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Aerospace Supply Chains: The Good News-Bad News Reality Brings Investor Awareness

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If you have been a loyal follower of our Supply Chain Matters commentaries and predictions concerning Aerospace supply chains, you would be aware of the difficult position these value-chain ecosystems currently find themselves in. Once more, you would have had awareness to these challenges three year ago.

Thus we were somewhat amused to stumble upon this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek article, With Epic Backlogs at Boeing and Airbus, Can Business Be Too Good? 

The article poses a fundamental question. With over 10,600 of firm orders for new aircraft among both Airbus and Boeing- When is order backlog too big?

In a July 2011 commentary, Aerospace Supply Chain Are Now Stressed, we observed that the building multi-year backlog comes amid an industry track record of not so stellar performance in operational consistency, two-way communication and predictability.  Over two years later, although some progress has been made,  many of the same challenges remain.

The question posed by Bloomberg, and indeed the Wall Street investor community, is indeed the appropriate question. As the article points out, if a wait for a new airplane stretches out over too many years, it can fundamentally impact the business model strategies of airline customers.  Some of those dynamics are already occurring surrounding the continued undelivered backlog of Boeing’s new 787 aircraft. It further can motivate these same customers to consider alternative aircraft deployment or procurement strategies.

Another important consideration are the quickly changing economic environments that often drive demand for airline travel.  Airlines from emerging markets are estimated to make-up at least a third of the current order backlog. Current concerns surrounding former booming developing markets are becoming evident in global equity markets as foreign currency tensions, devaluation and and other local economic factors impact business growth within these markets. There will certainly be increased airline travel within emerging economies but this demand needs to be balanced with economic up and down cycles.

In a meeting with Wall Street analysts this week, the CEO of Boeing reported strong earnings for the recent fical quarter but raised some warning signs for 2014 regarding earnings growth. Investors responded by driving Boeing stock down by over 5 percent.

Boeing’s 2014 operational plans call for increasing aircraft deliveries by 10 percent, roughly 715-725 aircraft amid a backlog of 5100 aircraft orders. By the end of the year, Boeing expects to be delivering two new 737 aircraft every day, yet only 10 new 787 Dreamliners monthly. Airbus remains operationally upbeat, empowering localized operational decision-making, yet the realities of a near decade of backlog is hauting.

The new reality is that investors are now becoming aware of the flip side of euphoria- you have to deliver the goods according to customer desires and expectations, and you have to be able to assure required operational on-time performance at customer ship time.

In our most recent commentary regarding Aerospace supply chains, we opined that agility and responsiveness are indeed going to be very important industry differentiators along with on-time and consistent performance for new product development milestones.

An enviable industry position awash with order backlog does not condone business-as-usual. Rather dynamic and responsive capacity management, end-to-end value chain visibility, enhanced supplier collaboration and goal-sharing all come into play.

Each of the major aerospace OEM’s can certainly boast of record performance in 2013, but the real challenges remain as each supply chain ecosystem responds to unprecedented requirements for development and execution. They will each put to the test the real meaning for agile and resilient supply chains.

Bob Ferrari


PTC Acquires Internet of Things Platform Provider ThingWorx

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Prediction Nine of our Supply Chain Matters 2014 Predictions for Global Supply Chains declared that the Internet of Things would gain considerably more momentum in 2014 and beyond. We based that prediction on new investment initiatives from industrial giants such as General Electric to build-out the technology and service technologies to make more machines interact with one another.

Yet another reinforcement of this increased momentum was yesterday’s announcement from product and service lifecycle management software provider PTC indicating that it had acquired ThingWorx, a provider of platform that allows firms to build and run applications that leverage machine to machine information exchange.  The acquisition included a sum of $112 million in up-front cash along with a two year earnings agreement that could net ThingWorx an additional $18 million.  The transaction has already closed and PTC indicated in its briefing call with analysts that ThingWorx will continue to operate as a separately branded company with its existing senior management team providing both platform technology for customers while affording PTC the opportunity to leverage this technology within the provider’s existing PLM and SLM product suites. ThingWorx’s revenue model is subscription based predicated on the number of connected devices.

