Recommendations to the New Boeing CEO

1.  Eliminate Dassault’s Catia 5 PLM and MBE

2.  Eliminate the CIO Position

3.  Put Engineering back in Charge of Engineering

4.  Re-implement the Engineering Standard
and Document Control Processes of the Past

5.  Bring Back the Drafting Group


Who am I to recommend anything to a Boeing CEO?

Well, I suppose someone could have recommended a few things to the last CEO.

Let’s look at the fired CEO.

Dennis Muilenburg

Dennis received a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State University, followed by a master's degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington.

This guy has the perfect education!!

But he spent his entire engineering career in the Boeing Military Division.

Commercial Division is much different in purpose, you are designing aircraft that carry hundreds of people multiple times a day.

The basis of commercial airplane design is redundancy.

No one factor will bring down the plane.

That was the problem with the 737 MAX!

Just a few headlines to set the mood!

Today's Headlines! Engineering 101 Updated

Boeing Employee: 737 Max Is ‘Designed by Clowns…Supervised by Monkeys’

Boeing faces $3.9M fine for installing faulty parts on 737 planes

Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system

I Would Never Fly Boeing’s New 777X

Now for the new Boeing CEO

Dave Calhoun

Dave holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Virginia Tech

From his experience he is not an airplane or aerospace man!

He has co-written a book “How Companies Win: Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You're In

Boeing builds airplanes! Profit? Sadly, we live in a profit driven world. Why is Dave here? "Save the Profit"!! The 737 MAX was poorly designed, many warnings were ignored and short cuts taken with an “Aerospace Engineer” at the helm that walked away with $60 million.

My selection would be a Boeing commercial aircraft engineering professional that has hands on industry experience and success overseeing the building of great commercial airplanes and other aerospace projects. You can’t create profit you can only create great products that are in demand. Profit is only a statistic of the success of those products.

Why would we want a commercial airplane man to be CEO?

When I was a young draftsman at Boeing in the 1960’s the Boeing CEO could come down and sit with me and we could talk about the drawing.

Does industry experience matter when selecting a CEO?

Let’s look no further than Steve Jobs. He was fired and replaced by John Sculley. John came from 15 years at Pepsico and took over Apple. See how Steve describes how a CEO’s experience and industry knowledge affects the decisions. I find this an incredible lesson in the continuing success of creating great products! I never get tired of watching it. The wisest words for any CEO!

Steve Jobs Interview Product People should get promoted Over Sales Marketing People


The Jobs interview begs this question.

Can a CEO with an accountants mindset be a product CEO?

I am a Boeing Trained Draftsman.

I will put the highlights of my career in a nutshell.

1965 I worked direct at Boeing Twice for a total of a couple of years.

1967 I excelled in my profession and joined a group of elite engineering professionals, contract engineers or fondly called Job Shoppers. “Have Drafting Machine Will Travel”

My First 17 Years or "How did we do it without 3D CAD!"

1982 Introduced to Computervisions CADDS 4 3D CAD while on contract at Williams Research in Walled Lake, MI, aka “Willy’s Rocket Shop”

1986 While on contract in 747 Flight Deck was introduced to PC base 3D CAD CADKEY

The 1980's - 3D CAD - The Beginning

1987 Foreseeing the popularity of the PC and PC based 3D CAD I founded TECH-NET, Inc.

1987 until 2020 TECH-NET supplied PC based 3D CAD/CAM to all the Boeing suppliers and most of the designers in the NW. I also provide design and drafting services.

The 1990's - 3D CAD/CAM Moves to the PC!!

Now you know who I am let’s get started. 

Recommendations to the New Boeing CEO

1.  Eliminate Dassault’s Catia 5 PLM and MBE

PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)

In industry, product lifecycle management is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception, through engineering design and manufacture, to service and disposal of manufactured products.

I have no idea how this system got picked up by the Major CAD companies, but it has raised havoc in the industrial/mechanical engineering industry ever since! PLM is a top down and engineering is a bottom up process.

