787 suppliers in Japan operating smoothly

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The big three Boeing 787 suppliers in Japan are unaffected by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, with all reporting normal production operations.

Japanese aerospace companies are responsible for 35% of the structural weight of the 787, including the wings, centre wing box, main landing gear wheel well, and forward fuselage barrel.

Japan's three first tier aerospace firms Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Fuji Heavy Industries all have major roles in the 787 programme. All three have production facilities in Nagoya, as do the subcontractors who supply to them. Nagoya is located on the main Japanese island of Honshu several hundred miles from the quake's epicentre. The city was largely unaffected by the disaster, and some airlines, such as Lufthansa, have even diverted flights to Nagoya's Chubu Centrair airport. The airport also supports 747 Dreamlifter structural deliveries to Boeing's Everett, Washington and Charleston, South Carolina facilities. According to its website it was undamaged by the quake.

Fuji integrates the Section 11 centre wingbox and Section 45 landing gear wheel well; Kawasaki fabricates the Section 43 forward fuselage barrel and wheel well pressure deck, and Mitsubishi produces the aircraft's wings.

Fuji says its Nagoya-based 787 facility was unaffected by the quake and subsequent power cuts. Its Utsonomiya components factory, however, is located closer to the disaster area. It was undamaged, but continues to suffer periodic, scheduled power cuts stemming from damaged nuclear reactors in the disaster zone. The power cuts, says a company spokeswoman, last up to six hours a day.

Kawaski's Nagoya facility was also unaffected by the disaster and has suffered no power cuts. What's more, most of its suppliers are located in Nagoya. "The disaster has had no major impact on our supply chain," says a company spokesman.

Mitsubishi's Nagoya factory was also untouched. "As far as I know our major suppliers are not affected," says a spokesman. "We can't follow up on everything, but we're facing no major production problems."

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Boeing's 787 programme chief Scott Fancher said there was "no major disruption" to suppliers following the quake and tsunami.

Additionally, Fancher said all staff had been accounted for and the company's 787 Production Integration Centre in Everett, Washington had been monitoring the situation in Japan from the moment the disaster first occurred. Fancher adds he was notified by email within minutes of the quake.