Guy Norris / Los Angeles

Programme chief defends decision to build airliner's wing offshore, saying arguments against the move are "emotional"

Up to 65% of the Boeing 7E7 airframe will be built by external suppliers, including the aircraft's entire wingbox, which will be manufactured in Japan, the company has revealed.

Three Japanese companies have secured 35% of the work (see box), while a new teaming arrangement between Vought and Alenia has been awarded 26%. Boeing will keep 35% of work in-house at Australian, Canadian and US sites, with the remaining 4% still unallocated.

The move makes the 7E7 the first Seattle airliner with a wing to be assembled by external suppliers. Defending the company's decision to move the wing offshore, 7E7 senior vice-president Mike Bair says the arguments against the decision are purely "emotional" and do not take into account Boeing's changing role as a systems integrator. "The wing generates lift, but the thing that makes it fly is our ability to understand the requirements of the customers, and to integrate all that into an aircraft that works," he says.

Boeing's Frederickson, Washington site will provide the composite vertical fin; Tulsa, Oklahoma the fixed and moveable wing leading edges; and Wichita, Kansas the flightdeck and part of the Section 41 nose structure. Boeing Winnipeg will provide wing-to-body fairings, while Boeing's Hawker de Havilland company in Australia will supply the moveable trailing edges.

Dallas, Texas-based Vought Aircraft Industries and Alenia Aeronautica of Italy are "putting together a separate business entity to team up on the centre and aft fuselages and horizontal stabiliser", says Bair. The sections represent the bulk of the fuselage and will be assembled and "pre-stuffed" before delivery to the Boeing final assembly site.

Boeing says it is still in "due diligence" on the site for final assembly, but says Everett will be the 7E7 project headquarters and the development engineering and design integration centre.

Source: Flight International