35 thoughts on “The Sad State Of Boeing”

  1. Is HQ still in Chicago, while the manufacturing lines are still in Seattle/Everett, WA? Maybe start there….

    1. I am a physician (Emergency Medicine)…I was an astronautical engineer.

      I concur with your diagnosis.

  2. “I read they moved HQ to northern Virginia.
    The better to lobby Congress.”
    McGehee, that right there tells the whole sad story. IIRC there was something in Atlas Shrugged like this.

  3. It’s looking to me like Boeing’s fiasco with the CST-100 Starliner capsule isn’t unusual after all; it’s just par for the course at Boeing these days.

    1. Just from memory:
      787 development: years late and billions over budget

      747-8 development: late and over budget

      737 MAX: implemented a system that caused 2 crashes, grounded for well over a year

      SLS development: years late and billions over budget
      Starliner: years late and about a billion over budget, but fixed price contract

      Air Force One: years late and billions over budget, fixed price

      KC-46: years late, we’ll over budget but fixed price, won’t be fully fixed for 4+ more years

      1. Well, they do have the new F-15EX rolling out of the former McDonnell Douglas facilities… Ok, not exactly a new aircraft.

        There is the T-7A Red Hawk, but I guess Saab did build half of it. Also, Boeing took a $367 million loss on the program in 1Q2022.

      2. Yeah, that four more years for the KC-46 has been going on for what, 12 years now?

        And WRT the 737-Max, Boeing engineers are being charged with murder in federal court. Not the FAA, that approved the designs.

        Boeing went with Bezos for the BE4 engine, which 12 years later still has not flown. Good luck, Artemis!

        And Boeing can’t even build someone else’s (SAAB) design, consider the T-7

        Whatever mojo Boeing had, is long, long gone.

        1. I think you may be confusing the SLS with ULA’s Vulcan. Boeing built the SLS to comply with the Senate mandates to use Shuttle hardware to “save time and money.” The SLS uses 4 of the RS-25 SSMEs, which were designed for reuse but will be thrown away on each mission. SLS is part of Artemis.

          ULA, which is part Boeing and part Lockheed, choose Blue Origin’s BE-4 for their new Vulcan rocket to replace the Delta IV and Atlas V. The BE-4 was delivered years late. They finally received 2 flight certified BE-4s and the first Vulcan should be ready to fly early next year.

    2. Boeing hasn’t built anything new in the last decade that hasn’t been over budget and late on the schedule.

  4. Let’s face it, the only reason there still is a legacy aerospace at all is that Elon hasn’t decided to do either civil or military aircraft yet. If he ever does civil aircraft, Boeing and Airbus will be amputees. If he ever does military aircraft, LockMart, NorGrum, Boeing and Airbus will all be toast.

          1. Not sure what the max would be, obviously depends upon the reentry profile. I though I’d read somewhere the min would be around 2g?

          2. The rule of thumb for orbital entry is that peak gee is about the reciprocal of the L/D. For pretty much all the various capsules from Gemini to Dragon that means about 4g. Starship might be a bit less, Shuttle was the only vehicle ever to achieve less than 2g entry thanks to the redonkulously large wing. The (extremely sparse) SpaceX Starship user guide gives +/- 2g without any discussion of entry loads, and the chart may only apply to ascent.


          3. Nice chart. Figure 5 shows that lateral accelerations may range from +-2g but axial accelerations could range from -2 to +6g. Now I doubt a suborbital parabolic would generate that kind of axial load. In fact under powered flight it might be possible to stretch the parabola a bit to maintain a lower uniform g load. If SpaceX ever takes on P2P guess we’ll find out!

    1. He won’t, as it won’t help him get to Mars. Everything he does is either about Mars or else just for the fun of it.

      1. Or to make money to pay for Mars. Elon has already got a slice of the DoD budget with the Falcons. Starlink will add to that. Who’s to say Elon won’t choose to further up the ante?

