The production system that promises to support a reduction in final assembly times for the Boeing 737 from 10 to 9 days this year should become still more efficient with the introduction of a new automated panel assembly line (PAL) by early 2015. Built by Mukilteo, Washington-based Electroimpact, the PAL fastens stringers to wing skin panels at twice the rate Boeing now can manage using the current process at the 737 plant in Renton, Washington.
News and issues concerning aerospace companies, including formations, acquisitions, mergers and financials; and announcements of significant aircraft sales, delivery statistics and personnel appointments.
The successful consolidation of key parts of Russia’s aerospace industry into the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is more evident at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow then at any time since the group’s formation back in February 2006.
Northern Ireland-based Denroy Plastics (Hall 1 Stand B16) has won a new contract to supply plastic components to the multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon program. The undisclosed contract adds further components to the ones already supplied by the company, which now provides 180 separate parts for the Typhoon. The contract announcement was accompanied by a visit from RAF Typhoon pilots to Denroy’s Balloo Road plant in Bangor.
Crane Aerospace & Electronics has received a pair of new contracts to supply power conversion products. In the first of two deals announced here on the first day of the Farnborough International Airshow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) signed with Crane to use Interpoint power converters for the Mars 2020 mission. The California-based company plans to use a variety of space dc-dc converters and filters including Crane’s SMRT product, which features a built-in EMI filter, independent outputs and adjustable output voltage.
The Red Arrows teamed up with four of their European counterparts for this unique formation, flown last Friday over the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford. Britain’s finest are celebrating the Red Arrows’ 50th anniversary this year. They were joined over the Cotswold countryside by the leaders of four other teams appearing at RIAT: the Breitling Jet Team (L-39 Albatros); Frecce Tricolore (MB-339); Patrouille de France (Alpha Jet); and Patrouille Suisse (F-5E).
The technology stakes are high for the GE9X engine that will power Boeing’s new 777X twinjet, but GE Aviation believes its big bet on the weight savings to be delivered by unprecedented use of composites is about to pay off. The U.S. engine maker, which currently holds orders for some 600 of the engines, is leaving nothing to chance and, with more than two years of technology maturation behind it, the company is now stepping up its test program en route to certification in 2018.
Prospects for the much-anticipated launch of the Airbus A330neo appeared to be strengthening on the eve of the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow. While the European airframer was officially remaining tight-lipped on plans for the re-engined model, this has done little to dispel Reuters and Bloomberg reports of a launch announcement this week, citing sources close to the program. In particular, Hawaiian Airlines confirmed that it is actively considering the A330neo as a possible alternative to the A350-800.
The British government has sought to exclude Russian officials from this year’s Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) by refusing to issue its usual special invitations for the country’s official delegation. According to the Russian embassy in London, some Russian business visitors have been denied UK visas, preventing them from traveling to this week’s show.
The UK’s new military air safety regime has contributed to the delayed entry into British service of some new platforms, such as the Airbus A330MRTT Voyager tanker, the Thales Watchkeeper UAS and the L-3 Integrated Systems Airseeker (the UK version of the USAF’s RC-135 Rivet Joint SIGINT aircraft). As a result, some UK aerospace industry managers have expressed dissatisfaction with the Military Aviation Authority (MAA), in off-the-record comments to this editor and others.
Airbus A350-1000 manufacturing is under way, with Airbus reporting last month the laying up of the first carbon fiber elements, to be followed in the coming weeks by the first cutting of metal parts, according to program executive vice president Didier Evrard. Establishment of systems-installation design maturity is said to be “on plan,” while work continues on the variant’s structural design phase, which will permit the start of engineering drawing. Structural design maturity “incorporating all requirements” also was completed by mid-June.