Now maybe PLM could be functional for manufacturing a car like it was introduced in 1985 by American Motors (American Motors?) But today it is integrated into the high-end CAD systems used by many different industry. Dassault is not the only culprit.

Boeing had just moved to the PC Base Catia 5 which was basically a clone of the very popular Pro/e system that was developed in 1988 and a quite dated convoluted design system with virtually no transition period.

I have found that PLM tries to tie engineering and manufacturing together!

3D MCAD - CAE - CAM Engineering/Manufacturing Defined
Never the Twain Shall Meet!

The Pro/e paradigm on which Catia 5 is based is not compatible with aircraft design. The only constant in aircraft design is it is going to change. This history-based system is just too overly complicate to do even an easy change if the part is only marginally complex. It is incredibly Murphy Prone.

The only constant in aircraft design is Change

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

But beyond Catia 5 being the world’s worst 3D CAD system they added PLM to the process making the product much more convoluted by promising a functional PDM (Product Data Management) system under the PLM.

Sadly, this option stifled the company to look to other document control options, even computerizing the existing system. Boeing is at the mercy of Dassault!

The Worst to Best 3D MCAD Systems Expanded!

Now Dassault convinced Boeing C-Suite to move to this unproven fiasco, it had to be there because engineering and drafting would have never approved this “dramatic” of a change in the engineering system.

PLM was now to take control of the documentation. In the beginning the release and revision maintenance was still handled like before, the documentation was created from the 3D model and a print of the AID (Associated Information Document) (drawing) was put into the system like manual or electronic drawings.

The Death of the Drawing

But PLM was failing to handle the documentation. One of the aspects of Catia 5 was that it had two synchronized files that made up the part and documentation. The 3D model and the AID (electronic drawing). This was more than likely causing a horror show trying to keep the files synchronized, updated and available.

There was a solution on the horizon.

MBE (Model Base Enterprise)

In 1988 we started using the 3D model as a pattern for CNC, FEA, 3D printing, marketing, Tech docs and many more purposes. We even considered the 3D annotated drawing in model space, but found it much too complicated and not user friendly for review and checking.

PLM people decided MBE with a form of 3D drawing was going to be the new standard engineering document. Not because it was a viable solution requested by engineering but by the sole excuse it would only be a single file to maintain, as the drawing was in the past and easier for PLM to handle!

This is a Bombardier Catia 5 PMI. You have to have the native software/viewer or 3rd party viewer or CAD system. This is the PMI imported into ZW3D

Being a top down only decision they did not foresee all the problems this would cause. The most devastating was if you don’t need AIDs (drawings) you don’t need draftsman or document control as we knew them.

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

That was the moment the engineering world changed.

Enter the PMI (Product Manufacturing Information)

While the 3D model was great for CNC it doesn’t give any other information that was usually included on a fully detailed AID. The material, critical dimensions and tolerance, finish, coatings and other specifications. So, it had to be included somewhere so they threw it in the 3D space of the 3D model. No one can think this is anything but idiotic except for those that do not understand the requirements of properly defined engineering documentation.

This decision introduced bastardized minimized GD&T! This created new engineering disciplines like the dimensional engineer or the new GD&T guru. The emphasis on GD&T became enormous. Again the poor millennial engineer walk in the door as a lamb to slaughter! He had to learn drafting on the job from those that learned it on the job.?"  


A Short Primer and History of Dimensioning

With the 3D model being the authorizing document we faced some huge problems. Instead of just marking up a drawing by adding an ADCN we have to revise the 3D model directly. We are using a very unfriendly to changes Catia 5. Sometimes the changes force the designer to recreate the part. Nope, upper management has no idea of the complications Catia creates. Catia 5 is dependent on the experience and IQ of the operator. Poor users drive the experts crazy. A poorly designed 3D model can cause all sorts of havoc. Which again begs the question: "Are there more user friendly 3D CAD systems available


Can the 3D Model Be Used as the Design Authority?



