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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Aerospace Notebook: Advances work to 787's advantage



With all its cutting-edge technology and an airframe made almost entirely of composites, one feature on The Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner will be especially appealing to passengers who don't much care for bumpy airplane rides.

Because of advances in computer processing since Boeing developed the 777 in the early 1990s, the 787 will be much more steady in flight.

"It will ride better in turbulence," said Walt Gillette, vice president of engineering and manufacturing for the 787 program.

Studies have found that during moderate to severe turbulence, about 5 percent of passengers can become air sick because of the up and down and side to side motion of the plane. Boeing believes the ride-enhancement qualities that will be used on the 787 will reduce that to about 2 percent.

Computers will make extremely rapid changes in the 787's flight controls to better adapt to turbulence and dampen out motions.

"If we had had this kind of processing technology 15 years ago, we would have done it on the 777," Gillette said.

The 777 does have some ride-improvement features, but nothing like those that will be used on the 787.

Gillette recently spoke about some of the other changes that passengers can expect when the 787 enters airline service in 2008. After nearly 40 years with Boeing, Gillette is one of the company's most knowledgeable and respected aerodynamicists.

The 787 will have a composite fuselage -- the first for a large commercial jet transport.

There is a common misconception that a composite structure is more rigid than one made of aluminum, Gillette said.

"Composites are not rigid," he said.

But by design Boeing will make the 787 fuselage a little stiffer than it needs to be. This is because airlines wanted a thicker composite layer in some places on the fuselage to reduce ramp rash, the name given to the damage caused to jets when they are parked on the ground. Jets are frequently hit by sky bridges, baggage carts and trucks, and the repair bills for an aluminum plane can add up.

In addition to this thicker layer of composite material providing more stiffness, the increased pressure inside the fuselage of the 787 will make it more rigid, Gillette said. In order to improve passenger comfort -- and to take advantage of the extra strength of composite -- Boeing will have the 787 cabin pressurized for an altitude of about 6,000 feet.

Today's jetliner cabins are pressurized for about 8,000 feet. The lower cabin altitude means greater pressure inside the fuselage. The difference will be noticeable to passengers after a long flight, according to Boeing.

"This is good," Gillette said of the stiffer 787 fuselage. "A stiffer fuselage moves less, and that gives the vertical tail more chance to keep the plane steady."

The 787's wings will also be composite. Passengers seated next to the large windows on the 787 will notice those wings bent upward in flight more than they would be on the 777, Gillette said.

The 777 is a much larger plane. But because composites are stronger than aluminum, Boeing is giving the 787 the same wingspan as that of the 777-200, but with about 20 percent less surface area. As a result, the wing will flex more during flight.

Boeing hopes to have a large model of the 787 with its wings bent upward for display at the Paris Air Show in June.

"We want to show the airplane the way it looks in flight," Gillette said, although he stressed that it is still too early in the planning stage to know if the model will be ready by the air show

The upturned wings aren't the only distinctive design element of Boeing's new jet.

Early on, the 787, then known as the 7E7, was shown in computer images with a distinctive design that included a sharklike tail, long nose and the more narrow wings.

Boeing wanted its new jet to be instantly recognized in the same way that the 747 is because of that hump just behind the cockpit. And the 787 did look different, and ultrasleek, as if it were a shark or porpoise gliding through the sky.

But Boeing also warned that the shape could change as the final design was refined by engineers.

And it has.

Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said the outside design lines of the plane have been frozen. The nose and wings look pretty much as the previous images showed, he said. But the 787 has a more conventional looking tail.

"It's a really good-looking airplane," Bair said.

Boeing is expected to soon release the first computer images of what the 787 will really look like.

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Orders fly in for Boeing 787

By Dominic Gates

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Air India to purchase 50 new Boeing jets

Boeing executives are predicting a blowout quarter for 787 sales that will seal the success of the Everett-assembled jet and leave a proposed rival from Airbus in its dust.

A big order was unveiled by Air India today, on the heels of one announced yesterday by Air Canada.

According to an internal Boeing document obtained by The Seattle Times, executives project in the next two months 177 firm orders for the 787, worth $23 billion at list prices.

The pace is a sharp reversal from late last year, when Boeing was embarrassed by failing to hit its announced target of 200 orders for the new, advanced-technology jetliner.

