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Don't Hate The Delays

Published by Mike Morgan on 12/07/2010

I've read a lot of tweets about how the Boeing 787 delays are the worst thing ever.  A three to four year delay of a product to customers who have put 1/3 of their money (48-66 million USD) down is outrageous. But people are not looking at this the right way.

You shouldn't hate on the delays.

If I put $100 down on a $300 lens and then had to wait three to four extra years to get my product, I would be mad.  And even having to wait three to four extra years for a car would horrible.  But one of these examples won't hurt me if it breaks, and the other one follows a fairly basic and unchanging concept (minus new iPod features, or maybe a new break pad). 

But, an airplane.  Okay, first argument against me: People have been making airplanes for a hundred years, we've got the idea down.  That's correct.  We know that we need wings for lift, ailerons and elevators for control, and a stabilizer for stability.  We know that the shape must be aerodynamic.  But Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, BAe, and all of the others don't put out 16 models per year (like a car manufacturer).  They develop new planes every 10 or so years (yes, I'm aware the frequency is growing).  So with those new developments come new technology, which means we need to learn new things.

Second argument: Airlines are planning their routes around this aircraft.  When the Qantas double decker death trap (A380) had an engine fire, and Qantas grounded their A380 fleet, they were able to use different aircraft to get people where they needed to be.  A photographer should be able to take an amazing picture with any camera using the knowledge of how to shoot, and not using his equipment as a crutch.

But here's the important fact: If a plane is going to break, as a frequent traveler, I'd rather it break during flight tests than while I'm flying on it.  Whether you blame Qantas, Airbus, or Rolls Royce for the A380 engine failure, the fact is that there wasn't enough testing.  Someone, somewhere, overlooked something that led to what could have been a huge disaster. 

I mentioned in a previous post that airline CEOs are near sighted, well, here's another great case.  ANA is freaking out because of delays, when they could be using it for their own good.  Why not create a marketing campaign where you support Boeing and say something like, "Because ANA cares about your safety, we're standing behind Boeing on the 787 delays.  We want this plane to be the best it can be before we put you in the seat."? 

The airlines are getting mad, where they could actually be making some money.  Safety is important to customers, take advantage of it.  And, hey, when this works for you, send me a check. 

But let's see, I'm just a guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?