PLM/MBE/PMI Absurdity!!

This has cost Boeing millions if not billions in errors and slipped schedules and sadly, a tarnish reputation, but it still continues.

What was the basic cause?

Boeing has fallen into a CAD centric engineering environment. In the beginning the data was somewhat compatible with IGES, but with the Pro/e solid modeling paradigm it made the CAD data unique and locked the company into the CAD system. Each CAD system tried to keep the companies dependent on their product and have completely succeeded. Boeing is at the mercy of Dassault as other companies are with PTC, Siemens and Autodesk.

The dependence on the CAD system became so important, CAD experience now trumps industry experience.

I have worked with Boeing and Catia for over 33 years. Dassault is responsible for keeping Boeing one of the most ignorant and isolated manufacturing companies. Their lack of interoperability is beyond belief. They dictate to their suppliers of how to communicate with Boeing, making them jump through hoop after hoop. They demand the supplier buy a validation program if they are not using Catia 5 CNC to assure the models are the same. Oh, yeah, they do! I sold them the software.

Instead of Boeing completely understanding the basics of 3D CAD and setting up a compatible system they depended on Dassault's unique solution. Yes, the company that released two CAD products with the same name totally incompatible!!!

I was responsible for making Boeing mainframe Catia 2, 3 and 4 compatible with their suppliers and other Boeing divisions by selling and supporting them with PC based 3D CADKEY for over a decade. I am sure no one at Boeing even noticed.

Compare and Validation Programs? Band-Aids for Self Inflicted Wounds!

32 Years of 3D MCAD Incompatibility


Boeing must break its dependence on the CAD system and move its documentation out of the CAD system and back into a Boeing managed Document Control System. They need to eliminate the PMI and move to a 3D Model/AID for the release of the documentation.

We need to break the associativity of the Pro/e paradigm at the part level leaving the assemblies for reference. We need to release the native 3D model and AID together away from the CAD system. We need to pack the assemblies for reference, breaking all associativity. This would be stored in an independent archive available to all interested department, preferably on a cloud-based database. This alone would eliminate the need for the PLM/MBE overhead!

Today, they are trying to maintain massive "LIVE" data. Oh my, what could go wrong?

In a nutshell you eliminate PLM and MBE in the engineering.

Standard Cloud Based
Engineering Document Control

Standard Cloud Based
Engineering Document Control Part II

The Embedded Title Block! A PLM Solution!

2.  Eliminate the CIO Position

Many of the problems are intertwined at Boeing. What is PLM really? Just a software package that manages more software packages.

Here is a story from1986 in Boeing 747/767 Flight Deck

I just took a contract in 747 flight deck I think we were brought on for the 747-400. I was introduced to PC based 3D CADKEY and I talked my supervisor into letting me do the first observers’ workstation on CADKEY for a test project. It came off with flying colors and the CADKEY orders jumped.

Soon we had 35 seats of CADKEY with every draftsman and board design engineer utilizing it. I was incredibly compatible with the two Catia 2 seats using IGES, which was shocking at the level of the technology. Supervision was elated at the increased productivity.

But not all were happy with this PC (Personal Computer) revolution!

Let me introduce BCS (Boeing Computer Services)

As we all know computers first showed up on huge mainframes.

“HAL, open the Pod Bay Doors”

Companies were quickly being computerized. Many of the programs like word processing, accounting, document management, etc were being computerized and made available with local terminals tied to the mainframe computers.

The world was good for the computer services. They were the ones in control of the computerization. With the move to the computer came power.

Enter IBM and Microsoft!

With the introduction of the Personal Computer also came a new layman's expertise in computers. The almighty BCS had some competition.

It was the draftsman that were first put on CADKEY to design and create the documentation. All the Boeing draftsman took to 3D CAD design like a duck to water. Many learned not only the CAD system but the word processors and the spread sheet programs. We would promote playing games to get them familiar with PC operations.