ThingWorx was founded in 2009 by three previous senior executives at manufacturing intelligence portal vendor Lighthammer, after that company was acquired by SAP AG. Their goal was build a manufacturing and services focused platform that would leverage concepts of connected intelligence to operational systems, involving people, systems and devices. While PTC executives admit that ThingWorx is not currently profitable, they were willing to pay a considerable premium by investing in a “momentum” company that could provide much broader internal and external opportunities. The company provides opportunities to leverage PTC’s current customer base of asset intensive design and manufacturing firms including its high profile within aerospace and defense focused firms.

PTC will begin selling ThingWorx this quarter and believes the company can add an additional $5m-$7m in incremental boost to PTC’s annual revenues. The company also outlined plans for internally leveraging the platform in development plans over the next three years.

Supply Chain Matters initial reaction is that PTC has made a bold move to lock-up a promising technology platform.  Of course, how PTC balances the needs to continue to fund ongoing development and selling efforts by ThingWorx and at the same time insure an open standards based development platform will be interesting to observe in the coming months. The move adds another arrow in PTC’s ongoing efforts to compete with far larger enterprise software vendors. In the longer-term horizon, successful internal integration efforts if timely, could present rather compelling service management options for asset-intensive or service intensive customers.

Bob Ferrari

 

 


Supply Chain Matters 2014 Predictions for Global Supply Chains- Part Seven

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Once a year, just before the start of the New Year, the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters Blog provide our series of predictions for the coming year.  These predictions are provided in the spirit of advising supply chain organizations in setting management agenda for the year ahead, as well as helping our readers and clients to prepare their supply chain management teams in establishing programs, initiatives and educational agendas for the upcoming New Year.

In Part One of this series, we unveiled the methodology and complete listing of our 2014 predictions.  Supply Chain Matters Blog

Part Two in this series summarized Prediction One related on what to expect in the global economy and Prediction Two, what to expect in procurement costs.

Part Three summarized Predictions Three, continued momentum associated with the resurgence in U.S. and North America production, and Prediction Four, talent recruitment and retention as a continued challenge.

Part Four addressed some unique industry specific supply chain challenges in 2014.

Part Five predicted increased implications regarding current supply chain social responsibility strategies and practices.

Part Six explored the implications of increased supply chain risk on global sourcing strategies in 2014.

In this posting, we dive into Prediction 8 related to expected global transportation developments and shifts, along with Prediction 9, increased momentum in the “Internet of Things”.

 

Prediction 8: Industry Re-structuring of Global Transportation Surface and Air Networks Increases Momentum in 2014 as Carriers Adjust to Realities

In 2013, global ocean container lines, air freight and surface transportation carriers experienced the presence of shippers that continue to elect, because of budget reasons, more economical and less priority prone transportation options. The reasons were obvious for shippers.  A continued uncertain global economy, along with the effects of severe recession in the Eurozone motivated shippers to rely on more economical and cost effective transportation modes. In surface transportation, a rather volatile environment of actual vs. stated tariff rates had some shippers opting for spot market tendering to take advantage of less costly rates than those contracted.  Improved planning of supply needs coupled with broader inventory visibility across the global supply chain provided more confidence among shippers to opt for regularly scheduled surface transportation.

Shifting patterns for product sourcing and increased momentum for near-shoring of production and distribution is further contributing to the trend. Supply Chain Matters featured a number of commentaries regarding global transportation industry structural shifts, rate trends, and what we viewed as a failure of the industry to deal with blatant realities of quickly changing global sourcing and trade patterns and too much capacity chasing lower transport volumes

Global transportation and logistics giants FedEx and UPS incurred a series of consecutive quarters where capacity allocated for priority air movement was significantly underutilized because of the shipping trends noted above.  Each of these carriers in turn, have taken proactive measures throughout 2013 to re-structure or re-align excess capacity dedicated to priority movements and at the same time, initiated efforts to compensate for lost revenues and potential profits with either rate increases or further expense reductions. Both carriers have announced rate increases ranging from 3.9 to 4.9 percent for ground and air shipments in 2014.

In ocean container segment, the picture is far more complex and troubling.  According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Review of Maritime Transportation 2013, growth in 20-foot equivalent units (TEU’s) slowed significantly in 2012 with a volume increase of 3.2 percent. This was down from 7.1 percent from 2011, and 13.1 percent in 2010. Final volume numbers for 2013 may slightly exceed 2012. Multiple years of excess shipping capacity is now exacerbated by the ongoing delivery of massive new mega-ships designed to carry far more containers at a lower overall cost.  As an example, over the next two and one-half years, industry lead Maersk alone has plans to introduce into global service 20 new mega-ships, capable of transporting up to 18,000 containers with up to 35 percent less consumption of fuel.

