Some good and not so good news on the Boeing front. First is the good news. Boeing and its engineers announced on Friday that they have reached a tentative agreement to a new four year labor contract, the final hurdle in resolving the ongoing labor stoppage at Boeing. Boeing can now move forward in resuming its production operations which have been idled since September. As noted in my last update on this topic, among typical wage and benefit issues, this labor stoppage had stumbling blocks related to supply chain outsourcing and work practice implications,.
In the not so good news category, an article by James Wallace featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer site on Friday now reveals that other supply chain problems have now compounded themselves over this strike period. This article points out that:
The first new 747-8 Intercontinental will be up to a year late in delivery. Boeing cited several factors including “supply chain delays driven primarily by design changes to the airplane, limited availability of engineering resources inside Boeing, and recent Machinists strike”. The S-PI article points out that since there is an industry-wide shortage of qualified aerospace engineers that Boeing had been attempting to utilize engineers from its design bureau in Russia for the 747-8 program, resulting in needs for design rework.
Boeing’s 737, the most popular aircraft for volume production is now experiencing an unrelated problem related to fasteners that secure the numerous nutplates on the fuselage and engines of that aircraft. Sub-contractor Spirit AeroSystems that was shipping assembled 737 fuselages discovered that one of its suppliers had for some time, not been applying a required cadmium coating on the nutplates in question.
On Boeing’s highly visible 787 Dreamliner aircraft, another potentially serious issue has been uncovered related to an estimated 3 percent of the fasteners being incorrectly installed by one of Boeing’s global partners.
We have previously noted in this blog column that many challenges remain for Boeing and its suppliers to be able to return to normal levels of output and delivery after this almost 10 week disruption. Boeing will have little choice but to practice higher levels of supplier, sub-contractor as well as union collaboration and innovation to overcome these continual supply chain hurdles.