One day a group of BCS “gestapo” walked into our group. Due to my past experience in 3D CAD, our group was far ahead of most. The BCS folks demanded we not use the provided programming language call CADL (CADKEY Advanced Design Language). This was an integral part of CADKEY. It was how we would import specific portions of graphics between files, plus some sophisticated programming functions. If you are familiar with AutoCAD it is similar to LISP.

Only BCS did Programming!

This caused huge problems between BCS and the Drafting Group that, I believe, continued until BCS now Information Technology eliminated the complete drafting group at the turn of the century by renaming draftsman to Engineering Techs and folding them into engineering and slowly letting them go by attrition. Today, you are required to have a minimum of a BSME to work in engineering.

Slowly BCS, a service group, now Information Technology gained more and more power and as I describe above with PLM they basically took over engineering.

When you take over engineering you basically take over the company.

Information Technology has now move to a C-Suite position call the CIO (Chief Information Officer). Being an InfoTech or IT is like being in a brotherhood or cult. Your allegiance is not to your company but to this hugely influential and powerful group. Now, this tightly knit web of professionals had their own world. They would devise plans on increasing their power.

The CIO is like the CFO. Two positions you could move back to VP positions. They are both service organizations. It is funny that Boeing would put an accountant in the CEO position, we all know bean counters are more concerned with beans than the products, in this case the "World's Greatest Airplanes". 

He who controls the software controls the world.

Today, we see them promote “software only solutions”. It is usually software to cure the problems of the earlier software failed solutions. Trust me it will never stop no matter how ineffective it is. They are the judge and jury. Many of these "digital" projects are promote by organizations the likes of WEF and McKensey!

They create hugely generic names for these programs.

Industry 4.0

IoT (Internet of Things)


Digital Twin

Digital Thread

And the greatest InfoTech fraud.

Digital Transformation.

What is wrong with all these projects they are complete defined, controlled and implemented by the InfoTechs and promoted and supported in each large company by their own “CIO”.

Yes Mr. CEO the fox is guarding your hen house.

Digital Transformation - 70% Failure! $900 Billion Wasted!

The InfoTechs Motto: The Cash must Flow!

3.  Put Engineering back in Charge of Engineering

As you can see above that PLM and the CIO are now in charge of engineering through the Dassault Catia 5 PLM/MBE program. Engineering is now operating under their software and guidelines to make it easy for them not the engineers.

It is not that these InfoTech dictate how we do our engineering tasks, they define the tools and processes.

We must eliminate as much CAD centricity as we can

Stuck with a CAD software

CADKEY or Catia? Boeing’s Billion-Dollar 3D CAD Mistake!

Boeing has stuck with Dassault through some tough times, first Catia 2 and 3 wireframe, Catia 4 Boolean solids and PC based Catia 5 Pro/e clone.

It is quite interesting, even though Boeing was probably involved with the development of Catia 5, not one person thought about accessing the legacy data of Catia 4.

These were two completely incompatible systems.

Talking to Catia!! and other Popular 3D CAD Packages

IronCAD/Inovate = Catia 4.5 - The Catia 4 and Catia 5 incompatibility Solution

Virtually every CAD package is forward compatible. Autodesk didn't create a Pro/e clone and name it Autocad 5 they named it Inventor. It is like Boeing and Dassault have anyone that even understands the basics of 3D CAD interoperablity! It took them until 1998 to get to the PC.

I was instrumental in providing CAD software that could read and write both Catia 4 and Catia 5 programs. I had a Boeing Tech using my software to do Catia 5 and other popular CAD systems conversions to Catia 4 for different commercial division groups. No direct import was possible because Catia 4 had a 34 meg size limitation. He had to import it into my software and break it into usable files. I was very excited that I was finally going to sell IronCAD software into Boeing!