Boeing's 787 sales efforts stalled badly last year after Airbus announced plans for the rival A350, and airlines paused to consider it. Now, though, the market is swinging in Boeing's direction.

The company secured in quick succession important order wins for the 787 from Korean Air Lines and then Northwest Airlines — both Airbus A330 customers that might have been expected to go with Airbus' A350, planned as an A330.

Yesterday, Air Canada announced for Boeing, too. It will take 14 787s, with options to purchase 46 more later. The order also included 18 777s, plus options on 18 more of those larger wide-bodies.

The total firm order is worth about $6 billion at list prices, although discounts of at least 30 percent are standard.

For Airbus, "it's a brutal series of defeats," said industry analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. "The market might be trying to tell Airbus something."

Henri Courpron, president and chief executive of Airbus North America — who negotiated on the failed Air Canada and Northwest campaigns (the latter not yet officially announced) — said the A350 is far from finished, though to date it has won nothing more than a commitment from Spanish carrier Air Europa to order 10 of the jets.

But he admitted Boeing is currently in the ascendant in sales.

"We can't win them all," said Courpron. "If this year Boeing wins more market share than us, all power to them. Maybe it's their turn this year."

India too

This morning Air India announced a $6 billion order that includes 27 787s.

Late yesterday, Boeing executives were waiting to hear news from Mumbai, where the board of the national flag carrier was expected to approve an order for about 20 787s and a further 15 777s.

A Boeing document prepared a month ago for 787 program chief Mike Bair illustrates the remarkable acceleration in orders for the new, all-composite plane.

Boeing won only four firm orders for the new jet, formerly called the 7E7, in the last quarter of 2004. It won eight more in the first quarter of this year to reach a total of 64 firm orders.

But by the time the current quarter ends June 30, according to the document, Boeing expects to have 241 firm orders.

Boeing can reach that total only if it signs firm contracts for all of the previously announced orders and also adds 24 more from sales campaigns where it has not yet publicly declared victory.

Achievable goal

While firming up every single announced contract in two months won't be easy, Boeing 787 spokeswoman Yvonne Leach wasn't daunted by the thought of adding soon a couple dozen more new orders.

"That's doable," she said.

When the 787 formally launched, "Airbus was saying that the 787 was not a real airplane," said Leach. "A year later, customers are voting."

Currently the 787, due to enter service in 2008, has a two-year head start on the A350.

But analyst Aboulafia said market rejection of the A350 could force Airbus to scrap the plan to design it as a derivative of the A330, and incur the extra cost and delay of developing an all-new jet to compete with the 787.

"This could mean the end of the A350," Aboulafia said. "That means Boeing would have a five-year clean shot at the market."

Airbus' Courpron left open all options, including looking at a new plane.

"We adjust our plans all the time," he said.

However, he stuck to the company's previous projection that it would have 50 Airbus A350 orders by the Paris Air Show in June, and 100 by year-end.

He attributed the Air Canada loss to aggressive pricing by Boeing and what he characterized as a conservative decision by the airline to go with the smaller jet. The 787 had about 30 fewer seats in the airline's configuration than had the A350.

Courpron described that as a misjudgment based on today's traffic levels and pinched airline environment.

Boeing's Leach saw it instead as a confirmation of Boeing's philosophy of designing smaller, long-range airliners for a future global air network that will favor point-to-point routes.

Air Canada routes

Backing that up, Air Canada said in a statement that it chose the 787 and the 777 for its planned daily non-stop services that will fly Toronto to Beijing and Toronto to Shanghai in 2006, and Vancouver, B.C. to Guangzhou, China, service in 2007.

Boeing executives expect 787 sales momentum to slow after this quarter's surge.

The largest pending 787 sales campaign isn't expected to be sealed this year.

Qatar Airways is discussing an order for about 60 jets but is interested in the stretch version of the jet — due to enter service two years after the first models.

Nonetheless, at the end of 2005, Boeing's new jet program is projected to have 241 firm airplane orders, leaving the Airbus A350 sitting on the runway.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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New Boeing will have a folding tail and its nose will be made in Russia

05/19/2005 13:06

A new passenger airplane Boeing 787 Dreamliner whose design still awaits completion has been presentated in Moscow

Boeing is planning to complete designing the Boeing 787 next year and begin the delivery of the airplane to customers in 2008.

