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经济学人:波音公司的不幸 噩梦般的客机

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IT WAS tempting fate to call an ambitious new aircraft the "Dreamliner". A combination of radical technology and a novel outsourced system of manufacture has turned the Boeing 787 into a nightmare.

把一架充满雄心的新型飞机称为"梦幻客机",这一举动是种不必要的冒险。高端前沿技术和新型外包制造流程结合在一起,把波音787客机拖入进了梦魇。
Since its launch in December 2003, delay has piled on delay. The 787's seal of approval from the American and European aviation authorities on August 26th and its first delivery—to All Nippon Airways in late September—come more than three years behind schedule.
从2003年十二月研发开始以来,延期就一再发生。波音787客机在8月26日才通过美国和欧洲航空当局的审批。第一批787客机将在9月下旬才能交付给全日空航空公司,这比预计日期晚了三年多。
Nor do the company's woes end there: it now faces the difficult task of ramping up production and delivering 787s to impatient customers. Three dozen part-finished 787s are lying around airfields by Boeing's Everett factory north of Seattle, with ten more inside. The original plan was to have delivered over 100 787s by the end of 2009. Instead the company will be lucky to dispatch seven by the end of this year, and it will be late 2013 before production reaches the ten planes a month needed to break into profit.
波音公司的灾难还远未结束。当前的难题是如何提高产量并及时把成品787客机交付给早等得不耐烦的客户手上。在位于西雅图的埃弗雷特波音组装厂内,停机坪上爬着三十六架部分完成的787客机,厂房内还停着十多架。原计划在2009年底交付一百多架787客机,现在看,能在今年年底交付七架,波音就算是走运了。波音想要盈利必须月产十架飞机,而要达到这一产量至少要等到2013年底才行。
The delays were caused by suppliers. Vought in America and Alenia in Italy delivered defective chunks of the new composite plastic fuselage. Vought struggled so much that Boeing had to buy it. There were also hitches in the supply of smaller parts such as fasteners. Delays, reworking and compensation to customers all burned cash. Inventory costs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes swelled from about $17 billion in December 2009 to more than $24 billion by December 2010.
供应商导致了客机交付的延迟。美国的沃特公司和意大利的阿列尼亚公司所提供的新型合成塑料机身部件存有缺陷。沃特公司对此反应激烈,据理力争,最后波音不得不买下了这些部件。就连安全带这样的小配件,在供应上也出过小差池。供件延期,重新制造,客户赔款,件件都要花钱。波音商业飞机的库存费用从2009年12月约170亿美元增长到了2010年12月的240多亿美元。
Bernstein, a research firm, estimates that Boeing will not start making money until it delivers its 45th aircraft, and the overall programme will not earn a profit until 1,000 aircraft have been delivered. Boeing officials suggest that this is too pessimistic. More details should emerge in October, with Boeing's third-quarter results.
研究机构伯恩斯坦估计:在第45架787客机交付使用后,波音公司才能开始盈利。交付使用一千架787客机后,整个项目计划才有利润可言。波音官员给出的回应是此种预测太过悲观,更多的细节应该会随着10月份波音第三季度财务报告的公布而浮出水面。
The Dreamliner's delays are especially painful because its launch was Boeing's most successful ever. Attracted by the new plane's promise of fuel economy—20% better than competitors—customers flocked to order more than 950. The strong plastic fuselage also allows for a nicer cabin with bigger windows and fresher, less pressurised air. The current order book is still 821 after cancellations. But early orders were all booked either at discounted launch prices or at levels set before the plane's production costs soared, and Boeing has little hope of putting up the price.
"梦幻客机"曾被看成是波音公司有史以来最成功的客机,因此这架客机的种种延迟显得尤为让人痛心。比其它同类客机多省20%的燃油,这一经济耗能的承诺,吸引来众多客户,他们一窝蜂地订购了950多架787客机。得益于坚固的塑料机身,波音787客机拥有更为舒适的客舱,更大的舷窗,过滤出更新鲜的空气,同时机舱内空气压缩的比重会更低。现在787客机的订单刨去已取消的,还有821架。但是,早期订单所定价格无一例外地要么就是研发时期的折扣价,要么就是在客机制造成本飚升前制定的各种价格。而且,波音想要提价的希望,能实现的可能性微乎其微。
Hopes were high in 2003 that the Dreamliner's revolutionary plastic airframe would make for easier assembly than conventional aluminium ones. This may yet prove to be true, as even Airbus has opted to follow Boeing, switching to plastic in its new aircraft. Privately, Boeing officials admit that an all-new plane, a new technology and a new way of working with manufacturers (which involved risk-sharing), was too much novelty all at once.
2003年,人们对"梦幻客机"的期望值很高。这在于其革命性的塑料骨干比传统铝质骨干更容易装配。就连老对手空客也效仿波音,在其新型飞机上采用塑料机身,这也许能证明这种在技术上的转变是正确的。私下里,波音官员们承认,一架全新的飞机,一项新型的技术,再加上一种同厂商合作的新型制作模式(合作厂商也要承担风险),一次性叠加上的新型元素实在太多了。
The nightmare is having knock-on effects. On August 29th Boeing's board approved the launch of an upgraded version of its best-selling 737 single-aisle model, to be called the 737 MAX. This is a sign that Boeing is playing catch-up with Airbus, which has won over 1,200 orders for its re-engined single-aisle A320. Boeing had been hoping to hold off until it could offer an all-new single-aisle aircraft, based on the 787's plastic technology. But in July American Airlines—one of Boeing's core customers—decided to give Airbus the lion's share of its order (the world's biggest) to renew its single-aisle fleet. Boeing had to scale back its ambitions. "We have the technology," says an insider. "But the lesson of the 787 is that we could not get the production up to scratch in time."
这场噩梦的连锁效应正在逐渐显现。8月29日,波音董事会批准以旗下最畅销的737单行通道飞机为蓝本,推出其升级版,并命名为737 MAX。这是波音就要追赶空客的信号。空客公司旗下重新改装引擎的A320单行通道飞机赢得了超过1200张订单。波音之前曾希望在787客机所采用的塑料技术应用成熟后,推出一款以此技术为基础的新型单行通道客机。但在今年七月,波音核心客户之一的美国航空公司为了更新其单行通道飞机,决定给空客提供最大份额的订单(也是全世界最大的)。波音不得不面对现实,把自己的雄心壮志压了下来。一位波音公司的内部人士表示:"我们有技术,但787客机的教训在于我们不能及时生产出令人满意的产品。

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scale [skeil]

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n. 鳞,刻度,衡量,数值范围
v. 依比例决

 
novelty ['nɔvəlti]

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n. 新奇,新奇的事物,小装饰

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insider ['in'saidə]

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n. 局内人,知情人

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seal [si:l]

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n. 印章,封条
n. 海豹
v.

 
current ['kʌrənt]

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n. (水、气、电)流,趋势
adj. 流通的

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delay [di'lei]

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v. 耽搁,推迟,延误
n. 耽搁,推迟,延期

 
defective [di'fektiv]

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adj. 有缺陷的,不完全变化的(动词) n. 有缺陷的

 
radical ['rædikəl]

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adj. 激进的,基本的,彻底的
n. 激进分

 
conventional [kən'venʃənl]

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adj. 传统的,惯例的,常规的

 
original [ə'ridʒənl]

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