But I bumped into the "Translation Group" manager. My solution took less than an hour and could be put in the hands of each group, his took two weeks. He had a small amount of power and decided to ignore my solution. Doing this he blocked the direct access of every design group easy access to the “native” files of virtually every major CAD system that were used by their equipment suppliers.

Boeing equipment suppliers used a myriad of CAD systems. And Boeing basically had no idea how to import the purchased equipment. All files have to go through a translation service if they don't come as an unapproved STEP file. Yes, very time consuming.

Boeing’s relationship with Dassault's Catia is riddled with many of these decisions that have cost billions.  

4.  Reimplement the Engineering Standard
And Document Control Processes of the Past

So how do we reimplement a workable system.

When Boeing was moving to 3D CAD, the CAD system just provided standard detailed AIDs that would be plotted on vellum and release like manual drawings. They would create prints or put them on microfiche until the introduction of the PDF. But the limitation of the Catia 5 PLM system demanded some very obscure solutions like MBE/PMI that I described above.

These solutions must be eliminated, and we need to the reevaluate engineering process from the ground up. Paying attention to the past when it was done manually. Manually is not a bad word it is a stable and in stone process. Unlike today with unreliable data all over. All we did was add the 3D model. How in the world did a simple document control system get so convoluted just by computerization?

Sadly, as long as engineering is under the control of the InfoTechs it will always be a software solution.

Much of engineering is manual. Yes, it can be digital, but it has a manual solution. Not everything has to be automated. Automation eliminates much of the human involvement that may be required. This has become Mr. Murphy's playground.

Today, we do not have a human (user) and computerized (InfoTech) collaboration. The user is the last to be consulted and we suffer under the user interface that the InfoTech supply. The funny thing today, is that the user is blamed for not understanding the interface as they struggle to work around it.

This is what they are blaming the failure of the Digital Transformation movement which includes PLM and the other generalized digital terms.

Digital Transformation - 70% Failure! $900 Billion Wasted!

We put the CAD system and InfoTech back in a service position under engineering management, and we educate the management. We reevaluate the requirements of engineering by looking to the incredible Boeing standards of the past.

We move the documentation out of the CAD system and deliver it to a document controls system that manages a cloud based “BluePrint Counter”. Only the lack of understanding the nature engineering documentation could not see this simple solution!

A cloud based system would include the native CAD file and an ability to export (download) to all of the neutral formats, plus the ability to store any file format. Word doc, Excel spreadsheets, PDF, images, etc. All in an internet browser.

Standard Cloud Based
Engineering Document Control

Standard Cloud Based
Engineering Document Control Part II

The Embedded Title Block! A PLM Solution!

Engineering will move to being non-CAD centric. Yes, we need Specific CAD systems for some parametric situations, but they are not the basis of our engineering documentation. We will bring back fully detailed AIDs as part of the released engineering and store them with the associated 3D model. The assemblies will be in a accessible format. My 3D CAD solutions are single model or multi-object environments. ZW3D even has integrated AIDs imagine how that would eliminate much of the PDM problems.

3D CAD Single Model Design Environment

The Integrated Drawing in 3D CAD


The Catia 5 system is based on a very dated CAD paradigm that was introduced in 1988 by PTC and it is just too convoluted for airplane design in which the only constant is change. It is another Mr. Murphy’s playground.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

There are other much more productive interoperable 3D CAD solutions. It is time for companies not only reevaluate the engineering process but look to more productive CAD tools available today. Boeing has been stuck with Dassault for 35 years.

Here are two comparisons, so you can see that there are much better CAD solutions. This is not trivial increased productivity and document control.

IronCAD vs CATIA Lesson 3 Assembly

ZW3D vs Catia Lesson 3 Assembly

5.  Bring Back the Drafting Group

I wrote this article in preparation for this article.

Can Engineering Survive without the Drafting Group?

The Drafting Group was responsible for all the engineering documentation.

Engineering's total purpose is to make available concise, complete and unambiguous documentation to manufacturing.