A troubling global economy and certain cutbacks in global trade have not help. The problem has been compounded by carrier optimism that global shipping movements would eventually return to growth. An overall reluctance to maintain excess capacity has led to hemorrhaging balance sheets for shipping lines with multiple unsuccessful and some successful attempts to increase shipping rates to compensate for lost revenues and excess fixed debt and operating costs. In the latter part of 2012, the industry anticipated 4 to 5 percent volume growth only to discover that demand turned a negative 2 percent.

In January of 2013, the CEO of industry leading Maersk revealed in an interview with the Financial Times that the carrier was losing $8m-$9m daily. By October of 2013, the CEO of Maersk indicated in an interview with business network CNBC that “the worst is over for the global shipping industry but so are the glory days.” That was clarified to a statement that most goods that can be shipped by ocean container are already being shipped with little silver bullets of shipping on the horizon. We viewed that declaration as an industry milestone.

As we pen this prediction, the top three ocean container lines have a proposal before multiple global regulators to pool capacity and global scheduling under the termed P3 Network.  Another industry consortium, the termed G6 Alliance announced plans to expand their cooperation in certain global routes.  Each of these initiatives require regulatory approval and there is lots of speculation as to whether governmental agencies will sign-off on such actions involving the management control of hundreds of vessels across key global trade routes.  On December 5th,news broke that sixth ranked carrier Hapag and 20th ranked CSAV were engaged in merger discussions, If both lines were to merge, the combined entity would rank fourth globally.  In would as well motivate other potential player moves.

For all of these reasons, industry supply chain should anticipate increased momentum in the re-structuring of global transportation capacity and networks.  What is unclear is the eventual impact on transportation rates or schedule performance, either from a positive or not so positive perspective.  An optimistic scenario is that container lines and air freight carriers are successful in re-structuring networks to maximize efficiency, service, newer fuel-efficient equipment and lower overall operating costs, to benefit of shipping rates. Another scenario, particularly for the ocean container segment is more accelerated consolidation and fallout of marginal carriers. Efforts to expand consortium influence on control and management of capacity and rates will not be well received by regulators and influential shippers.

The bottom line prediction is that procurement and shipping leaders should expect continued global transportation developments during 2014 and close relationships and contracting arrangements with trusted carriers will be important during this period. However, there may continue to be cost affordable transportation options by venturing into the spot market.

 

Prediction Nine: Internet of Things Picks-up Considerable Momentum

In April 2012, The Economist magazine declared the coming of what it termed as “The Third Industrial Revolution”, a new era from the second industrial revolution that began in the 20th Century with the advent of assembly line manufacturing in the United States. This new era is enabled by the increasing digitization or individualization of manufacturing processes.  Cited were continued breakthroughs in 3D printing, individualized or additive manufacturing techniques, faster and more sophisticated engineering and manufacturing simulation and the increased benefits derived from the “Internet of Things” or machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies. And, it is not just a revolution in manufacturing, but in how services related to manufactured products will be delivered.

The Internet of Things provides a new era of interconnected and intelligent physical devices and/or machines that will revolutionize supply chain processes related to production, transportation, logistics and service management.  IDC recently predicted 30 billion autonomously connected endpoints and $8.9 trillion in revenue by 2020. It will profoundly impact both product and service focused supply chains in months and years to come and we predict more increased momentum in 2014.

Automotive and truck OEM’s continue to design and deploy smarter on-board technologies affixed to Internet connectivity in motor and commercial transit vehicles facilitating far more responsive and efficient methods to track operational status, route vehicles, or revise routing on a real-time basis.

In 2013, General Electric made a major product design and deployment commitment to what it termed as the Industrial Internet. The conglomerate characterizes industrial internet as a combination of sensor, software, analytics, data visualization and other technology tools integrated into complex machines such as turbines, locomotives, aircraft engines and other equipment. Industrial Internet is further described as providing contextually relevant information in a near real-time basis that can monitor, control or modify actual conditions of industrial assets.  Readers might recall current GE television commercials that provide visuals of aircraft engines communicating to maintenance teams current operating performance parameters and alerting to when maintenance will be required to avoid downtime. In its initial announcement, GE announced partnerships with a variety of other information technology and services firms including Amazon Web Services, AT&T, Cisco, Intel, Pivotal, among others and reinforced the emergence of new and previous unheard of vendor ecosystems that bring together manufacturing OEM, technology and service firms collaborating on enablement and delivery of more innovative products and services enabled by Internet real-time connectivity and more powerful analytical tools.

