Lockheed Martin has introduced a "flow-line" assembly process for the mid-fuselage section of the C-130J Hercules 2. Designed by Hyde Group of Cheshire, UK, the multi-stage jig allows mid-fuselage production to be integrated with the final assembly line. This replaces a 40-year-old practice of assembling the piece in a separate area of the factory and moving it to the line by crane. The change was partly prompted by the fact that the existing crane was unable to lift the mid-fuselage of the C-130J, which weighs more than 12t, according to David Cooper, projects director at Hyde. "Lockheed Martin asked us to look at the design [of the mid-fuselage assembly process] and what we could do to improve it," says Cooper. "We came up with a five-stage jig," he adds. Hyde was selected to supply the jig after the contract was put out to competitive tender. Shown is Stage 1 of assembly, where the cargo-deck floor is lowered on to a trolley system, prior to the fitting of wheel-well panels.

Source: Flight International