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Testing Lessons from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Fiasco

Just last week, all the 50 Dreamliners worldwide were grounded by FAA indefinitely.   Reason: their Lithium Ion batteries were unsafe with possibilities of leakage.   Boeing continues to defend its baby which was launched after years of grooming in 2011.   But the fact is, the overheated battery might have become a cause for an explosion. Dreamliners are now under the microscope of aviation authorities in the United States and Japan, but there is no resolution on what might be wrong. This is not only a big black eye for Boeing but also creates a FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), in the minds of travelers across the world.

There are hundreds of Dreamliners in queue, waiting to come to birth. Boeing has made a huge investment on this effort, but everything is up in the air as Dreamliner’s credibility is questioned. It has alarmed people and made us question the viability of technology. Is quality assurance being sidelined at the expense of making rapid advancements and in my parlance — gain instant gratification? And the consequences of this are not very pretty. Grounding the 787 will not only have an effect on Boeing, but  it will also effect its clients i.e. the airline. This grounding will cause the airline almost $1.1M a day! Boeing’s credibility is questioned and the shareholder’s confidence dwindles.

Last year, I had blogged about a million dollar bug — discover it before it discovers you! So, could they have potentially avoided this conundrum by scrutinizing their quality assurance?  Why wasn’t the design flaw caught early on while the Dreamliners were ‘teething’. Has the need to advance technologically taken over the need for safety and well – being? That’s scary and it tells us that we have a bigger problem. We would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Interestingly, Rutesh, our CEO and founder who presents this session cites an example of an online brokerage firm which was hit by an unknown bug and halted all trading activity with losses of more than 60k trades in less than 30 minutes. And, the approach to deal with this is was what we call the war room approach to find the root cause and create a solid back-up system to make sure that all lost trades are executed at the customer’s discretion. Of course, it’s very important to arm your QA teams with the right ammunition to create solid QA processes, which we call out-of-the-box squad approach which are used to identify the deadly bugs and create enough readiness to fight them, as soon as they’re spotted.




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