Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Boeing South Carolina Reports Smooth Transition to 787-10

The second 787-10 Dreamliner cycles through final assembly at Boeing's facility in North Charleston, S.C.
(Photo: Bill Carey)

The first three 787-10 Dreamliners that Boeing will use in its flight-test campaign and eventually deliver to airline customers are making their way through assembly and testing at the manufacturer’s North Charleston, S.C. facility. During a press tour of the facility on February 21, executives described a smooth transition from assembly of the 787-9 to the newest, longest version of the Dreamliner family.

“You would think any time you bring in a new derivative there would be chaos.” But the assembly process “didn’t skip a beat,” declared Jennifer Boland-Masterson, Boeing superintendent of mid-body operations. The transition from the 787-9 was “flawless,” she said.

Two days after its production workers decisively rejected joining the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Boeing rolled out the first assembled 787-10 on February 17 during a ceremony featuring President Donald Trump. That aircraft has advanced to the flight line for ground testing before the start of flight testing this spring—a campaign that will be based at Boeing’s facilities in Washington state rather than in South Carolina. Executives would not disclose the number of flight-test hours Boeing plans.

The second 787-10—marked as the 548th Dreamliner overall—had moved into the second position of Boeing’s seven-position final assembly building. The third was beginning to take shape with assembly of the aft body. The South Carolina facility fabricates and assembles composite Section 47, the last passenger section of the airplane, and Section 48, which integrates the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and the aft pressure bulkhead, for all Dreamliners built in Everett, Wash., and North Charleston. It also joins and integrates mid-body fuselage sections from other suppliers. Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, provides 787 forward fuselage sections to both Everett and North Charleston.

Boeing’s Everett operation currently produces seven 787-8/9s per month; North Charleston produces five. Assembly of the 787-10 will take place exclusively in South Carolina.

At 224 feet in length, the 787-10 is 18 feet longer than the 787-9 thanks to the extension of Section 47 by eight feet and a 10-foot longer Section 43, the mid-forward fuselage supplied by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The two versions have 95 percent design commonality; the landing gear and environmental cooling systems of the 787-10 are slightly different, said Darrel Larson, director of aft-body operations. The manufacturer initially considered but ruled out adding a tail skid because of the lengthened aft section, he recalled.

There were “no changes to any of the partners, components or facilities” used for the 787-9, Larson said. “I would say we learned a lot from the 787-9, both through the supply chain as well as in production.” Design commonality “was not only expected, but required,” he added.

Deliveries of the 787-10 are scheduled to begin in 2018, with Singapore Airlines serving as launch customer. Boeing reports receiving 149 orders thus far.

(Bill Carey - AINOnline News)

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