Recent remarks by Boeing CEO Jim McNerney about creating a so-called no-fly list of suppliers who fail to meet certain standards for quality, speed of delivery and cost has turned a spotlight on the company’s four supply chain management heads, all tasked with implementing the boss’s decree within their respective areas of responsibility and keeping vigil for “divide and conquer” tactics sometimes employed by program partners.
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A switch from composite to titanium inner wall of the thrust reversers on the Boeing 737 Max has allowed designers to increase the fan diameter in the airplane’s CFM Leap-1B turbofans without a proportional increase in the size of the nacelle.
Boeing has left little doubt that it harbors bigger plans for its new plant in Charleston, South Carolina, where by the end of this year it expects to deliver three Dreamliners a month.
Boeing’s projection for more than 35,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years suggests a doubling of the size of today’s airliner fleet and a continuing trend in which increases in airline traffic outpace economic growth. The outlook appears to reflect a growing confidence in the fidelity of the positive market indicators the company cited in its 2012 forecast, prompting the company to increase its projection for total airplanes by more than 1,000 units and value by some 7 percent.
Automation in the aerospace industry remains fundamentally immature, and Boeing’s efforts in introducing robotics into 777 production might look like baby steps to the world’s automobile makers. But at Boeing’s widebody plant in Everett, Washington, those steps have translated into some considerable efficiency gains following the company’s transition some eight years ago to a moving, U-shaped assembly line and simultaneous implementation of so-called lean production processes.
With airliner order backlogs at Airbus and Boeing running to five or six years, the problem of keeping the complex global supply chain on track and in sequence is, some might say, a nice problem to have. But a problem it is, nonetheless, because while it suits the world’s dominant airframers to keep cash-yielding deliveries flowing quickly, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it suits suppliers equally well to ramp up output rates with the investment spikes this requires.
Boeing will seek two separate certifications from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its new KC-46A tanker, the commercial 767 derivative it is developing for the U.S. Air Force (USAF). The manufacturer will first apply for an amended type certificate from the FAA for a 767-2C “provisioned freighter” without the aerial refueling components and military avionics planned for the tanker. It will then seek a supplemental type certificate (STC) for a fully equipped KC-46A.
Aircraft completion company Greenpoint Technologies (Booth 1027) has unveiled at EBACE a one-twentieth-scale version of a 747-8 featuring a VVIP interior displaying the company’s signature design capabilities. The scale model’s interior appointments include Greenpoint’s Aeroloft, which provides additional passenger rest space above the main cabin, and the Aerolift, an elevator that allows secure access into the aircraft from the ground.
Here at EBACE, Bordeaux, France-based Otonomy Aviation has announced a recent order for its Parabellum security system and CamHD high-definition camera system for an undisclosed Boeing 747-8 VVIP completion. This latest order brings to 25 the number of completions on which Otonomy (Booth 1826) has installed its security systems and high-definition cameras. “This is a great accomplishment for Otonomy Aviation,” said company CEO Guillaume Daudon.
Asked if business at MRO and completion and refurbishment company Amac Aerospace is good, the response from COO Bernd Schramm was simple: “We can’t complain.” It was also a classic understatement, describing business at a company that saw a 2012 net sales increase of about 30 percent over 2011.