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.
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.
As Boeing designers work toward firm configuration of the new 737 MAX narrowbody airliner next year, improvements to the current 737 family continue apace, while program v-p and general manager Beverly Wyse oversees preparations for the next production rate break.
Boeing has achieved a production rate of 35 Next-Generation 737s a month at its factory in Renton, Wash., the company announced today.
Boeing has hung a proverbial carrot in front of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) by promising to build the new 737 MAX in Renton, Wash., in return for approval of an early contract extension for hourly employees in Washington, Oregon and Kansas.