About 20 American and foreign airlines have already signed agreements with Boeing for the purchase of nearly 200 787s.

Sergei Kravchenko, Boeing's president for Russia and CIS, said that the company decided to put Russia on "a very short" list of the cities for launching presentations of the Boeing 787.

The company took into consideration a significant contribution of Russian institutions to the development of the airplane. Boeing's largest overseas engineering center is based in Moscow. It employs about 1,000 Russian engineers.

Around 300 Russian engineers were involved in the design of the new airplane's components including nose fuselage section, leading edges, and pylons for mounting engines.

Another team consisting of about 200 Russian engineers is working on a special cargo version of the Boeing 747 which will be part of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner production line. The 747 jumbo jet is the largest commercial airplane in the world.

Boeing developers intend to equip the cargo airplane with a removable tail so that it may be slid back while loading entire fuselage sections and wings of the 787 into the cargo compartment.

The giant cargo plane has been dubbed 747 LFC (large freight carrier). Aircraft designers in the USA, Russia and several other countries are working on technical implementation of the project.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner should be 20% more economical in terms of operational performance than the existing airplanes of the same type.

The airplane should also ensure improved safety and provide a more comfortable cabin environment to the passengers. Boeing regards the new airplane as a substitute to the presently used 767s.

That is why a market price of the 787 is in the neighborhood of $120 million a piece. The price equals that of a new 767.

Read the original in Russian: (Translated by: Guerman Grachev)

L1999-2002 "PRAVDA.Ru". When reproducing our materials in whole or in part, reference to PRAVDA.Ru should be made. The opinions and views of the authors do not always coinside with the point of view of PRAVDA.Ru's editors

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ATW Daily News

Electrics not yet right for hydraulic system replacement

Friday May 20, 2005

While Boeing's 787 does away with pneumatic bleed air as a power source for many aircraft functions, the technology of electromechanical actuation has not advanced sufficiently to take the place of hydraulic power on transport aircraft.This was the conclusion of several system experts speaking on ATW's "More Electric Aircraft" webcast earlier this week.

Farhad Nozari, technical fellow-electrical systems engineering at Boeing, said the company did a system analysis of hydraulics when designing the 787 and found that current electrics technology could operate systems such as flight controls, landing gear actuation and thrust reversers but that on a systems reliability basis, "hydraulics came out to be better [than electrics] by some margin."

Bob Smith, VP-strategic technologies, Honeywell Engines Systems & Services, added, "We have got to address some fundamental problems with electromechanical actuation," such as understanding "how we do a fail-safe so you don't get an actuator stuck in the wrong position."

However, all three panelists on the webcast were confident that with the continued advancement of electric technology, as Nozari said, "hydraulics are likely to be replaced by electrics as well." To view the archived webcast, go to

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Thanks DL. cool.gif

Here's another good article. Enjoy!

Inside Boeing Co.'s (BA ) cavernous development center in Seattle, the future of its commercial jet business is taking shape. That future is plastic -- and lots of it. At center stage in the tightly guarded building are three huge fuselage sections, dubbed barrels, made entirely of composites known as carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. Engineers swarm over the structures, looking for imperfections that could weaken the wafer-thin yet granite-tough material. Over in one corner, mechanics are sculpting the world's biggest composite aircraft wing.

Nothing on this scale has ever been attempted with composites, which are used in everything from golf-club shafts and tennis rackets to giant underground storage tanks. But even the latter can't measure up to what Boeing is creating -- namely, the entire airframe of its upcoming 787 Dreamliner jet.

Boeing knows this is a gutsy, bet-the-company move. But after falling behind archrival Airbus in sales over the last four years, executives felt they had to come up with game-changing technology that would captivate financially strapped airlines.

So far the strategy looks like a winner. Boeing is heading into the Paris Air Show in June with 266 orders and commitments for the Dreamliner from 21 customers. That makes the 787 one of the fastest-selling commercial jets in history. And the plane is already playing a key role in a remarkable reversal of fortune between Boeing and Airbus.


