Exelis (Chalet C4A) has received processor qualification designation from Boeing for its composite design and manufacturing center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The qualification, achieved after a technical review against six Boeing specifications (BAC5578 and BAC5317-1 through -5), designates Exelis as an approved supplier of advanced, composite-structures to the Boeing supply chain.
Economy of the United States
Boeing Commercial Airplanes has finally reached a period of stability after several years of struggle with the 787 Dreamliner and a three-year period in which it executed 15 production-rate increases across its product line, according to senior v-p and general manager of airplane programs Pat Shanahan.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is introducing new helicopter safety technology that allows flight in degraded visual environments. The program is an example of how the group is diversifying its activities to achieve a more balanced portfolio between civil and defense markets. Another example is its new TaxiBot system for more fuel-efficient airliner taxiing, which has just completed certification testing at Germany’s Frankfurt International Airport.
Boeing’s slow-selling 747-8 hasn’t struggled to gain market penetration for a lack of effort on the part of the company’s sales team, or, as program head Eric Lindblad would attest, a lack of ongoing performance improvements or technological innovation. In fact, today’s 747-8 weighs some 9,000 pounds less than the first example Boeing placed into service in 2011 and 2,000 pounds less than airplanes it delivered around a year ago. With further work, the company expects the weight to eventually drop by more than 10,000 pounds.
Lessons learned from early missteps associated with the Boeing Dreamliner’s production system have helped cut unit costs on the 787-8 by some 15 percent over the past year and generate a 10-percent flow reduction since December, according to Boeing 787 vice president and deputy general manager Kim Pastega. Now building eight airplanes a month at is main plant in Everett, Washington, and two at its new factory in Charleston, South Carolina, Boeing has also seen a unit cost improvement of 30 percent in the recently certified 787-9 over the first six airplanes built.
Containing risk represents one of the hallmarks of Boeing’s proven approach to the 777 program, and its agreements last month with five key Japanese partners to perform major work on the 777X didn’t deviate far from historic form. But while the consortium of Japanese companies known as Japan Aircraft Industries won responsibility for essentially the same portion of the 777X airframe–21 percent–that it carries on the current version of the 777, Boeing didn’t necessarily exhibit a light touch in its negotiations with the group of long-time structural suppliers.
Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems have dispatched a team of experts to the site of a July 3 train derailment in Montana to assess the damage to six 737 fuselages, three of which slid down an embankment and into the Clark Fork River. Of the 19 cars that derailed near Rivulet, Montana, several also contained assembles for the 777 and 747.
Resistant to grounding their Boeing 787-8s for a even a short time, several operators have indefinitely deferred addressing fixes to some of the airplanes’ last remaining glitches, presenting the manufacturer with an “issue” as it marches toward its target dispatch reliability rate of 99.6 percent.
The production system that promises to support a reduction in final assembly times for the Boeing 737 from 10 to nine 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. Electroimpact designed the machine to “normalize” to the panel with an array of lasers that “see” the surface without touching it, allowing it to follow the panel curvature or contour. The process improves accuracy, consistency and “repeatability,” according to Boeing.
The aviation industry will see as many as 1,000 airplanes exit commercial fleets each year within the next decade as a combination of demographics conspire to create a retirement “tsunami,” IFC International principal Richard Brown told delegates attending the June 15 to 17 Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.