Boeing spreads 777X design work to Charleston, Moscow, defence sites

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Boeing today announced that many of the component details for the 777X aircraft family will be designed by the company’s engineers located outside the Puget Sound region of Washington state.

Continuing a trend of distributing design work on new commercial aircraft, “much of the detailed design” on the 777X will be done at Boeing’s new factory in Charleston, South Carolina, and several sites normally associated with the company’s defence programmes, Boeing says.

The list of 777X design teams includes Boeing’s missile defence centre in Huntsville, Alabama, the soon-to-be-shuttered C-17 site in Long Beach, California, the cargo rotorcraft factory in Philadelphia and the fighter and weapons production complex in St. Louis, Missouri.

Russian engineers at the Boeing Design Center in Moscow also will participate in the 777X detailed design, Boeing says.

“A programme of this size requires that we bring together all of the talent that Boeing has to offer,” says Boeing executives Michael Delaney and Scott Fancher, in an email sent to employees today.

Delaney is Boeing’s vice-president for engineering of commercial aircraft and Fancher is vice-president and general manager of commercial aircraft development.

However, Boeing has not made final decisions on whether to design and build the 777X in Everett, Washington, where the company makes the 777-300ER and 777-200LR today.

The engineering workforce structure for the 777X keeps the design within Boeing. The company was haunted by its decision a decade ago to allow industrial partners to have design authority on major sections of the 787.

Although the design teams remain in-house, Boeing appears to be following and perhaps expanding the model established by the 747-8 and the 737 Max. Both programmes relied heavily on engineering staff outside of the Puget Sound area. The Moscow design centre heavily contributed to the design of the 747-8, while Boeing announced moving hundreds of engineering jobs on the 737 Max from Seattle to Charleston and Long Beach.

“The announced structure will allow for an efficient use of resources and enable Boeing to resolve design issues effectively the first time,” Delaney and Fancher wrote.

Boeing still must decide where to build the giant wing of the 777X and where to assemble the wing and the fuselage sections.