Re: B767 design fault (feature?)

Date:         13 Jul 97 01:25:55 
From:         k_ish <kenish@ix.netcom.NOSPAM.com>
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Kim Hackett wrote:
> >>>Returning with me on a BA B767 to LHR from a conference in Berlin,
> >>>my girl-friend was a bit miffed to discover that her seat had no
> >>>foot-rest ...
> >>>Thinking she had a defective seat, I did a quick check. All the
> >>>middle seats in the centre block were minus foot-rest. All other
> >>>seats had one. (We're talking economy class here!)

> I would not consider this subject to be named a B767 design fault.
> Passenger seats are a decision made by the airline and little
> to do with Boeing.  Several years ago I spent a week with Boeing
> Customer Engineering in Renton, WA.  At that time I was told by
> the Manager of Customer Engineering that Boeing does not purchase
> the seats that they use in the aircraft.  Each airline is responsible
> for the purchase and delivery of the seats to the final production line.
> In the early '80s, Boeing was finding that it was spending much in
> resources to expedite the delivery of seats that had been ordered
> by various airlines for their aircraft.  The seats were not being
> delivered in time to make aircraft delivery schedults.
> Boeing was threatening to finish the aircraft without the seats
> and park them on the ramp until the seats were delivered.

There are 3 ways a piece of equipment can get on a Boeing aircraft.  The
first is Seller-Furnished Equipment (SFE) where Boeing provides the
equipment on a list of standard options.  This would include things like
the 2 or 3 door option on 757s, engine types, etc.

The second is Buyer-Furnished Equipment (BFE).  Boeing issues generic
specifications for seats, galleys, lavs, some avionics, etc.  As long as
the item is approved by Boeing, the airline can purchase the items,
deliver it to the Boeing BFE warehouse by a production due date, and it
will be installed.

The last way is Post Delvery Modification (PDM).  Boeing could object to
a modification, but ultimately the aircraft is owned by the airline (or
a bank) and as long as the governmental agencies (such as FAA) approve
the mod, it is theoretically out of Boeing's authority.  In reality,
most airlines obtain an NTO (No Technical Objection) letter from Boeing
just to be sure.

PDMs occur for many reasons- the airline changed their mind too late
for  BFE/SFE installation at the factory, the airline can do the
installation cheaper than Boeing, the piece of equipment is wanted by
the airline but does not meet Boeing specifications, the equipment meets
foreign but not FAA standards, etc.

A common misconception is that seats are designed by the manufacturer.
Seats are BFE, and their comfort and placement in the cabin is up to
each airline within certain limits.  So if a seat is hard on your back,
and cramped, blame the airline, not Boeing/Airbus/MD.

(The BFE/SFE terminology is specific to Boeing, but the idea is the same
at other manufacturers).

Ken Ishiguro