Boeing 777

Thieme Hennis 1052381 21-09-2006

The video about the Boeing 777 project showed the problems regarding the on-time delivery of the airplane’s IT system. The video initially is about the test phase focusing mainly on the physical airplane itself, about the problems that came up and the how the press (over)reacted on this. Then the video follows (and concludes) with the elaboration of one of the most important aspects of the new airplane: the electronics. With electronics is meant electronics, so the whole IT system, including fly-by-wire, but also the entertainment systems, including phones, TV-screens, game consoles etc. and other electronics like electrically adjustable chairs, lights… First of all, the fly-by-wire, although not an entirely new concept, had to be redesigned, because of other ways of data transfer and more computing power. Therefore a new laboratory was constructed to test and design this new system. Also 8 redundant computer systems were built in to ensure safety. So far nothing really problematic in the video, except for the enormous task the software engineers stood to make all this. Some short notes made by the project leader made clear the difficulties that would come into existence. One important one was: ‘… because it can be done’ This referred to the consumer and airliner demands that were rapidly changing due to all the new technologies and possibilities in the area of multimedia and computing. United Airlines demanded a state-of-the-art airplane that did not only transport people, but can serve as a marketing tool by itself, because of the services included in the plane. During the project, ideas, propelled by the booming IT, media, and communication industries, were sprawling into the project, changing the design, adding functionalities constantly. Because of this, the IT part of the project came under intense time pressure and fell back in schedule. Pressure of clients (airline companies) increased, because of possible late delivery of orders. In the table below an overview is given of the network of actors, including their (possible) influences within the project. Management/organizational Chief of project The chief manager has a great responsibility. A great achievement would be to effectively transfer this responsibility to lower levels of the organization, so that everyone feels connected to the project, sensing the ultimate or final goal, instead of pursuing short-term wins. Managers of parts of a big project sometimes tend to see their own project as the most important and challenging one, and usually are not focused on money savings. Broader awareness should be created amongst these managers to let barriers disappear and enhance cooperation (also to manage conflicting requirements between sub projects). Like managers, separate design teams can focus too much on their design, including all kinds of new technologies and capabilities without considering the whole design. This should be prevented at all costs, which can be done by setting general criteria and standards on compatibility and monitoring these. Like the designers of the aircraft body, the electronics designers have to be aware of the larger whole. Within this project a new fly-bywire concept was introduced, which had to be absolutely safe. More problematic were the ever changing demands on all kinds of entertainment systems. It had to be the edge of technology. This caused months delay. These people are normally not the designers, but hands-on people using tools to construct real airplanes. One of the most important aspects in managing these people is to make

Managers of sub-project IT Manager Entertainment Manager Etc…

Construction and design Designers of aircraft Wings Motor Etc…

Designers of electronics, fly-by-wire etc. Built in redundancy Software engineers Entertainment system companies

Builders of aircraft, engine etc…

Test centre, test pilots

them aware of safety, and the consequences of lack of it. In this case the test centre is an external company doing tests for Boeing. There should always be people of the project self involved, to ensure safety and compliance. One thing that became very clear from the video is the extensive influence that airliners have on the design. Not only do they come up with new ideas, but they can also be very demanding when it comes to on time delivery. Consumer demands change over time, that is very clear. These demands are translated by airliners in impeded criteria… because it can be done… New roles for pilots (more control) means other criteria set on the cockpits and the concurring design of it. When the press is not informed well, they can create stories (and sentiments) that are not only exaggerated, but sometimes even untrue. Therefore a close and comprehensive relation should be kept with the press. Regulation is extremely important, and can destroy a project in its final stages. Top management should be aware of changing rules and regulations.

Clients/users Airliners

Public/possible passengers

Pilots External actors Press

Governmental institutions/EU/IAAF