M2M facilitates needs to synchronize manufacturing devices and/or networks to the pace of market demand and further enable mass customization of products. It further accelerates asset intensive manufacturer’s needs to enable broader product   platform-as-a-service services that help customers to avoid large up-front investments in capital equipment in favor of forms of “pay by the hour” leasing and service agreements over multiple time horizons. It helps manufacturers to build annuity type revenue and profitability opportunities.

We believe that M2M and smarter machine investment and development efforts will expand beyond just the United States but to other geographic regions and will feature more announcements from well noted global based players in both manufacturing, services and technology circles.  Following typical investment and development cycles, efforts will continue toward most promising business cases for M2M, and we believe that will center squarely on the capital equipment intensive services management segment.  We expect other developments to come in the logistics and transportation services segment.

Expect other announcements from global players such as Siemens which will lead to additional partnerships as influential industry players, both classic manufacturing and tech-focused, jump on to building market momentum.  We agree with current industry participants that security remains an important obstacle to broader deployment and it will be important for 2014 development efforts to focus on stronger network and data related security measures. A further open question is whether more organizations are ready to leverage M2M networks for product innovation, or have the resources and where-with-all to do so.  For the time being, GE has a huge leg-up in this area.

 

This concludes Part Seven of our Supply Chain Matters 2014 Predictions series.

Keep your browser focused on Supply Chain Matters as in an upcoming posting, we conclude this series with our final predictions related to information technology in 2014.

As always, readers are encouraged to add individual or their own organizational perspectives to these predictions in the Comments section associated to each of the postings in this series.

© 2013 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters Blog.  All rights reserved.


Supply Chain Matters 2014 Predictions for Global Supply Chains- Part Six

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Once a year, just before the start of the New Year, the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters Blog provide our series of predictions for the coming year.  These predictions are provided in the spirit of advising supply chain organizations in setting management agenda for the year ahead, as well as helping our readers and clients to prepare their supply chain management teams in establishing programs, initiatives and educational agendas for the upcoming New Year.

In Part One of this series, we unveiled the methodology and complete listing of our 2014 predictions.

Part Two of this series summarized Prediction One related on what to expect in the global economy and Prediction Two, what to expect in procurement costs.

Part Three of the series summarized Predictions Three, continued momentum associated with the resurgence in U.S. and North America production, and Prediction Four, talent recruitment and retention as a continued challenge.

Part Four addressed some unique industry specific supply chain challenges in 2014.

Part Five predicted increased implications regarding current supply chain social responsibility strategies and practices.

In this Part Six commentary, we move on to the implications of increased supply chain risk.

 

Prediction Seven: Increased Dimensions of Supply Chain Risk and Major Disruption will Further Impact Global Sourcing Strategies

Since our inception in 2008 as both a supply chain social media based educational forum and industry analyst anchored consulting firm, we have continually raised awareness to the increased occurrence of major supply chain disruption and risk. Industry supply chains encountered the brute reality of such risks in the year 2011, with the industry supply chain effects of both the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck areas of Northern Japan and the widespread floods in Thailand that impacted multiple production facilities.

Supply Chain Matters has moved to many other post 2011 commentaries addressing areas of increased risk and their potential implications to business performance. In the area of extraordinary climatic events, each passing year brings an unfortunate new meaning definition of historic magnitudes of storms. In 2013 alone, the world witnessed one of the largest and most destructive typhoons, which struck the Philippines. Across the U.S. Midwest, records were shattered in regards to the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded that brought associated destruction and loss of life.  Risk also escalated in the occurrence of natural disasters including more powerful and frequent earthquake events, some of which have occurred in key component supply regions such as Taiwan.

In our previous publishing of annual predictions, we raised awareness to increasing threats and exposures. In 2012, we modified our prediction in this area to include effects of liability insurance costs as a new consideration factor in major sourcing decisions.  Since that time, the voices echoing increased disruption risk across global supply chains has magnified with multiple consulting firms, insurance providers and corporate liability firms joining in the chorus of concern.  Yet, we live in a world of shortened sound bites and in the moment memories.  Recent surveys of supply chain executives indicate a lowered priority on risk management, probably because there are so many other challenges and priorities on the minds of industry supply chain executives.

