Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2013

Boeing 787: More Electric Architecture

by Willy Shih

Abstract

The "more electric architecture" of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner represented a significant shift in the design of secondary power systems for commercial aircraft, compared to traditional designs that employed a mix of hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical power. While the design promised improved fuel efficiency and lower operating costs, competitor Airbus was critical of some of the changes Boeing made. The case offers students the opportunity to understand the motivations and key enablers for the shift, and consider whether the approach is more risky than one taken by Airbus with its A350XWB.

Keywords: technological innovation; Boeing; 787; Airbus; A350XWB; architectural innovation; technological substitution; Technological Innovation; Vertical Integration; Air Transportation; Aerospace Industry; United States;

Citation:

Shih, Willy. "Boeing 787: More Electric Architecture." Harvard Business School Case 614-015, September 2013.