Air Transport Guy Norris / Los Angeles
Boeing has kicked off production of the first composite stringers for the 787 vertical fin, marking the start of the largest major assembly for the new aircraft being made internally by the manufacturer.
The milestone, which took place at Boeing’s Frederickson Composite Manufacturing Center (CMC) in Washington, comes as sales of the twin jet in 2006 pass the 100 mark. The latest orders for 16, from unnamed customers, takes overall firm orders to 393 and commitments to 436.
The first vertical fin is due to be shipped to the 787 final assembly line in Everett around mid-2007, says Boeing. Unlike previous Boeing vertical fins, the 787 assembly is a slightly elliptically-shaped unit. The fin is being built on a “pulsed-line” using lean assembly techniques. Boeing says this will allow it to build the fins alongside the 777 empennage without having to add extra assembly space.
Launch 787 customer All Nippon Airlines has meanwhile become the first to make a critical equipment choice for the electric brake system, selecting Goodrich over arch-rival Messier-Bugatti. The wheels and brakes will be the industry’s first commercial electric braking system, the only other current production system being a Goodrich-developed electric brake system for the Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk. The first of these enhanced variant unmanned air vehicles is currently undergoing taxi tests in California prior to an expected first flight in October.
Goodrich is currently testing initial versions of the brakes and expects to achieve technical standard order (TSO) approval by early October. First production deliveries are planned for mid-2007.Messier-Bugatti is also completing final paperwork for TSO approval of its nose wheel.