Front Page
Boeing Frontiers
April 2004
Volume 02, Issue 11
Boeing Frontiers
Letters to the Editor

Employee Involvement still work in progress

March Frontiers cover
Congratulations on the great article "Shared Destiny" in the February 2004 issue of Boeing Frontiers. I have long supported the benefits of Employee Involvement, for as the article says, the workers are the best source of improvement ideas. Many times all they need is a forum where they can raise issues and then act on them. Communication and speed is a key issue here. If an employee raises an improvement idea and they do not hear that anything is being done, they can become disheartened by the entire process. So even if nothing is being done, [a manager should] contact them and explain why.

The next issue I wish to raise involves [writer Peter Grazier's] comment on Page 21: "Even 1,000 employees contributing a 1 percent gain in performance is the same as one improvement contributing a 1,000 percent gain." My point is that 1,000 local improvements may not result in a global improvement. While it is important that all employee improvement ideas should be examined on their own merit, an overall strategy should be in place and more money put into ideas that will contribute to a global improvement of the company's bottom line.

My final issue involves the close relationship between EI and Lean Enterprise. Lean has always encouraged EI, as briefly alluded to in the article. Why then must a separate EI initiative with separate focals be created, when Lean essentially does the same thing? Vision 2016 espouses "large-scale systems integration," so why not practice this with our initiatives also? By separating them, you could be creating a situation where lessons learned cannot easily be shared across the company.

--Dane McCormack, Brisbane, Australia

On rivets and safety

I am writing in reference to the article "From the Surf to the Stars" (February 2004), where an individual received an Engineering Innovation Award for precoating rivets on the C-17 aircraft. In the early 707 production, rivets were dipped in sealant (BMS-512, as I recall) during wing assembly. This practice was halted after a Pan Am 707 (circa 1960) took a lightning strike during landing approach on the East Coast. The 707 landed safely, but one wing was leaking fuel, and on examination it was determined many rivets in the wing skin had "powdered" and dropped away.

Further testing revealed many rivets installed using the dipped sealant technique were electrically isolated from the wing skin panels and were subjected to extreme temperatures in the event of a lighting strike. I have no awareness of the C-17 design. If they have an adequate ground plane, this may not be considered a potential problem. Otherwise, to coin an old phrase, "If you don't learn from other's mistakes, you're destined to repeat them."

I'm a retired engineer. And after some 35 years with Boeing, being assigned to many commercial and military programs, I find the Boeing Frontiers articles most interesting. Good job!

--David Patterson, Las Vegas, Nev.

Which way is east?

Just a thought: The Industry Wrap article (March 2004) with the headline "Looking East" seems backwards to me. From Seattle (perhaps even from Chicago) the shortest range to Asia is westward.

Going eastward to get to Asia makes sense from a Brit's point of view, but Britain's "Middle East" is really our "Far East," while Britain's "Far East" is more like America's "Far West." After more than 200 years of independence, it's time we acquired some occidental perspectives.

--F. Bruce Hoornstra, Seattle

Wasted resources

The mailman delivered 50 new Frontiers magazines for March to the mail location on the first floor. He took the 49 untouched February issues and dumped them in the nearby recycling box. The mail stop upstairs is a similar story, except he only dropped off about 30 March issues, and dumped 69 untouched February issues in the recycling.

This scenario happens here in the 40-04 [building] every month. I suspect other mail stop-recycling stations would yield similar results.

At a time when we are laying off people and struggling to keep a profit margin, isn't this waste the kind of thing that should be fixed?

How about something as simple as if you want the magazine, you go to the Web site and subscribe to it? Then only the people who want it and read it would actually get a copy in the mail.

--Kenneth Hodo, Everett, Wash.

Editor's note: Frontiers is distributed companywide monthly via bulk mail to kiosks or mail racks in work areas, with issue quantities based on approximate employee population at each location. To avoid waste or empty racks, delivery personnel and related administrators for each location are asked to monitor and report quantity overages or shortages on a monthly basis.

Boeing places a high priority on meeting employee communication needs using cost-effective processes. Through employee surveys and cost/benefit analysis, Boeing Communications has determined that the management, postage and transportation costs involved in operating an individual subscription service for employees would be cost prohibitive.

Employees who see a pattern of magazine depletion or excess at a specific location are asked to report the discrepancy to Stan Vickers, (425) 393-2937 or e-mail, so he can adjust the monthly delivery quantity.

Never too late to learn

Model 80 I am certain that I will not be the only person to inform you that the photo of an airplane depicted in the article entitled "Learning's always mattered" (Page 8) in the March 2004 edition of Frontiers is not a Model 40 as described. The Model 40 was a single-engine model and the one shown is a three-engine model and a Model 80 (right).

To see one, come to the Museum of Flight here in Seattle, where I volunteer as a docent. We have a restored Boeing 80A-1 which was rescued from an Alaska dump. It is a fine example of Boeing's early attempts to build a commercial airliner.

--Ronald Michalowicz, Seattle

Editor's note: Our historian, who does know the difference between a Model 40 and a Model 80, apologizes for the typo.

A trip down memory lane

I was surprised when I turned to page 7 ("Letters to the Editor") of the March 2004 issue and was greeted with a picture from my childhood.

My father was a lead aircraft electrician at the Douglas Santa Monica (Calif.) plant and, I believe, worked on the XB-19. He was extremely proud of his association with the company and the plane. When it was rolled out, he loaded the entire family into the car and drove us to Clover Field to see this "wonder of aviation."

One thing that has largely been forgotten about this plane was the lack of (prior) information on handling the weight of the plane on the ground. It was a warm day for the rollout, and the blacktop had softened somewhat.

This allowed the plane to settle into the apron, much to everyone's surprise. After the plane was freed and returned to the hangar, the apron had to be reinforced. One result of this was the introduction of multiple-wheel landing gear to distribute the weight.

In the past, I have read some speculation as to the meaning of the Boeing corporate logo. I have my father's service pen from Douglas and believe that the current company logo is, in part, a stylized replica of the "First Around the World" motto of the old Douglas Company. This was to honor the Douglas seaplanes flown around the world in the 1920s.

I hope that the letter I referred to will encourage others to write their memories of the World War II aircraft industry. The time is late, and memories will be lost for all time.

Thank you for renewing my boyhood memories.

--Richard Heinmiller, Auburn, Wash.

Letters guidelines

Boeing Frontiers provides the letters page for readers to state their opinions. The page is intended to encourage an exchange of ideas and information that stimulates dialogue on issues or events in the company or the aerospace industry. The opinions may not necessarily reflect those of The Boeing Company. Letters must include name, organization and a telephone number for verification purposes. Frontiers may edit letters for grammar, syntax and size.

Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
Copyright© Boeing. All rights reserved.