Government and industry groups look to escalating climatic events as uncontrollable acts of nature which are the new normal. However, we have again added the challenge of major supply chain risk to our 2014 predictions primarily because of the implications of the various events that are occurring.

For a number of valid business reasons, major amounts of product design, test, and component and volume production are sourced across coastal regions of Asia.  We all know these areas well: China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines to name just a few. Major customer service and support operations also stem from areas of Asia and Oceania.  The countries that they are located within are today the most fragile in terms of extraordinary climatic events, natural disasters and flooding.  Insurance providers and the re-insurance brokers that finance global risk threats are well attuned to these trends, and price liability or business recovery insurance rates based on risk probability. If you need reinforcement, read their global risk summaries and reports.  A preliminary analysis of natural disasters in the first-half of 2013, performed by global re-insurance firm Swiss-Re, estimated $56 billion in economic losses from disasters. According to the Swiss Re analysis, flooding was a main-driver of natural catastrophe related losses accounting for nearly $8 billion in global insurance claims. Global insurance covered upwards of 35 percent of these losses, amounting to $20 billion.

Many corporations self-insure to some extent, under the guise of the probabilities of extraordinary events that would impact the business.  Recent history of events, their impacts on the supply chain, and consequent impacts on revenues and profits have additional new meaning for corporate finance executives.

We believe that in 2014, the ongoing cumulative effects of increased financial and business disruption liabilities will compel more manufacturers, retailers and service supply chains to once again revisit global sourcing strategies, especially in the light of risk among strategic suppliers, both in upper and lower tiers of the value-chain.  Dual or alternative sourcing strategies among strategic suppliers will become ever more important and will drive some new sourcing patterns that include different or diverse geographies to balance risk. Product development, sourcing and procurement teams must be proactive to implications of these developments and will need to depend on more sophisticated analysis tools to identify component risks in relation to overall revenue dependence and weighted risks for disruption in supply.

Suppliers that provide strategic components, products and/or services for key customers may well be fielding requests for considering the locating of facilities in different geographic areas that offset risk and provide contingency back-up to a major disruption.  We believe the days of sourcing based on one-dimensional cost and labor dimensions are over and 2014 will bring new dimensions of analytical analysis, advanced information technology and consequent sourcing actions that balance as much as possible, global risk. This will be a far different dimension of supply chain risk management and mitigation and firms had best be prepared for the new shift.

 

This concludes Part Six of our 2014 Predictions series.

Keep your browser focused on Supply Chain Matters as in an upcoming posting, we will move on to Prediction Eight, which predicts further turbulence in global transportation carrier networks.

As always, readers are encouraged to add individual or their own organizational perspectives to these predictions in the Comments section associated to each of the postings in this series.

 

© 2013 The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC,  and the Supply Chain Matters Blog.  All rights reserved

 


This Weekend Was a Huge Milestone for Aerospace Supply Chains

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Aerospace industry supply chains had a significant event this weekend, one that will resound for years to come. The event was the Dubai Airshow, and there were two significant industry statements that will have long-term industry implications.

The first was a significant statement from certain Middle East’s Gulf airline carriers that they intend to be a dominant force in international airline travel in the coming years. That statement involved the placing of in excess of $150 billion in aircraft purchasing power with aerospace manufacturers. That is indeed a considerable statement of both intent and global customer influence.

Boeing was a major recipient, receiving what is reported to be $100 billion in new aircraft orders from four Middle East Gulf carriers.  Boeing utilized the event to formally launch the development of the new 777X aircraft and by booking orders and commitments for 259 of this aircraft. Orders received involve two models of this new long-range aircraft capable of transporting approximately 350 to 400 passengers per plane. The 777x family includes two models: the 777-9X and the 777-8X. Each model of the 777x aircraft has a list price in the range of $350 million -$378 million. The orders came from three Gulf based carriers: Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways.  Dubai based Emirates which is already noted as the globe’s largest operator of 777 family aircraft, alone ordered 150 of the new 777x valued to be in the range of $76 billion. The orders were in addition to a previously announced deal for 34 777x planes from German based Lufthansa which was announced in September. In its reporting, the Wall Street Journal tagged the 777x announcement as “the largest product launch in commercial-jetliner history.”

