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aviation

Jan 22, 2013

Dreamliners: Not just about Boeings, but banks, bridges and buildings

How much do the Dreamliner problems tell us about the alleged failures of 'looter-taker' managements in general, which can bring down banks, buildings and bridges, and not just Boeings, by exposing 'self regulation' as a defective sham.

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Media attention in global terms is dividing over the 787 Dreamliner issues into ‘narrow focus’ analysis of the fires that caused its grounding, and the big picture issues about ‘looter/taker’ management practices that have brought down banks, may have brought down bridges and buildings, and might have brought down Boeings had not Japan’s aviation authorities taken the lead over a reluctant US FAA.

The big picture issues are arguably far more important, because they go to the heart of the regulatory ‘reforms’ in finance as well as engineering, that gained momentum in the 90s under the manta of ‘self regulation’ or a transfer of responsibility from public authorities who were supposed to regulate to those those who were supposed to be being regulated.

The term ‘looter/taker’ first appeared before the current Dreamliner crisis in a Seattle Times article last September, in which it looked very frankly at what was amiss in Boeing.

After several revisitations of these issues in the Euro and American media in the past week, Forbes has come up with what may well be the most succinct and fair, but no doubt horribly unwelcome analysis of where Boeing went wrong , which on careful reading, brings as to a confrontation with management and public administration failures on as far broader scale in the present.

The Forbes article is very lay friendly and is strongly recommended.

The starting point in this situation remains of deep concern, which is that two Dreamliners experienced fires that Boeing has previously said were impossible for an airliner the FAA certified as safe based on data provided by Boeing, which no one is suggesting was false, but which was ultimately useless.

But Boeing, like Qantas, and many other airlines, had ideological problems with the importance of mere technically literate skilled engineers and designers, and reading through the volumes of lies and deceptions it published concerning the 787, was off in la-la land flogging semi fictional assertions about the project to carriers and media that were neither equipped nor disposed to questioning any of them.

Maybe, however, there is hope in all of this in that the FAA when it announced its review, made it a broad review, not just one about the batteries, which may be an issue that gets resolved in less than a year.

Those references to the broader 787 program cover the risk that what has gone wrong in the design, quality and handling of the Lithium ion batteries at the centre of the current crisis may also have affected other aspects of the Dreamliner in terms of composites, systems and overall structural integrity.

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