Vought to deliver first fully-stuffed 787 sections

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Vought Aircraft should deliver its first fully-stuffed composite section for the Boeing 787 widebody between June and September, a company spokeswoman tells FlightGlobal.com.

The event will mark a huge milestone in Vought’s attempt to come back from a supply chain meltdown that labelled the company as the highest-risk supplier on the 787 programme.

Boeing’s original deal with Vought required the Texas-based aerostructure specialist to design, certificate and build two “stuffed” composite barrels – sections 47/48 – that comprise the 787’s aft fuselage.

But Vought and other suppliers suffered a system-wide breakdown. Vought’s first composite barrels arrived at Boeing’s final assembly centre in Everett, Washington, with many structural parts missing and barren of all systems equipment.

As a consequence of supplier breakdowns and parts shortages, Boeing was forced to delay 787 first delivery at least 15 months to August 2009.

In October, Vought CEO Elmer Doty acknowledged that his company was Boeing’s highest-risk supplier. Boeing responded by dispatching teams of managers to Vought’s 787 facility in Charleston, South Carolina, to help get them up to speed.

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Six months later, Vought delivered the fifth composite aft fuselage section to Boeing several months later than originally planned, but far closer to meeting Boeing’s original assembly requirements.

The sections delivered on 13 April are the first Vought shipset to include 98% of structural parts and at least a “portion” of the systems equipment, the spokeswoman says, declining to elaborate.

The first fully stuffed composite barrels should arrive in Everett “later this summer”, the spokeswoman adds. The completed sections should then arrive roughly as Boeing completes assembly on the last of the six-aircraft flight test fleet.

“In recent reviews with Boeing, they have indicated that Vought is taking the right actions in continuing to improve completeness and adding value to the program,” Joy Romero, VP of Vought’s 787 division said.

Vought’s statements echo a qualified endorsement made earlier this month by Boeing 787 VP and general manager Pat Shanahan, who said he was satisfied by the supplier’s progress but not completely happy thus far.

Vought has seven more shipsets of section 47/48 barrels in various levels of completion in Charleston. The company also has fabricated a total of 35 composite barrels.