Boeing has started production of the first strengthened flightdeck doors for the 747, 767 and 777 at its Interiors Responsibility Center in Everett, and plans to begin retrofitting the first aircraft next month.

Demonstration models are being dispatched to Singapore and Hanover, Germany, as part of efforts to secure "at least 50% of the retrofit requirements", says Boeing. Boeing and heritage McDonnell Douglas aircraft account for around 12,000 of the estimated 15,500 western-made commercial jet aircraft in service. Of this, some 5,500 US-registered Boeing aircraft are subject to Federal Aviation Administration requirements covering retrofit of secure flightdeck doors by April next year. Of the affected US fleet, around 400 are widebodies that will almost certainly be fitted with the Boeing door.

Boeing says it has already received orders from six US major airlines and two foreign airlines for more than 2,600 aircraft. The majority of these will be fitted with the single-aisle strengthened door designed with California-based C&D Aerospace. This door has also been selected for the McDonnell Douglas types, including the DC-10 and MD-11 (Flight International, 12-18 March).

The widebody door weighs around 23kg (50lb) and is fitted with decompression blow-out panels in the case of the 767 and 777. This version also has an anti-jam panel at its base which allows the crew to escape in the case of a nose wheel-up landing. The door is Kevlar armoured, and fitted with a pressure rate sensor controlled latch.

Doors will be introduced into the production line for the 737, 767 and 777 (with the C&D version) in June, and by the end of the year for all the remaining lines. Retrofit of the twin-aisle door is expected to take around 12h, says Boeing.

Source: Flight International