The reason the 787 is selling so well is simple: Customers get tremendous bang for their bucks. For $120 million -- about what they paid for the comparable Boeing 767-300 back in the 1980s -- airlines get an all-new aircraft that flies faster than the competition and costs substantially less to operate. That's compelling at a time when fuel prices are high and airlines are just emerging from the worst industry recession ever. Combined with more fuel-efficient engines, composite materials are "changing the paradigm of the industry, which was based on aluminum," says James C. Seferis, a materials professor at the University of Washington who has consulted for Boeing.

One big plus: Jets made of composites require far fewer parts, so there's less to bolt together. And since these plastics weigh less than aluminum, the planes should burn less fuel. Boeing says the Dreamliner will also improve passenger comfort. Why? The superior strength of the composite fuselage will allow the passenger cabin to withstand higher pressurization -- equal to the air pressure at an altitude of 6,000 feet instead of the usual 8,000 feet. So it's easier to control cabin temperature, humidity, and ventilation.

As sales take off, Boeing must deliver on its promises. The big question is, can it mass-produce the composite fuselage and wing at a high rate and at targeted costs? In the six months since trial production began, there have been some sour notes, including a machining problem on the first barrel that put the program about a month behind schedule.


Boeing officials say they have made up for the lost time and insist that things are under control. "Can we build the 787 at production volumes?" says Michael B. Bair, vice-president of the 787 program. "That has always been the challenge, but we're confident."

Traditionally, making large composite structures has been a slow, manual process, and the quality of finished parts depended on the craftsmanship of experienced workers. Much of that must be automated for the 787. That initially left some of Boeing's global manufacturing partners and suppliers worrying about how to maintain quality, meet weight targets, and stay within original budget estimates of $6 billion to $8 billion. David Polland, Boeing's composites guru and lead engineer for the 787, concedes the design is still overweight but says that's typical for new aircraft at this stage of development. Meanwhile, he adds, the 787 team is making solid progress in developing efficient manufacturing methods.

Making carbon-fiber parts might be described as a massive wallpapering operation -- with the paper really being wide tape, loosely woven from superstrong carbon fibers, then soaked in a honey-thick mixture of polymers. The gooey tapes are plastered on the inside of molds or wrapped around shells called mandrels, and then baked. The heat triggers a chemical reaction that turns the polymers into a hard, incredibly sturdy structure.

The first bake-off of plastic barrels came last Thanksgiving, when the Dreamliner team produced the world's first one-piece fuselage section. It was 22 feet long and 19 feet in diameter and could be attached to other sections with almost no rivets. Now, Dreamliner engineers are discovering that their composites are even tougher than they initially imagined. So Boeing is able to guarantee customers that maintenance costs will be 30% lower than for aluminum planes.

The biggest savings will come on inspections. Because composite materials are more durable than aluminum, government regulators may call for fewer inspections. After just six years in service, a normal plane undergoes a meticulous and costly check for corrosion. The composite 787, in contrast, may remain in service for 12 years before its first structural test. By staying out of the shed, the Dreamliner can make up to 113 additional flights. "The corrosion and fatigue benefits are going to be astounding," says Bair. "It's probably a bigger story than the fuel [savings]," he adds, referring to the 20% drop in fuel costs the 787 can deliver compared with other planes.

While composites are used extensively in military and some small business jets, their incorporation into large commercial planes has been slower. Boeing's 777 is only 11% plastics, mostly in the tail section. But composites will make up 100% of the 787's skin and 50% of all the materials in the plane. "We have always wanted to design in composites," said Alan R. Mulally, Boeing's CEO for commercial airplanes and champion of the 787, at a May 17 investors' meeting. But only recently, he added, have material costs become competitive with aluminum.

Before Mulally could get his wish, another issue had to be solved. Execs fretted about ramp crashes -- service vehicles bumping into parked planes. Since carbon-based composites are normally very rigid, a hard hit from, say, a food-service truck could crack the plane's skin, not merely dent it. Even cracks too small to see could then spread under the stresses of high-speed flight and the dramatic changes in outside air pressure and temperature as a jet climbs to around 30,000 feet.

