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.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
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.
Boeing on Tuesday morning officially delivered the first 787 since aviation authorities around the globe grounded the model nearly four months ago. Plans call for Dreamliner Line Number 83—an All Nippon Airways airplane—to take off from Boeing’s Everett, Washington, production site for Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon.
Continued weak demand for large passenger and freighter airplanes has convinced Boeing to slow production of its 747-8 from a rate of two airplanes per month to 1.75.
The company expects to deliver the first airplane built at the new rate early next year. It said it doesn’t expect to move to result in a “significant” financial impact.
Nordam announced that Phil Marshall joined the company as vice president and general manager for the interiors and structures division. Marshall’s most recent positions include vice president of production operations for United Launch Alliance, and general manager for Boeing facilities in Decatur, Ala. and Pueblo, Colo. His previous positions have included responsibility for industrial engineering, manufacture, assembly, testing and product support of space-launch vehicle components and commercial aircraft parts.
Boeing Business Jets celebrated the 40th year of Boeing commercial sales in China and the delivery of the 1,000th Boeing airliner to the market, a 737-800 purchased by China Eastern Airlines, today at ABACE. Meanwhile, the company plans to deliver six green BBJs this year, four of which are destined for Asia and three of those are China bound. Seven BBJs will enter service this year, three in Asia, including one in China.