Kawasaki Heavy Industries has begun manufacturing tooling and acquiring long-lead items in preparation for starting fuselage fabrication for the Boeing 787 early next year. Kawasaki commercial aircraft department general manager Takuji Hamaguchi says a new factory dedicated to 787 component production is now under construction and is scheduled to open in Nagoya in the first quarter of 2006.

Fabrication of the fuselage barrel, which will be built as a single piece composed of composites, will begin in the first half of the year and assembly will begin in the second half. Kawasaki will deliver the first fuselage to Boeing in the first quarter of 2007.

Hamaguchi says Kawasaki is now studying with Boeing how the fuselage will be transported from its factory to Nagoya airport, where it will be flown to Seattle on a Boeing 747-400LCF.

Kawasaki now supplies Boeing with the fuselage for the 777, but this is produced in four aluminium pieces at another Nagoya factory. Hamaguchi says "the real challenge" is the change from four pieces to one, but adds: "We do have the confidence to make it happen. We are working closely with Boeing, Boeing Wichita, Vought and Alenia."

Hamaguchi also says that tooling for the new factory is already being manufactured and some materials and critical equipment have been ordered.

Kawasaki is considering outsourcing some 787 pieces to other Asian manufacturers, in particular pieces of the fixed trailing edge and the main landing gear wheel well. "Some of the components will definitely be outsourced, but we haven't reached a final agreement yet," says Hamaguchi.

* ShinMaywa Industries plans to open a new factory in Kobe to produce the front and rear spar of the 787 wing, which it will supply to the aircraft's wing box manufacturer Mitsubishi.

Source: Flight International