To prevent that, Toray Industries Inc., the Japanese supplier of Boeing's carbon-fiber tape, impregnates the fibers with a proprietary mixture: The epoxy that provides strength and hardness is surrounded by a polymer with a different density. This combination makes the surface less prone to impact damage -- and if damage does occur, it prevents cracks from spreading. Because of this breakthrough, "I will be sleeping soundly whenever I take off on a composite airplane," says Washington University professor Seferis.


On the manufacturing side, the benefits of plastic fuselage sections are undeniable. One metal barrel requires some 1,500 sheets of aluminum held together by nearly 50,000 rivets. With plastics, the number of fasteners drops by 80%. "The magic in cost reduction is fewer and simpler parts," Bair says.

The main challenge, on the other hand, is the sheer size of the 19-foot-diameter fuselage sections. These require multiple layers of carbon-fiber tape to assure structural integrity. But each added layer of tape increases the likelihood of variations or flaws, says Michael W. Hyer, an engineering professor and composites expert at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.

Last November, as the first barrel was baking in the autoclave oven, waiting engineers were clearly nervous. Sure enough, on close inspection, there were flaws -- bubbles on the skin. This so-called porosity could weaken the material and eventually cause cracks by allowing water to seep under the surface, then freeze up and expand at high altitudes. But nobody expected perfection on the first attempt, says Boeing's Polland. When barrel No. 3 was pulled from the oven, it had fewer defects.

And the wings? Bair says the program is moving ahead smoothly. He expects to lock up the Dreamliner's complete configuration later this year -- a key milestone that means engineers can begin working on final designs of parts and production tools.

Once the Dreamliner's barrels, wings, and other parts are ready, Boeing hopes to assemble each 787 in just three days, down from 11 days for the 737. "It takes time to choreograph the dance that happens in final assembly," says Bair. If three days proves to be a tad ambitious, he adds, "we'd be happy to get to four." Welcome to a bold new era for commercial aviation.

By Stanley Holmes

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Boeing Discusses Progress on 787 Dreamliner

LE BOURGET, France, June 13, 2005 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] during a briefing at the Paris Air Show reported strong progress on many aspects of the all-new 787 Dreamliner that make the airplane more appealing to passengers and airlines.

787 Vice President and General Manager Mike Bair highlighted the airplane's new air purification system, which will provide cleaner air during flights, as one advance passengers will truly appreciate.

"Passengers will notice a difference," Bair said. "They will feel more refreshed after their 787 flights. It may be difficult for passengers to recognize the differences between today's airplanes, but the 787 will be distinct. From its larger windows to its unique interior architecture, and from its lower cabin altitude to its cleaner air, passengers will enjoy their flights on a 787."

Bair also provided an update on the progress being made in the design and development of the new airplane.

"We've built four development composite barrel sections at this point and are entirely convinced that we have our manufacturing solutions in place," Bair said. Most recently the team in Wichita, Kan., built a nose section as part of the development effort.

In Everett, the 787 team is building part of a full-scale wing box to demonstrate the manufacturing techniques and support certification of the new airplane.

"It is a true testament to the team that we have created and proven these techniques in so short a period of time and with truly outstanding results," Bair said.

He credited the innovative and integrated Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) toolset developed by Paris-based Dassault Systemes with providing a real competitive advantage.

"Our international team is better equipped to develop solutions, consider alternatives and make decisions thanks to our digital toolset," Bair said. "Even now, one year before we start building our first airplane and two years before it flies, we know that our designs are optimized and achievable."

Although the 787 has significantly more advances compared to previous airplanes, the team has reduced the development cycle by one year thanks in large part to the digital toolset, Bair said. He added that the market response to the 787 is "validation" that the team is getting it right.

"We have the right airplane at the right time," Bair said. "Its fuel efficiency, range, cargo capability and improved maintenance make it very attractive to airlines. The number of customers and their diversity in terms of geography and business models highlight the 787's ability to meet the different needs of different airlines.

"The team is humbled and motivated by the market response. We're working diligently to meet the expectations of our customers. They have put their trust in us and we will perform."

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This is more of an Add Question than Add Reply.

Born in a high-pressure oven called an autoclave, the [fuselage and the wings] made entirely of carbon-fibre composites.

Airbus has said Boeing is pushing composite technology too far in having an all-composite fuselage.

