Boeing's 787 — Supplier Snags Delay the Plane Again

Last week, Boeing announced a round of new delays for its 787 Dreamliner platform. According to The Wall Street Journal, the launch is being pushed back to the fourth quarter of this year (from the end of the second quarter). The above-linked article suggests that "the use of new technologies and reliance on partners have led to production delays." Another CNN article provides further color on the situation noting that "the first flight is being rescheduled due to slower than expected completion of work that traveled from supplier facilities into Boeing's final assembly line, unanticipated rework, and the addition of margin into the testing schedule. The new delivery schedule is based on a more conservative production plan developed with the 787 partner team. That schedule now targets approximately 25 deliveries in 2009."

As I've written about numerous times before, Boeing's 787 program represents a giant step forward for the A&D giant from a Spend Management perspective. By working closely with its tier one partners to not only source the platform's various components but also in the product design phase, Boeing has, in essence, launched a new solution entirely on the back of its supply chain. This "buy" approach has not only has saved the company what likely amounts to billions of dollars in facilities, resources, and talent over the "build" option, but has led to innovative breakthroughs in overall A&D design (e.g., fuel efficiency). While it's a shame Boeing is still working out kinks in the production schedule, I have no doubt this will be a bet that pays of handsomely in the long run as it showcases the power of a company's suppliers to transform its business.

- Jason Busch

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