Boeing’s Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

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I don’t think that the Beltway Bandits took President Trump seriously when he said that he wanted to drain the swamp. Their problem with The Donald is that whenever he tweets or speaks, it goes around the world a dozen times or more.
Thus the price tag of the new VC-25 aircraft on order (Air Force One) and it’s summary rejection, blasted out of the lobby at Trump Tower, may have been a bit like slapping Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing, in the face with a dead flounder.
Air Force One is a flying billboard for Boeing…and at $2 billion per aircraft, one can only opine that they were trying to build a self-licking ice cream cone. And President Trump just wanted an airplane that doesn’t need all of those extra seats for the White House Press Corps. A VIRTUAL MIRAGE EXCLUSIVE: The soto voce comment off camera was “We’ll take two or three of those hacks. The rest of those bastards including CNN and NBC can rent an airplane if they want to follow”. Screwing with the president-elect endlessly has consequences.
So does offering him a self-licking ice cream cone, as Boeing learned the hard way.

President George W. Bush began the process of looking into a redesign of Marine One, the presidential helicopter, an H-3 that was about 30 years old. It was time to upgrade. But the program quickly went way over budget — although the problem wasn’t with Sikorski. The original contract was for 28 helicopters for $6.1 billion. But, “numerous Pentagon-mandated changes ballooned the price tag to $11.2 billion.”  Barack canceled the program as being too expensive and today, those H-3s are still flying for the White House.

I can only guess that Boeing will sharpen its pencils and will return with something that President Trump can live with…without plush accommodations for the Press Corps.

20 thoughts on “Boeing’s Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

  1. The defense department in general, not just Boeing, has abused its position. Because their products are vital to the defense of the US, they have figured that they can jack up the price on everything by hundreds of percents. And of course they are familiar with the defense bureaucracy that allows it.

    With nobody looking at the bills, Boeing and their accomplices in the defense bureaucracy have gotten away with robbing the taxpayers for many decades. Maybe this will shake up the 'swamp' a bit.

    Maybe not. The education bureaucracy has done the same thing; 'it's for the children.' And once that phrase is put into play, anything goes, and the bills on education spending get inflated to fantastic amounts over budget, and nobody is held accountable.

    There's a new sheriff in town who actually looks at the bills. We'll see how this all plays out over the next 8 years.

  2. My 15 years as an engineer for a defense contractor taught me that the problem is usually that the DOD writes requirements that contradict each other. I'm a radio (RF) engineer, and we used to say that the DOD would just invoke any MilSpec with the letters "RF" in it, and leave it to the suppliers to figure out what it meant and how to comply with the portions that contradicted each other.

    I was told the legendary $500 toilet seat started out that way. It was the only way to get a non-standard toilet seat, which was caused by a bunch of requirements for the rest of the plane that made it impossible to fit a standard toilet in there.

    I have no doubt that whatever agency is specifying these planes is invoking dozens of requirements that contradict each other.

  3. The Dept. of Education is union-driven. The union has been in charge too long and the deliverable is not being delivered the way that it should.

    DOD is a completely different monster and many of us have stories of massive foolishness and outright incompetence and theft. My sense of it is that not much will change, but the Beltway Bandits will exercise more caution — and that is a good idea. General Mattis is well aware of the shenanigans that are an integral part of the business and will act as a barrier to some of it.

    Don't get me started on the F-35 or the Littoral Combat Ship. Just don't.

  4. I think that you nailed it.

    And maybe Boeing can be responsible enough to sit down with these clowns and explain that "adding propellors to the 747 as a measure of back-up safety" isn't the best of ideas.

    I presently consult with an agency of USGOV, but I don't know if I'd sell them anything other than advice. The reason is that they can take YEARS to pay. A vendor has to have the legs to shoulder that problem without going bankrupt. And the price always goes up because of it. In my case, I simply say, "find another fool" – and they find the money to pay me in shorter order. But you can't do that if you're selling toilet seats or tanks.

  5. Speaking of the F-35 and the Littoral Tugboat Payload, (my old company) Lockheed-Martin really soiled its nest when it threw its support in with Hillary. I think they should have to pay for that decision, frankly.

  6. They believed the pundits. A lot of companies did and shoveled money into the Clinton Foundation to curry favor.

    The American voters said otherwise. Now Lockheed-Martin has to deal with a swamp-draining administration, whereas the Clintons would have borrowed money not giving a rat's ass how it was spent.

  7. From the reports, it sounds like a WW2 Frigate could shoot the shit of of the LCS -if the LCS could manage to arrive at the scene, of course.

    "Octave of Disaster"- I like that!

    There is a dangerous distortion commonly quoted, along the lines of -"The US spends x more more than China on defense." The implied corollary is we GET more. I am not at all sure that metric applies.

  8. I would not want to be in the LCS if a WW2 Frigate was within gun range of it. A Fletcher Class Destroyer of WW2 vintage would make short work of one.

    The US Military is very capable. The Chinese Navy can not engage the US Navy and Air Force in a brawl and hope to come out of it without a drubbing. Having said that, the Chinese are building a lot of capable ships and as mentioned on another blog, numbers do matter in both ships and airplanes.

  9. Actually Sikorski didn't get the contract for Marine 1, also the real problem was the change orders had the helo over Max Gross before the first gallon of fuel went in, much less the crew and pax…

  10. I checked and naturally, you're right. The canceled contract was with Lockheed. The present contract is with Sikorski to build the new Marine 1 (S/VH-92) helicopter series.

    Why didn't they go with an Osprey?

  11. Now we have a President-elect who knows something about airplanes, and dealing with Boeing. The YouTube videos about Trump's personal Boeing I find fascinating.

  12. President Trump's 757 was previously owned by Paul Allen (Microsoft). My sense follows yours in that he likely did his homework on Boeing and their aircraft.

  13. Boeing charges $370 million for a 747-8F. That's what it costs with bells and whistles, customized to meet customer demands. That's what Allen and the Saudi billionaires paid plus or minus a few million. Donald Trump doesn't understand why it would cost 1,630,000,000 more for each Air Force 1 aircraft.

    Of course, if it's a self-licking ice cream cone…

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