What percentage of the Airbus aircraft is composite? What kind of composite is it? I get the impression from the preceding articles that Boeing's composite is different somehow. Before anyone answers, my exposure to "composite" is at a level of repairing a fibreglass canoe... biggrin.gif

Execs fretted about ramp crashes -- service vehicles bumping into parked planes. Since carbon-based composites are normally very rigid, a hard hit from, say, a food-service truck could crack the plane's skin, not merely dent it. Even cracks too small to see could then spread under the stresses of high-speed flight and the dramatic changes in outside air pressure and temperature as a jet climbs to around 30,000 feet.

To prevent that, Toray Industries Inc., the Japanese supplier of Boeing's carbon-fibre tape, impregnates the fibres with a proprietary mixture: The epoxy that provides strength and hardness is surrounded by a polymer with a different density. This combination makes the surface less prone to impact damage -- and if damage does occur, it prevents cracks from spreading.

Are those here, more in the know than I, just as convinced?

BTW, thanks Lazionic. Its been great reading this thread over the past year or so. I so dearly hope that the 787 finished product meets the expectation of its creators and that we see a few flying with a C- registration. smile.gif

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My concern is not so much with the composite wings, at present almost all new aircraft have composite flaps and elevators as well as ailerons and such, heck the airbus vertical and horizontal stab is all composite, my concern with the wings is the interaction the fuel will have with the composite. We all know that once water starts to permeate the composite, it begins to delam. This is only during short periods of being subjected, i.e on ground during inclement weather or during climb out. In the wings, the composite will be constantly saturated, I am curious as to how Boeing will prevent delam.

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WICHITA, Kan., Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., today

rolled out the first developmental barrel section for the 787 Dreamliner built

in its Wichita, Kan., factory. The barrel, called Section 41, comprises the

airplane's forward section and is made of advanced composite materials. The

developmental section measures 19 feet in diameter and 24 feet long.

(Photo: )

The Wichita facility also has the design and manufacturing

responsibilities to provide the 787's pylons. The pylon holds the engine to

the airplane. The company's Tulsa facility will design and build the airplane

wing's leading edges.

"Today is a historic day for Spirit AeroSystems," Jeff Turner, President

and CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, told a gathering of hundreds of employees,

airplane partners and media at an on-site roll out ceremony.

"The 41 Section on display here today is the first major piece of airplane

hardware completed by Spirit AeroSystems. It also is a marvel of modern

technology and an example of industry-leading teamwork and innovation on

behalf of the employees of Spirit AeroSystems and our entire supply chain.

Because of the knowledge and skills of our excellent team, I am confident many

more modern marvels will follow."

A 787 production forward section is expected to be produced in Wichita

next year, complete with flight deck and systems installations. It will ship

in 2007 by a special, modified 747 cargo airplane to The Boeing Company's

plant in Everett, Wash., for final assembly.

Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., an Onex company, designs and builds part of

every Boeing commercial jetliner except the 717. It produces the entire

fuselage of the 737 as well as engine nacelles, struts and nose sections for

the 737, 747, 767 and 777 jetliners. Spirit AeroSystems also specializes in

designing and fabricating complex tooling for aircraft manufacturing and


It also designs and produces slats, flaps, forward leading edges and

trailing edges for 737 wings, slats and floor beams for the 777 airplane, and

wing and fuselage components for the 747. Additionally, Spirit AeroSystems has

design and manufacturing responsibilities for the forward section, engine

pylons and the fixed and moveable wing components for the 787 airplane. Onex

purchased the Wichita operation from The Boeing Company in June 2005.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Boeing unveils nose section of new 787



WICHITA, Kan. -- In the history of aviation, no one has ever made anything like it before.

About 24 feet long and 18 feet in diameter, it's a one-piece composite structure of a jetliner that, as one Boeing executive put it Thursday, "leads us through the skies."

In the jargon of the industry, it is simply called Section 41, the nose, cockpit and forward fuselage.

Only this one is for The Boeing Co.'s 787, the world's first jetliner with a composite fuselage and wing.

"It's beautiful," said Steven Carns, one of hundreds of workers who turned out for the official unveiling of the fuselage section at what used to be Boeing's commercial airplanes Wichita division.

