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.
Boeing sees little chance that it will have to cut production of the 777 during the transition to the 777X, notwithstanding recent conjecture from analysts that a so-called sales “drought” since the launch of the program during last year’s Dubai Air Show could portend a period of market weakness–and a possibility that it won’t find enough orders to maintain its 8.3-per-month rate into 2020.
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.
Analysts expect established trends in predicted long-term jetliner requirements to continue, with little change to the market breakdown by aircraft size, according to the latest Boeing 20-year forecast statistics, unveiled in London on July 10.
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.
As Airbus A350XWB (Xtra widebody) customers freeze aircraft interior configuration plans, the European manufacturer hopes to limit cabin furnishing options for the new twin-aisle twinjet in order to keep final-assembly lines flowing as it accelerates production rates during a steep industrial ramp-up.
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.
Australian officials have once again amended the search area for the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 missing since March 8. “Specialists have analyzed satellite communications information–information that was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft–and performed extremely complex calculations,” said Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss. “The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with a satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area farther south along the arc based on these calculations.”
Boeing is targeting the third quarter for the maiden flight of a 767-2C “provisioned freighter” that will become one of the first U.S. Air Force KC-46A aerial refueling tankers. The company acknowledged encountering what it described as typical issues in the tanker’s development, and that it slipped an internal goal to fly the aircraft for the first time in June.