Time is money, and these folks have plenty of both
The Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” prototype finally took off yesterday from Everett, Washington. It made a five hour flight and went through some successful tests before landing at Boeing Field. Boeing’s CEO said that the flight will “validate the airplane to an extent”. Well, that’s great and all, but will it validate the fact that the plane is two years behind schedule and millions over budget?
Boeing says that the blame was in the supply line. Industry experts say that Boeing outsourced too much with too little oversight. Whatever the reason, it’s not good enough. To be fair, Airbus had similar issues with their new plane, but Boeing is local. And Boeing has been turning in negative financial results. I wonder why? Sometimes it’s no wonder we’re in the financial situation we’re in when companies can blow through that kind of money and still consider it a success. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.
The “Big Dig”
The Big Dig was a project to reroute a major highway in Boston though a tunnel under the city. Well, that sounds easy and cheap. It was a notorious topic in the region for years due to the fact that it hemorrhaged so much money. Originally budgeted at $2.8 billion in 1985, there are estimates that it will end up costing as much as $22 billion including interest when all is said and done. Oh, they should have it paid for by 2038.
The Spruce Goose
During the middle of World War II in 1942 the government decided they needed a transport that would get troops and tanks to Europe faster than shipping them by sea. Figuring that a lunatic would be the best man for the job, they signed Howard Hughes (along with Henry Kaiser, who by all accounts was actually sane) to build them a big plane. The result was the H-4 Hercules. It was so big that because of steel rationing, it was constructed from wood. This was the reason it was dubbed the Spruce Goose by the media, a nickname that Hughes hated. Of course, he also hated his employees, was germaphobe, and had severe OCD.
It took so long to build this plane that by the time it was ready for a test flight the war had been over for two years. It did fly. Once. For 300 yards.
Denver International Airport
In 1989, the mayor of Denver authorized the beginnings of a new airport for the city, and hilarity ensued. The old airport was outdated and had become the 10th busiest in the world. The jewel of the airport was to be the new, one-of-a-kind baggage system. We’ll get to that later. First, you need to build the airport. Delays caused by poor planning and repeated design changes due to changing requirements from United Airlines (who have a major hub there) caused the opening day to be pushed back, first to December 1993, then to March 1994. By September 1993, delays due to a strike and other events meant opening day was pushed back again, to May 15, 1994. Now we get to the amazing, unique, money-saving, awesome baggage system.
The system was first shown to the press in April 1994 when officials invited them to view it in operation for the first time. They were treated to an amusing display, as many bags were ejected off the system, crashing to the floor with resounding thuds. The original cost of the system ($186 million) was growing by $1 million per day as engineers attempted to fix the glitches. The whole thing was finally abandoned in 2005 with baggage now being manually transferred around by handlers. As for the airport as a whole, it opened 2 years late and $2 billion over budget.
The Sydney Opera House
This unique structure down under was started with a design competition in 1953 and ground was broken for construction in 1958. It was built in three phases with an initial estimated cost of $7 million. What followed were design changes, delays, and spending up the kazoo.
The theater was scheduled for completion in 1963. The doors opened in grand fashion in 1973. That’s an entire decade to spend money on extras. The total cost amounted to $108 million, or about 1500% of the original estimate.
The Orange Crush
Most of you probably won’t know a thing about this, but I have to deal with this pile of crap every day. I live in Orange, CA, near the “Orange Crush”. It’s the intersection of the 22, 57, and I-5 freeways.
The reason I included it is when they decided to renovate it, they went nuts. By the time it was finished, years behind schedule and tens of millions over budget, it was completely obsolete for the amount of traffic it handles. It was in the 2002 Guinness Book of World Records as the most complex highway interchange in the world with 34 different routes and a river running underneath to boot. That gives me a total of 35 options to go Grand Theft Auto IV on someone.