Alenia Composite to acquire second 787 autoclave

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Alenia Composite is acquiring a second autoclave to mitigate the risk of disruption to its one-piece fuselage barrel production for the Boeing 787 programme.

The manufacturer's Grottaglie facility uses what is thought to be the world's largest autoclave - measuring 22m (72ft) long and 9m wide - to cure fuselage sections 44 and 46 for the 787.

Although the existing autoclave has sufficient capacity to cure two fuselage barrels a day, meeting current and future rates, Alenia Composite chief operating officer Maurizio Rosini says negotiations are under way for a second machine that will safeguard the critical path in its production process.

He says: "At the moment we don't need a second one, but our policy is to buy it because we need it to mitigate risk and be sure of zero problems on our production work flow."

It will be a couple of years before the second autoclave is installed, says Rosini, owing to long lead times for the equipment.

Alenia is also installing a fourth auto fibre placement machine. This device is uses to apply raw composite material to 787 fuselage mandrels ahead of the curing process.