Qantas and other buyers of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have some statements from Jim Albaugh, Boeing’s president and CEO of commercial airplanes, to deal with this morning.

Even if you couldn’t care less about air travel, or airlines,  or Boeing, Albaugh’s words are evidence of the damage that spin and deception can inflict on the brand value of a corporation and its customers when there is an unwillingness to look for the reality than can be hidden by hyperbole.

Albaugh was in Riyadh at the Global Competitiveness Forum, of all things, when he is reported to have said of the chronically delayed and technically challenged plastic jet:

“We didn’t think the Dreamliner through.

“Some of the technology was not as mature as it should have been and we put a global supply chain together without thinking through some of the consequences.

“When you put immature technology in your supply chain and don’t supply adequate oversight, you have issues and that (is) what we had.

“That said, it is going to be a magnificent airplane and will be 20 percent more efficient than the airplanes it is replacing.”

This is the head of a program for which there are currently about 850 orders for a jet for that Qantas has signed up for 50, the first of which were to have been delivered in August 2008.

It is a project in which Boeing shamed itself by wheeling out a hollow or mock  “prototype” Dreamliner on July 8, 2007, claiming it would fly by the end of September that year and be delivered from May 2008.

If Boeing didn’t deliberately lie, it had to have been totally ignorant of the true state of the project for which it was raking in mega-bucks.  The blurring of the lines between “marketing” and truthful corporate governance in Boeing comes from the same genre of dishonesty that pervaded the US finance sector in advance of the subprime crisis.

Albaugh was speaking in Riyadh in advance of a financial analysts briefing that Boeing is scheduled to give on Thursday Australian time.  In recent weeks the company has been slipping out references to a very different and disturbing state of affairs in the 787 program than it has until now been prepared to recognise.

But at least Boeing is beginning to face the music. Qantas isn’t. The airline has refused to come to grips with the issues with a program that has the FAIL word written all over it since late 2008.

It is a jet design that is still claimed by Boeing to be lighter, stronger, cheaper and further flying than any competing medium-sized wide-bodied airliner.

Yet through a process of grudging discovery and disclosure, it is also overweight, wringing wet from retained humidity, and dependent on unforeseen and extensive use of metal components to address the certification standards of airliners that must deal with lightning strikes and the cyclical stresses of pressurisation and depressurisation in regular airline service.

The inability of Qantas to realistically assess the progress and technical issues of the 787 have left it trapped with a dysfunctional fleet of ageing 747s and 767s, and in the case of the former, with a loss of control over the standards of engine maintenance being performed by Rolls-Royce, which is a separate issue affecting not just the jumbo jets but the its new Rolls-Royce powered A380 flagships.

Qantas has nowhere to go to deal with its fleet problems, other than buy the Boeing 777s it has resolutely refused to consider while its major competitors use that same jet, sometimes in conjunction with A330s and A380s, to expand at its expense.  Virgin Blue is using 777s and A330s, as is Cathay Pacific to help themselves to Qantas market share.  And Singapore Airlines and Emirates are using  777s, A330s and A380s to even larger effect.

The real warning for businesses at large is Boeing more than Qantas. As well as bungling its Dreamliners, it has a 747 development program, for the also delayed 747-800 freighter and passenger airliner, in which it is trying to tame structural flutter in the wing-fuselage area ,which had been outsourced to a Russian design shop. Boeing’s major earner, the 737, is under siege from the Airbus A320 line, which is being fitted with new technology engines too wide to fit under the wing of the single-aisle Boeing.

Boeing is being dragged down by a culture that embraced hype and outsourcing over technical excellence and innovation.  The current management is incapable of delivering new airliner projects.  It has to go.