Now, it is Spirit AeroSystems, the name the new owners gave the commercial business when they bought it from Boeing a few months ago. The sale was part of Boeing's broader corporate strategy to shed manufacturing work and focus on the design, integration and final assembly of its airplanes.

"Other companies like Cessna and Raytheon (both located in Wichita) are doing a lot of work with composites, but no one has ever done anything on this scale before," Carns said. "This is quite an accomplishment."

Carns was with Boeing in Wichita for 28 years. Now, his Spirit team is responsible for cutting costs and improving quality.

Boeing was only a participant Thursday.

But this Section 41 represents much more than just a corporate name change.

Unlike all other commercial jetliners, it is made not of aluminum but a composite plastic baked to hardness and perfection in a high-pressure oven known as an autoclave.

"It is always so wonderful to see in reality what has been in our mind's eye for so long. This is imagination become reality," said Boeing's Walt Gillette, vice president of 787 development, as he got his first look at the nose section during the unveiling before hundreds of Spirit workers, Boeing executives and many others who came from as far away as Moscow, where Boeing has a design center that is doing work on the 787 program.

As he walked up and touched the structure, Gillette beamed like a proud father looking at his newborn for the first time.

"Seeing the real article is absolute proof we have imagined the right future" with the 787, he said. "This machine is on its way."

One unique feature of the 787 nose section is the big cockpit windows.

All Boeing jetliners today have three cockpit windows on each side. The 787 has two windows per side, and they are about one and a half times as big as those on the 777.

And none of the cockpit windows open. Of the Boeing models flying today, only the 747 has cockpit windows that don't open. For emergency exit, a 787 the crew would leave through an overhead hatch, just as they would on the 747.

But no pilot will ever sit in this particular Section 41. The structure, with a high-degree of contour, was made only to test and prove manufacturing techniques required on the 787, the first commercial jetliner ever with a composite body and wings.

It will now be cut into pieces for testing, or "autopsied," as Gillette put it -- all part of the high learning curve for Boeing's first all-new jet since the 777.

The development and testing of these massive 787 composite fuselage sections in Wichita, as well as at Boeing's developmental center at Boeing Field in Seattle, are critical to the success of the new jetliner.

First flight of the Dreamliner should come in the summer of 2007, with delivery to the first customer, All Nippon Airways of Japan, in mid-2008.

The first production Section 41, which will come out of a new and bigger autoclave at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, is scheduled to be flown in a modified 747 to Boeing's Everett plant in April 2007 for final assembly of the first Dreamliner, said Jeff Turner, president and chief executive of Spirit, who previously was vice president and general manager of the Wichita Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Other composite fuselage sections, along with the wings, will arrive in Everett on those modified 747s from South Carolina, Italy and Japan.

The 787 program represents a revolution in jetliner manufacturing. The fuselage barrels are made from one large piece of carbon fiber. They are the largest such composite pressure vessels ever made.

Such a composite structure is significantly lighter and requires almost no maintenance, unlike aluminum.

The challenge for Boeing was not proving that a jetliner fuselage could be made from composites, but coming up with a manufacturing plan that would allow the fuselage sections to eventually be built efficiently and at the production rates needed on the 787 program.

The fuselage sections that eventually arrive in Everett will be "stuffed" by Boeing's suppliers. Electrical wiring and systems -- even the landing gear -- will be in place. Mechanics in Everett will need only to connect the sections and wings. This final assembly process should require only three days, according to Boeing.

Lessons being learned in Seattle helped make possible the Section 41 that took center stage here Thursday. The first 787 composite barrel, the aft fuselage section some 22 feet long, was rolled out at the developmental center in Seattle in early January. Three more have since been made there as Boeing and its partners, including Spirit, refine manufacturing methods.

Two more developmental nose sections will be made in Wichita for testing. The last will be some 43 feet long, about twice as long as the first Section 41. That's the length of the production nose sections that will eventually be flown to Everett when its finally time to assemble the 787.

Traditionally, machinists have to painstakingly hand make fuselage sections from many aluminum panels that are held together by tens of thousands of fasteners. The process is labor-intensive and costly.

That's why Boeing, according to company executives, has made its last all-new aluminum airplane.

"The future is composites," said Boeing's Mike Bair, head of the 787 program

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