 gigawatts of electric power by 2009.

Three Gorges is the single largest civil engineering project the world has ever seen. Ever. And it was designed and built right there-in China. By Chinese engineers, workers, welders, truck drivers, gandy dancers, and high iron working stiffs. Nobody had to teach them how to do it either.

What's most remarkable is the technology transfer learning curve, particularly with the turbo generator units that were purchased from France. China now has the capacity to equip itself from domestic production with any number of 700,000 kw turbogenerators it cares to fabricate.


And as for those airplanes? All I've got to say to Airbus and Boeing is, watch your backs.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Douglas Corrigan: Famous Dougloid.

On July 17, 1938, Douglas Corrigan, an amiable airplane mechanic, flew a Curtiss Robin from Long Island to Ireland and walked from anonymity into immortality. On landing in Ireland he was alleged to have asked "Where am I?".

The story's a little more complex, of course. He had a penchant for doing the unexpected. Corrigan worked for Ryan Aircraft in San Diego and a lot of his handwork went into construction of the Spirit of St. Louis. Later in the thirties, he decided that he could do what Slim Lindbergh had done as well, but the government didn't agree with his plan and refused to grant permission for an Atlantic crossing. He gassed up the Curtiss (which he'd flown nonstop from Los Angeles) and departed, allegedly for Los Angeles, and turned up in Ireland a couple of days later. When asked about it, he alleged with a smile that there had been a compass error and figured he'd gone the wrong way. This earned him the nickname of "Wrong-way Corrigan". Later in life, he was a test pilot for Douglas Aircraft and retired to Orange County, California where he raised oranges.

Once, at an airshow, I saw him from afar. What I saw was an elderly Irishman who still had a touch of the blarney on him. This picture and another were found in a box of miscellaneous paper goods found at a yard sale a couple of years ago.

The point of Corrigan's life is very simple and it is often wasted on people. It is this: Pay careful attention to the experts when they tell you that you can't do something, and then go ahead and do what your heart told you anyway. It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Nobody does sensitivity like the Europeans Part III-at least I though so until I found this.

It seems that a woman in New Zealand who is the proprietor of a dog food factory has offered a large quantity of dog food to be used to assist the starving in Kenya. She says it's "yummy".


Nobody does sensitivity like the Europeans part II

Danish newspapers have created a furor in the Islamic world by depicting the Prophet-peace be upon him, because nobody else is going to get any-in an unflattering light, depicting his turban as a bomb.


Nobody does sensitivity like the Europeans, Part I.

Der Spiegel reports that right wing groups in France have set up a soup kitchen for the homeless-but they're making a point of dispensing pork soup, thus making sure that Jews and Muslims will have a problem lining up for their largesse.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over, Part II

I knew if I kept digging I'd find this. Here's what a DAC layoff notice looked like in 1992-not too different from the form that they used in 1946 which I posted below.

Update: February 4-This RIF's For You.

It is reported in the Daily Breeze that a Pentagon funding report made public Friday does not propose further funding for more C17s. For all the employees at the C17 plant, take a good look at the notice reproduced above. There's one for you, and they've got plenty more where that came from.