弗吉尼亚大学达顿商学院（University of Virginia's Darden School of Business）教授劳尔•卡奥说：“这是一项庞大复杂的项目。就像我们重新装修厨房时一样，它们很可能超出原定的时间和预算。”
This ain't Kitty Hawk. Any aircraft creator on the cutting edge of technology needs much more than two brilliant men and a glider. Take Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner plane: Boeing had to work in concert with government regulators and more than 900 subcontractors to get this project off the ground. That is a ton of moving parts.
Not all of those parts were up to snuff, apparently. The Dreamliner made its commercial debut in 2011, nearly three years behind schedule. On January 16, the FAA grounded the line's six active planes operating in the U.S. until investigators say they're safe to fly. The planes were grounded following a series of issues most likely related to defects in the model's electrical wiring and battery packs, both of which are spanking new to commercial aviation.
The press has been rough, having fun with dream-to-nightmare headlines. But do the Dreamliner's problems reflect a management misstep at Boeing (BA), or are they simply the cost of building a modern plane?
Boeing and Airbus are the only companies with the capabilities to build large, high-tech commercial planes. Each company has new models in the works, and each focuses on a different feature. Boeing made a bet that the market would want quick, light planes like the Dreamliner. Airbus made a bet that buyers would want big planes – its new aircraft, the A350 XWB can be configured to have up to 440 seats. The A350 family is set to hit the market in 2014, although it has faced rollout delays.
"They're just massively complex projects," says Raul Chao, a professor at University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. "That means that, just like when you're remodeling your kitchen, they will go over budget and over time."
The Dreamliner is powered, in part, by a lithium-ion battery, and its electrical system is unlike any other commercial aircraft. It is also built with composite materials, which are lighter than those used in other planes on the market. All these features enable the Dreamliner to burn about 15-20% less fuel than a commercial craft of comparable size.
Those bells and whistles created a massive technical challenge beyond what even a company like Boeing, with a $57 billion market cap, can address on its own. Boeing, which builds more of its planes' own parts than other aerospace companies such as Lockheed Martin (LMT), outsourced 70% of the construction of the 787.