Pratt & Whitney is developing what is believed to be the first-ever military jet engine moving production line for the Lockheed Martin F-22A’s F119 engine in a move designed to improve productivity and pave the way for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s F135 powerplant. The engine maker expects to begin the slow transition to the moving line at its engine centre in Middletown, Connecticut around July. The first deliveries are expected before the end of this year, says product director Greg Treacy.

P&W is due to deliver 56 F119s in 2006, increasing to 60 in 2007. Assembly of the initial Lot 1 F135 engines is meanwhile due to start in early 2007, with the first substantial batch of 24 Lot 2 engines due to enter production around a year later. Jet engines are traditionally assembled in vertical “stacks”, but owing to the looming workload posed by the F135 engine, P&W is developing a horizontally arranged process to speed up the line.

Under this process three major subassembly modules, the low-pressure turbine, fan and core, will be bolted together as the engine moves horizontally down a floor track. By moving to lean assembly techniques P&W has cut down F119 production cycle time to 15 days, of which just six are taken up on “actual assembly”, says Treacy.

Source: Flight International