Is Boeing going to disappear as a brand – should the business be broken up?

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  • cwoodward
    Participant

    Unthinkable five years ago but now not perhaps such an unthinkable scenario.

    Clearly the aircraft manufacturer cannot continue to make these disastrous business decisions or continue producing sub-standard aircraft…… but is the business already mortally wounded?

    Todays bloomberg pieces makes interesting reading:
    https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/boeing-s-legacy-vanished-into-thin-air-saving-it-will-take-years-1.2021798

    Arguably it is currently being saved by its sheer size and its strategic position as the USA’s only major aircraft manufacturer however one more major error and the brand risks becoming toxic to a degree that the travelling public will not want to fly in Boeing branded aircraft.

    Breaking the giant corporation up and rebranding its commercial aircraft arm has I believe some considerable merit. McDonnell Douglas is largely unblemished as a brand still has a decent ring and recall and now may be the time to bring it back?

    China is pushing to have its C919 certified in both the USA and Europe and this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg for Chinese makers to push hard into the international large aircraft market with stand alone manufacturer(s).

    How do others see ‘brand Boeing’ going forward?

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    esselle
    Participant

    Interesting thoughts, and possibly with merit, but for me the change that is needed is not simply the brand name on the tin, but the corporate culture that allows mistakes/shortcuts/compliance etc to be compromised.

    Changing that, in my view, is a lot harder than changing the name.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    Inquisitive
    Participant

    Large airplane design from ground up requires so much research and initial investments, that it is not easy for a new entity to break ground.
    Small Canadian company tried but did not make much progress. Brazil tried and gave up. China may succeed to some extent.

    Boeing is a classic business case where profit by any means created some issue and most business leaders understand that is not applicable in some industries where safety matters. But sometimes, both board and top management do not see the reality.

    Wholesale change of top management and board and bringing total safety culture could revive Boeing. They have technology and good engineers, no reason why they have to go downhill.

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    AndrewinHK
    Participant

    Any inference that Boeing is going to be damaged long-term by these issues I think is foolish. Boeing and Airbus are effectively a duopoly, and rivals from nations like Russia and China are in my view very unlikely to ever gain traction in the major global markets. No US or EU airline is ever going to buy a Russian or Chinese aircraft. India will never buy a Chinese-built aircraft, so the major global aviation markets are effectively blocked. COMAC is in its infancy, the aircraft being flown, all domestically are under-utilized, operating for a few hours a day and reliant on state-owned carriers for orders. Boeing of course is ultimately responsible for the build quality of its products, but it seems that self-certification, lack of regulation from the FAA, and chinks in the supply chain with Spirit Aero are the overriding problems, all of which are surmountable. Interesting that the latest executive’s compensation had Safety and DEI ranked the same in priorities for the first time, that’s something that needs to be changed, employ the best, and safety first.


    stevescoots
    Participant

    As inquisitive said “Wholesale change of top management and board and bringing total safety culture could revive Boeing” As someone who is in manufacturing these problems should never happen if quality at the very least takes equal position with profits. All to often i see short term shareholder “value” put above quality

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    Boeing is too big to fail, that became clear through the original B737MAX disasters and the overlapping arrive of Covid, flights cancellations, order cancellations etc etc. The US Government simply won’t allow it to fail.

    Our marina neighbours in Gibraltar (also aviation geeks although with better credentials as they are both corporate jet pilots) lent me the book “Flying Blind” by Peter Robison (“The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing”) to read on my holiday. I read the entire book yesterday. Utterly fascinating and demonstrates just how comprehensively, in the wake of the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger, Boeing stopped being an engineering-led company and became instead a vehicle for the pursuit of profits and share prices at any cost (much influenced by General Electric under Jack Welch), with safety becoming a much lower priority; as well as the interactions between the FAA inspectors (who effectively became subordinate to Boeing personnel) and the company and were mandated to make the company succeed (one inspector’s performance bonus was dependent on certifying the GE90 engine by a specific date – isn’t that extraordinary?). It’s a fascinating read and I commend it to anyone.

    One of the interesting things that came out of it is that although Boeing notionally bought McDonnell Douglas, it ended up largely being run by McDonnell Douglas executives who changed the engineering culture to a finance-driven culture. So I don’t think a rebrand to McDonnell Douglas would really help much.

    5 users thanked author for this post.

    FDOS
    Participant

    It’s worth noting, when considering Airbus and Boeing, that they are crucial defence sector suppliers, as well as providers of airliners.

    This aspect is an environmental factor in their business and has a profound impact.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    cwoodward
    Participant

    The below further outlines how close is Boeing to the brink – the staggering numbers quoted appear to be correct as far as I am able to check and the conclusions drawn here by an American industry insider are close to my own.

