Dreamliner was excellent idea-made of composite materials

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Reference no: EM131139563

As a flight of imagination, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was an excellent idea: made of composite materials, the plane would be lightweight enough to significantly reduce fuel costs while maintaining a passenger load up to 290 seats. Airline carriers chose options from a long list of unprecedented luxuries to entice the flying public and placed their orders well ahead of the expected completion dates. And then the problems started. An airplane like the 787 has a design about as complex as that of a nuclear reactor power plant, and Boeing’s equally complex offshore organizational structure didn’t help the execution. Boeing outsources 67 percent of its manufacturing and many of its engineering functions. While the official assembly site is in Everett, Washington, parts were manufactured at 100 supplier sites in countries across the globe, and some of those suppliers subcontracted piecework to other firms. Because the outsourcing plan allowed vendors to develop their own blueprints, language barriers became a problem back in Washington as workers struggled to understand multilingual assembly instructions. When components didn’t fit together properly, the fixes needed along the supply chain and with engineering were almost impossible to implement. The first aircraft left the runway on a test flight in 2009, but Boeing had to buy one of the suppliers a year later (cost: $1 billion) to help make the planes. The first customer delivery was still years away. If Boeing and industry watchers thought its troubles were over when the first order was delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA) in 2011, three years behind schedule and after at least seven manufacturing delays, they were wrong. Besides the continuing woes of remaining behind schedule (848 planes have been ordered but only 6 percent have been delivered), Boeing’s Dreamliner has suffered numerous mechanical problems. After the plane’s technologically advanced lithium-ion batteries started a fire on one aircraft and forced another into an emergency landing in January 2013, ANA and Japan Airlines grounded their fleets. The FAA followed suit, grounding all 787s in the United States. The remaining 50 flying Dreamliners worldwide were then confined to the tarmac until a solution could be found. This looked like an organizational structure problem, both at corporate headquarters and abroad. However, there have been so many management changes during the 787’s history that it would be difficult for anyone to identify responsibility for errors in order to make changes in the team or the organizational structure. For the work done abroad, restructuring reporting relationships in favor of smaller spans of control to heighten management accountability and tie suppliers to the organizational structure of corporate Boeing could be considered. Or “reshoring” to bring manufacturing physically close to the final assembly site and under Boeing’s control while centralizing the organization structure could be an option. What type of executive management structure do you think would be most conducive to getting the Dreamliner past a component failure and back in flight? Is this a different structure than you would suggest for fixing the ongoing manufacturing problems? Sketch out the potential design.

Reference no: EM131139563

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