Goodrich tools up for Boeing 787 nacelle work

Los Angeles
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By Guy Norris in Los Angeles

Goodrich is preparing to install new automated fibre placement machines in its dedicated 787 composite engine nacelle production site in Riverside, California in September as it readies itself for the jump to serial manufacturing.

Using similar machines at the US National Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Louisiana, the company has also begun building pre-production components for initial test. Goodrich has just delivered the first thrust reverser assemblies to both General Electric and Rolls-Royce for use in ground tests of the GEnx and Trent 1000 engines respectively, and is "about 30% delivered through more than 30 articles", says 787 product development vice-president Jeff Rogers.

"In September we will have our own machines, and we think we've got a plan synched up with the 787 production build-up," says Rogers, who adds that Goodrich is "comfortable" with its initial plan to use two Ingersoll machines. However, more machines are being considered to match Boeing's studies for further acceleration of the production rate to 12 a month or beyond.


© Goodrich 

 The first thrust reverser assemblies have just been delivered to GE and R-R

Rogers adds that whatever rate is decided "you have to multiply that by two, and then we have to see what is going to be GE or Rolls-Royce". The nacelles for the two engine variants are "virtually identical in terms of material types, construction and architecture, but the part numbers are different," he adds.

"It is an extremely aggressive ramp-up for the front edge of a programme, but our biggest concerns are the supply chain and raw materials." Goodrich gets most of its pre-preg composite materials from Hexcel and, to a lesser degree, Cytech. Another focus is on titanium, a special grade of which is required for the high temperature exhaust areas of the nacelle. Aside from the exhaust system and thrust reverser, Goodrich is also responsible for the fan and inlet cowls, the latter based on the "acoustically smooth" splice-less design first tested on Boeing's 777 Quiet Technology Demonstrator in 2005.

The first two nacelle systems for the initial flight-test 787 are scheduled to be delivered to Rolls-Royce in the first quarter of 2007.