Today documentation is treated like just another job for the engineer. The engineer is not a draftsman. Drafting was an ancient mentored profession of creation of the engineering documentation. I was a specialized engineering documentation professional. No, it was not a formal profession like an engineer. I am not sure why. But is a finite body of knowledge and requires an associates two-year degree. I have a Certificate of Drafting from a Boeing sponsored course that was 40 hours a week for 12 weeks, 480 hours.

This article is a must read if you are in engineering management. Engineering management is the weakest link in today's system. Much of their power has been alloyed with a mixture of digital processes managed by the InfoTechs.

Engineering Documentation Today!

Engineering Yesterday & Today
Engineer's Job Description
The Search for the Purple Squirrel

Yet, as Boeing eliminated the drafting group, they expected the engineer to take up the slack of creating the documentation. How much training? Maybe one drafting class in college. They are also required to know the company CAD system.

There was virtually no transition plan provided. This is always the result of trying to reinvent the wheel in a place where the wheel is very well defined.

Product knowledge, proven standards and work force
continuity is the formula for design success.

It is funny to me to see an engineering tout his CAD and GD&T experience. He is not even a glorified draftsman.

Should the New 3D CAD Engineer Learn Drafting?

Educating the New 3D CAD Engineer

The Millennial 3D MCAD Engineer

Even as I joke about his situation, we need to have a group that is responsible for the engineering documentation

We need a group that makes sure the documentation provides the correct form, fit and function design, unambiguous and stands alone no matter what form it is in.

Manual/Electronic Drawing



Engineering Documentation - A Primer for the PLM Guru!

Bring back the Engineering Checker as a permanent position.

If we leave the documentation in the hands of the 3D CAD engineer we at least need a permanent checking position in the group. These checkers would review the design for form, fit and function and assure the parts/assemblies documentation was complete and could stand alone.

In the past Draftsmen would do a drawing, the checker would put a red mark if wrong and a yellow mark if correct. And the draftsman would learn the correct standards from every doing the corrections on the drawing. After a few years he would become a design draftsman with more product knowledge than most of the engineers. This process would be applied to the current millennial engineers, making them much better 3D CAD engineers and at a much faster rate.  

We don’t care what they call this group and who mans it.

This groups sole responsibility is for making available correct engineering documentation to a viable document control group.

You cannot short cut engineering documentation!


I don't even attempt to give the impression that I could design and manufacture an airplane. There is no one that can, engineering, documentation and manufacturing have many different groups and processes. These separate processes have to be coordinated by a defined set of systems where you just plug in the people!

I remember working with the contract design draftsman in Detroit while working at Williams International. Most were automotive designers. The best automotive job was to work at GM in the Corvette Division. No one designs a Corvette, you were in the brake group, suspension group, body group, etc. But just working it the "Corvette Division" provided a level of prestige!

The same with aerospace, it was NASA. My most exciting job was working on the MMU. I was responsible for the control arms. But again the space program was the cream of the crop!!

No, I could never come up with high level design decisions. Most of my designs are based on "How did they do it before". Nor could I do the analysis to assure that the part/assemblies would be strong enough to withstand the required stresses. Or select the materials and many other "engineering" decisions.

But I am a drafting professional and can do the most important thing engineering produces.

Correct, concise, complete and unambiguous
engineering documentation

Documentation is the language of engineering, it is through these documents it defines the dreams of mankind to achieve the most common to the most extraordinary of things.

The costs of a non-standard in stoned documentation control system can be catastrophic!

Yes, it is time for Boeing and many other manufacturing companies to realize you can not short cut engineering documentation and put a drafting or an engineering documentation and document control group back in place.

Please feel free to stop by our website below for a variety of articles on the State of our Industry, interesting articles on 3D CAD Productivity and a few of our projects!

Viewpoints on Today's 3D CAD and Engineering Industry

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provide engineering services throughout the USA and Can

Why TECH-NET Sells IronCAD and ZW3D

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Joe Brouwer