Philip Condit and the Development of the 777
Daniel W. Sobel
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
This paper of Philip Condit and the Development of the 777; describes the management, and technological changes that Philip Condit made to the development style of the Boeing Company. Before Philip Condit took over the 777 program, Boeing had been making airplanes in the same fashion as it had been doing for 70 years prior. Mr. Condit saw the chance to bring Boeing into the 21st century not only with the new technology of computer aided drafting, but with modern management techniques as well. The 777 program proved to be the perfect testing ground for a companywide change in ...view middle of the document...
Having the Government subsidize Airbus’s development phase gave Airbus company a great advantage (Lawrence, 2008). Airbus at the time also had the advantage in terms of technology. The fly by wire technology had been in use for some time in the Airbus A320. The two new models; A330 and A340; also used this technology. Boeing had yet to produce a fly by wire system (Richards, 1990).
The industry environment was also in Boeings favor at the time. Boeing had a history of dedicated customers. The company had been making commercially successful jet aircraft since it first developed the “707”. Boeing was so successful at manufacturing the jet aircraft, that it was one of two companies left making them. This advantage gave them the ability to be a powerful supplier. The expense of the development process also made it extremely difficult for new companies to even enter the market. Boeing faced only one competitor at this point; Airbus (Pearce, Robinson, 2003).
This was where Philip Condit stepped in. He had been an engineer with Boeing since 1965; and assisted in the design of the 707, 727, 737, 747, and 757. He understood how the company operated. One of the first things he changed was how the aircraft was to be physically designed. Previously, the engineers would design a wing on paper, build it out of wood or foam, and then add it to a mockup of the aircraft. The people designing the fuel tanks would then add in their modifications; followed by the hydraulic engineers. Each time something was changed, the other people working in the general area would be affected and not even realize it. The company would wind up making many models just to get the pieces to fit together. The more complicated the aircraft, the more models it took. Philip Condit changed that process by automating the whole design program. He bought a computer aided drafting program called Cadiz from the Dassault aircraft manufacturer. Boeing then contracted IBM to modify the software, store the information on 8 mainframes, and provide 2200 terminals to the design and build teams (Pearce, Robinson, 2003). The software allowed the people working on a fuel system, for example, to see the structural parts of the wing that would be potentially in the way of what needed to be installed. Once a part was designed and entered into the system, it would be visible to everyone that needed to see it. This was a huge improvement over the old ways of finding conflicting issues after a mockup was made. Using this technology also allowed the engineers to design the parts; and the tools to work on the parts; almost at the same time. Although the cost of the software and hardware to run this automation was expensive, it allowed for a sustainable low cost advantage when compared to the old way of manufacturing the tools after the parts have been made.
Another managerial change that Philip Condit made was to tear down the communication barriers that existed between the different design teams....