Boeing follows a rigorous and disciplined process from the earliest phases of a program through delivery and the life of an airplane.
This “gated” process for a change proposal begins when Boeing engineers outline a solution that includes the consideration of all safety requirements, weight, technical performance measures and configuration. The proposed solution is then subjected to more than a dozen separate gate reviews, which are detailed reviews conduct at scheduled intervals by program leaders working alongside technical, functional and subject matter experts.
Outside experts also provide input, with top leaders from other Boeing programs, retired Boeing leaders and executives, and suppliers sharing their expertise to ensure a safe and airworthy design. The reviews cover requirements, airplane configuration and performance, tests and certification, production plans, suppliers and partners, technology, and integrated program plans.
Once a proposal is approved, Engineering works with various organizations and supplier partners. An impact assessment review board is convened to ensure that all groups have been identified and provided input. Only at that point is a decision made on whether to proceed with a design change.
For a development program, the process begins during the product development stage when engineers are defining performance, systems, physical and structural requirements. When changes need to be made to an airplane in production, certification begins with the change request or change authorization.
The process continues once the airplane is in service. Program technical review boards with chief project engineers and fleet chiefs regularly monitor the in-service fleet to evaluate its performance and any operational issues. Detailed technical reviews to find solutions to emergent issues are coordinated with the customers, regulatory agencies and the industry – even competitors in the case of safety issues.
Boeing is subject to the regulatory authority and oversight of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) throughout the extensive process leading to the launch of a new program, or derivative. This disciplined interaction is crucial to the progression of any design changes.
Certification processes are spelled out in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 21. An airplane cannot enter service unless a manufacturer has demonstrated to the FAA that an airplane complies with all certification requirements.