Boeing Automates 777X line
According to news reports, Boeing is looking at new methods for automating the 777X line. The goal is to reduce labor and speed production.
The Seattle Times (8/14, Gates) reports that “Inside a boat warehouse in Anacortes, Boeing is quietly setting up tests of new advanced automation methods for building its soon-to-be-launched 777X jet.” The article also reports that there is both a detailed plan to keep production in the company’s Everett facility along with an option to build sections in Japan. “The hush-hush project reveals Boeing intends to dramatically change the way the plane’s metal hull is built, reducing manual labor on that task while ramping up the overall production rate.” According to the article, Boeing is expected to formally launch the 777X program this fall. In turn, this will trigger a development program employing “thousands of engineers in Everett….More than 3,000 Boeing employees now work directly on the 777 or support its production."
According to KING 5 News (8/15) “The company has not determined where it will build the new 777X yet. Major airlines have already expressed eager interest in buying it.”
In related news, GE announced testing composite fan blades on its GE9x, in a press release dated August 21, 2013. “GE Aviation has begun testing on its new composite fan blades for the GE9X, the next-generation GE90 engine that will power Boeing's 777X aircraft. This validation test is the first of several testing programs GE has planned this year for the GE9X fan module…."The GE9X fan blade will feature new high-strength carbon fiber material and a steel alloy leading edge," said Bill Millhaem, general manager of the GE90 Program at GE Aviation. "This new material, along with a higher fan tip speed, will improve the efficiency of the low-pressure turbine (LPT) and deliver more than 1.5% fuel efficiency improvement compared to the GE90-115B engine." “