    2. It had better be civilian aircraft. Military aircraft procurement depends on the revolving door between civil service (including armed forces) and private industry sinecures.
      Of course licensing new civilian aircraft models has its own problems and bureaucracy.

      1. Elon has never played those games. He relies, instead, on having goods sufficiently better and cheaper to eliminate the headspace for customary graft.

        Bezos has gone the OldSpace route. It doesn’t seem to paying off.

  5. Once Ukraine gets back on its feet, perhaps resurrecting Antonov would be a better bet. They’ll have battle-hardened employees who know how to think on their feet and make rapid decisions on incomplete information. Maybe they could partner with Lockheed or Northrup Grumman to put together a rival to Boeing and Airbus.

  6. Boeing has a few good things going for it but their failures are from their prestige lines of business. Their refueling drone is better business for them than Starliner but Starliner is a prestige product.

    1. They’ve lost nearly a billion dollars on MQ-25 over the last 2-3 years. They “bought” the program, after getting the Navy to rewrite and rewrite the requirements until they suited Boeing, which is what the Navy wanted too – especially after the ongoing F-35 program that the Navy was forced into, the Navy wasn’t going to go with anyone except their beloved McAir for MQ-25. And Boeing saw it as their last chance to play significantly in the UAV segment. Well, they got their wish, and it may be part of what breaks them.

  7. I hit the paywall in the article on Boeing, but the beginning had enough in it to make some basic observations about delaying the next new airplane program. They all follow from the CEO’s statement that Boeing won’t even put pencil to paper (I’m paraphrasing) on a new airplane until they know they are capable of developing one.

    Where to start? Well, first of all, the longer you wait to start the next airplane, the more absolutely certain it becomes that you aren’t capable of it. Aircraft development is like anything else: if you don’t do it, you lose the ability to do it, even if you once had it. The Boeing engineers who know how to develop an airplane will change careers if there’s nothing to do for another 10 years, and they won’t come back. I might add that even if they did, the relearning curve would be very steep.

    Also, what revelation is the CEO expecting that the company will have that would tell it that it does have the capability. Again, unless you are developing airplanes (successfully) you aren’t capable of developing airplanes. The only way to achieve that capability is to start doing it!

    My wife and I have each worked on at least a half-dozen flyback booster “programs” for NASA and the Air Force. Not one of them ever resulted in anything except a pile of briefing charts. Elon, on the other hand, just started developing, building, and test flying them. He is now the only person on Earth to have built and operated such a thing, which makes him the only one capable of making bigger and better ones. No one else is credible. (Bezos knee-capped himself by bringing lots of legacy aerospace executives into Blue Origin – why is anyone’s guess, but they’ve brought him to a halt.)

    With the track record Boeing is accumulating, I, for one, will not fly on the next airplane they develop – if I even live long enough to see it.

    1. Say what you will, Boeing may lose all of their tribal knowledge on how to design a new aircraft, but everybody is up to date on the proper use of pronouns and able to recite chapter and verse of the Company’s Diversity policies.

  8. Lets not forget that MACDAC had a pretty good SSTO program going, in the DC-X

    One landing gear collapse, and that’s all she wrote.

    1. Yes, … and Bill Gaubatz told us, after we found out that MacDac accountants had not paid the ground crew for 2 months before the crash, under a NASA payment freeze on the account… “McDonnel Douglas is a *very* big company, … with *lots* of different opinions about what is best for the company.”

      Note that it was MacDac *accountant* higher ups that transferred over to Boeing as higher ups, in the merger, and that one of them, Harry Stonecipher, was the Boeing President who in 2005 finally vowed to make Boeing a “normal company” (a firm run by its accountants).

      1. Okay that’s the triumph of fanaticism over common sense.

        Iron rule number one: get paid.

        If a company can’t meet payroll, it’s over. You’re looking for another job.

        1. I will modify that – if it’s a small startup and you’re a shareholder, that may be different.

          MacDac was completely not that.

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