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 airline traffic increases outpace economic growth.
Will the aviation world ever be truly seamless? This was the question being asked at last week’s annual EASA/FAA conference, held here in Paris. The goal seems as far away as ever with the U.S. and Europe struggling to fund ambitious new ATM systems. However, it was not missed on panelists that it is the developing world that might lead the way, as they have no legacy systems or personnel issues to deal with.
The U.S. Navy’s next-generation maritime patrol jet, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, is months away from starting its first operational deployment, which will hasten the retirement of the venerable P-3C Orion turboprop.
GE Aviation, best known for its civil and military jet engines and integrated aircraft systems, plans to establish itself as a Tier 1 aerostructures supplier by the second half of the next decade. Ultimately, the company has a long-term vision to develop integrated propulsion systems (IPS) for future single-aisle airliners and regional aircraft, bringing together GE Aviation’s aerostructures capabilities in advanced wing and flying-control surface design with its turboprop engine and propeller activities in other divisions.
Norwegian Air Shuttle officials say that the airline’s adoption of the Teledyne Controls enhanced airborne data loader (eADL) for updating the navigation databases of its 42 Boeing 737s is saving it approximately $11,700 per month.
The oft-critiqued Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) program appears finally to have found its stride following a series of development delays and struggles with performance shortcomings. Needing to adjust to soft demand in the very-large widebody market, however, Boeing (Chalets A324 and B321) recently cut 747-8 production rates from two to 1.75 per month and its 20-year projection for the large widebody market segment by 4 percent, leading to inevitable questions about the long-term viability of the latest iteration of the Queen of the Skies.
Airbus Military believes that teething problems with its multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) business are now behind it, and that it’s set to grow over the coming year. With the A330 MRTT the company has the only new-generation tanker/transport flying, and hopes to secure new customers while continuing to deliver aircraft to its existing four operators, who will have received 17 aircraft by the end of 2013.
To automobile mass-producers, automation in the aerospace manufacturing probably looks fundamentally immature. However, Boeing’s efforts in introducing robotics into 777 production at its widebody plant in Everett, Washington, 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 lean production processes.
Boeing has finished modifying the lithium-ion battery systems on all 50 of its 787 Dreamliners in the field and all the airplanes’ operators have re-launched service.
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.