Boeing has completed its first successful full three dimensional virtual final assembly for the 787 in a test of all build processes of the new aircraft.

The computer-aided three dimensional interactive application (CATIA) modelling software, supplied by Dassault Systèmes and first used to build the Dassault Aviation Rafale fighter before being refined into a 'virtual plateau' with the Dassault Falcon Jet 7X, joining all suppliers' designs in one model simultaneously. The CATIA allows the company to test the compatability of all the components, systems and parts for the 787. Boeing performed its first full run-through this week, effectively building the first aircraft, virtually.

Boeing 787 virtual assembly line W445

Around 3,000 Boeing staff and 787 team suppliers watched the pre-integration of wing parts yesterday at the company's Seattle headquarters with representatives from airline customers. Real wing integration will be carried out in the factory's Building 40-36 before moving to Building 40-26 where final assembly will be housed.

Boeing says the first virtual assembly worked perfectly, with all parts fitting. In previous tests avionics equipment was found to have been impossible to fit, due to a beam being in the way, leading to a structural re-design. Boeing hopes the sophisticated tool will rule out any surprises in the real assembly of the 787. The company estimates a time saving of around 1 year and cost savings of one-fifth.

The video animation sequence showing the final assembly, as used in the demonstration yesterday has been posted on the Seattle news site (shown below or follow this link).