    ” Boeing spent 40 BILLION (US)DOLLARS on stock buy backs since 2010. If that money that had been spent on production QA and new product R & D we would not be having this discussion, however that money was spent solely to juice the stock price and resulted in outside bonuses to the C suite executives. It is almost unbelievable the damage Jack Welch did to American business.

    I don’t see any way ever Boeing comes back. Even if all the bean counter short term thinkers are purged it is probably too late.

    Boeing does not have the financial resources to invest in future airframes. The 737 is a dead end, selling only because the Airbus booked up to 2027. The 21 Billion dollar fall out of the MAX debacle means the even if they build 5000 of them they still won’t be profitable.
    (This)especially because they can only be moved at a substantial discount. The disastrous and continuing production problems with the 787 also ensure it will never be profitable and the 777X is floundering with so many own goals on certification issues the FAA is at the stage that they won’t take Boeings word on the design of the cockpit pen holders, let alone the major aircraft systems.

    Sooner rather than later you will see Boeing split into Boeing Commercial and Boeing Military and Space. Boeing Commercial will immediately go into Chapter 11 and be restructured into much smaller company with probably only the 737 and KC 46 production lines remaining with in service support to existing airframes.

    In any case If there is another crash that can be directly attributable to a Boeing design or manufacturing flaw then I think the company is immediately done.”

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    Very grateful to the posters on this thread for their insights.

    My question is that, if Boeing Commercial does fail, what happens next in terms of global airline production? Who, apart from Airbus, can step in and fill the void in terms of both production and future R&D? Particularly thnking of larger, long-haul aircraft.


    TonyR
    Participant

    Not sure you can say they have good engineers anymore. It’s not only in the civil sector they are having problems. Look at all the problems and delays with the Starliner space station shuttle. The first crewed flight was abandoned at a few weeks notice after they belatedly discovered the parachute links were not strong enough and the wiring had all been wrapped in flammable protective tape! Still waiting for its first crewed flight after the disaster of the first uncrewed flight.

    McDonnell Douglas is not a good brand either although most people are too young to remember the DC10 disasters. Another door problem, that time the cargo doors, that also opened outwards and blew off. A strange feeling of deja-vu.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    cwoodward
    Participant

    It was a huge and very possibly an irredeemable error (made only for shareholder greed }to continue to flog two last century dyeing horses in the 737 and 777 while the rest of the industry players large and small was breaking new ground “clean sheet” aircraft development.
    At present the air framer has no disenable new aircraft development outside of continued rework of these already unwanted dead horses and has lost close to 10 years on it competitors.

    My view is that if Boeing does no start immediately to develop soon a ground up clean sheet single aisle carbon plane with modern cockpit which encompasses modern high bypass engines it prospects of surviving in its present form are not high though this approach is possibly already too late without a radical restructuring of the group.

    The latest casualty it seems is Southwest, by far the largest MAX 7 customer with 302 orders who said yesterday it has taken the MAX 7 out of its plans for at least 2024.


    cwoodward
    Participant

    It is increasingly obvious that the major US airlines are very serious in their intentions to minimise business with Boeings and its tarnished offerings.

    Reuters report that United Airlines (UA, Chicago O’Hare) is in early negotiations with Airbus about a new A321-200neo order to replace some of its existing B737 MAX backlog. The carrier’s chief executive officer, Scott Kirby visited Airbus Toulouse last week for urgent talks which focused on replacing United’s outstanding B737-10 fleet given the uncertainty about its delivery timeline and quality issues affecting Boeing aircraft.

    In turn, Bloomberg cited sources saying the European manufacturer has approached numerous lessors and other airlines, offering to buy back their highly-coveted A321neo delivery slots which, once acquired, would then be offered to United.

    There is of course a valid argument to be had that Boeing is just ‘too big to fail’…. but is it ?


    CathayLoyalist2
    Participant

    More problems for Boeing. Recent inspections have revealed improperly drilled holes in the fuselage of some 737-max aircraft will mean delays in delivering 50 new aircraft. Sir Tim Clark of Emirates described Boeing “as being in the last chance saloon”


    TonyR
    Participant

    Both Emirates and Ryanair are sending engineers to quality check their aircraft on the production line. Clearly are not trusting Boeing to do it.


    Johnnyg
    Participant

    Just announced that a door that blew away from a Boeing 737 Max shortly after take-off may not have been properly secured, a new report says.

    The US National Transportation Safety Board has released initial findings from its probe into the incident on an Alaska Airlines plane in January.

    It says four key bolts that were meant to lock the unused door to the fuselage appeared to be missing.

    The incident happened minutes after Alaska Airlines Flight 2182 took off.

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