Current plans call for deliveries of the new 777x to begin in seven years, around 2020, even all goes according to schedule.

Boeing further landed an order for 30 additional 787 Dreamliners from Etihad, which is reported to make this carrier the ultimate largest operator of the 787 when all are operational. Budget carrier Flydubai placed an order for 86 new 737 single aisle aircraft.

Airbus was also a recipient, landing orders for 50 of its new A350 aircraft while Emirates announced that it is buying an additional 50 of the gigantic A380 aircraft estimated to be in the range of $23 billion in order value.

Another major benefactor of this weekend’s orders was General Electric and CFM International.  The consortium landed commitments for aircraft engines and services value to be $40 billion at list pricing. Among the highlights was an Emirates commitment for 300 GE9X engines valued at approximately $11 billion to power the 777x which GE describes as “the largest ever commercial jet engine award from an airline.” CFM International, the joint venture of GE and France’s Snecma (Safran) was the recipient of orders for 450 of its LEAP engines. Both aircraft engine producers now have a record backlog of orders.

Over and above the flurry of announcements regarding new equipment orders are other important implications which will collectively make up the second significant implication from this year’s Dubai airshow. The Associated Press and Yahoo Finance reported that with almost $78 billion in purchasing commitments, Emirates has cemented itself as Boeing’s and Airbus largest and most influential airline customer for years to come, one that will be favored by each of these aerospace OEM’s.  Upon review of the order split among both OEM’s, Supply Chain Matters is of the believe that Emirates is also practicing proactive risk management by splitting its orders for replacing its existing fleet of intercontinental aircraft among both a yet to be designed and delivered 777x from Boeing, and more advanced staged A350 and A380 aircraft from Airbus.  The A380 is already a released and operational aircraft while the A350 completed its first maiden flight in June. The industry track record for development and producing an aircraft of the size and technological complexity of the new 777x is fraught with multi-year delays from both of these global OEM’s.

The other statement coming from this weekend is what the Wall Street Journal reported (paid subscription or free metered view) as a crucial part of both the Emirates and Etihad 777x deals with Boeing. A joint venture with Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi government-owned conglomerate calls for Boeing to add its technical expertise in making advanced composite materials for jets utilized in the UAE.  It is reportedly part of a broader effort to increase the presence of aerospace technology production in the region and add advanced technology manufacturing to existing economies of the region.   While specific details are lacking, the effort could lead to added local sourcing of suppliers in this region, the type of deal that Boeing made with crucial Japan based airlines for the 787 Dreamliner program, that led to significant sourcing in that region.

Boeing is already in the midst of a controversial negotiation with its Seattle based labor unions over ultimate engineering and production sourcing of the 777x.  The principle labor union in Seattle has already turned-down Boeing’s latest offer for a multiple-year labor agreement extension that could extend for as much as seven years. That leaves the ultimate decisions for engineering and supplier sourcing, along with final assembly up for grabs. As noted in our most recent Supply Chain Matters commentary related to the 777x, current public threats by Boeing to source major design engineering outside of Seattle along with major sourcing decisions related to the production sites provides shades of whether past supply chain related learning of multi-year program delays and snafus with the 787 program have been internalized.

November 2013 is a significant customer related milestone for certain aerospace supply chains. It represents the implications of the emerging prominence of the Middle East Gulf airlines and their growing influence on certain aerospace supply chains for many years to come.

Bob Ferrari


Another Reported Glitch in an Operational Boeing 787 Dreamliner

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The glitches surrounding operation Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft have once again landed in media. An underside body panel apparently fell off a 787 Dreamliner operated by Air India as it made a landing on Saturday, the latest glitch for the high-tech jetliner. According to officials, an eight foot by four foot (2.4 meters by 1.2 meters) section of fuselage fell from the underside of the jet as it landed landed within the perimeter at India’s Bangalore airport.

According to a posting from the Times of India, the aircraft was enroute from Delhi to Bangalore with 148 passengers on-board when this incident occurred.  The aircraft itself was the ninth delivered to Air India and according to the Times report, had just recently entered service. The article includes a picture of the gaping hole which is described as the AC bay.  However, by our view on just glancing at the picture, it would seem that a whole lot of fasteners would have let go. The Times article makes further mention that Air India had experienced problems with the interior electric ovens used for food preparation.

Both Boeing and Air India have indicated there was no safety risk for the passengers while Boeing continues to investigate this incident.   


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