(Spirit Aerosystems photo)
Spirit Aerosystems celebrated Thursday as the first Boeing 737 Max fuselage rolled off the line in Wichita.
Now all that’s waiting for final assembly are a few details, such as engines and wings, which will be added later on Boeing’s new third Renton assembly line.
Employees at the Boeing supplier took a break for a celebration, and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attended, according to KSN TV.
The Wichita-built fuselage didn’t look much different than the fuselages the facility already builds for so called “Next Generation” 737s, which is the current model.
It also will arrive by rail, one of the silvery green fuselages that regularly roll through Seattle’s Interbay district, and then along the waterfront on their way to Renton. There, the aircraft will be assembled.
The 737 Max is the new re-engined version of Boeing's best-selling, and smallest, passenger jet. Primarily due to the new engines, it is to get 14 percent fuel mileage than the current model. Boeing so far has orders for 2,831 of the jets.
While the majority of the single-aisle 737 structure is the fuselage, Boeing has been making radical changes in preparation for assembling the wings.
On May 29, the company started assembling the first wing spars, which were to be built into wings with a new highly automated system.
The newest piece of automation is the “panel assembly line,” four large machines built by Electroimpact of Mukilteo, which automatically drill and fasten strengthening members, called stringers, on the aluminum wing skins.
The wings will eventually be attached to the first 737 Max test plane, No. 5,602 in the 737 series. The first wing won’t be done until September.
Boeing’s first 737 Max should roll out by the end of this year, and fly in 2016.
(Steve Wilhelm - Puget Sound Business Journal)