Thread: Virtual dreams
12-28-2006, 04:58 AM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2006
We've all been following the 787 program closely - I think that's understandable. There's no question that this is a big project. All eyes in the aviation world are on us as we head toward final assembly early next year. And like any all-new airplane program, it has its challenges.
But as we approach the end of 2006, the Dreamliner remains on schedule. We understand the challenges, and we're managing those issues along the way.
A "virtual landing" - the Dreamliner is on its way, as depicted in this new image.
This year we completed a number of important events in the development of the 787, with test articles completed and the first inner subcontractor shipments made. In addition, the 787 engines are performing as we expected and we're well in advance of where we've been in typical engine development at this stage in the past.
I'm sure you've heard that the airplane is "overweight." Well, most new airplanes at this point in the program are. We have a plan on how to bring the weight down. But the good news is, while the weight's up a little bit, our performance and operating costs assessments are actually better than what we had projected.
To quote Scott Carson, BCA's president and CEO, at a conference last week, "These are hard projects to do, but we're very satisfied with the progress we have made. We remain laser focused on the execution of our promises and commitments on this program as we move into next year. But we know it will be a challenging year and we'll learn a lot as we go through it."
Still, before we turn to 2007, let's acknowledge some big milestones so far. This year major assembly started on time, and our structure partners around the world are building their key parts of the airplane and "spinning" fuselage barrels. The "Systems" team has also made tremendous progress - opening new laboratories, testing our flight control system, and beginning to deliver the first production parts.
Simulations such as this 787 final assembly factory flow diagram are the culmination of the challenge to digitally "build the airplane before you build it."
And as if to put a cap on things, the program just held a "virtual rollout" event at the Everett factory. This was a way for customers, partners, and employees to celebrate the 787 Dreamliner's solid progress over the past year, and to recognize the completion of detailed analysis of the build process of the airplane.
One of the cool things demonstrated during the event was the new "digital toolset," provided by Dassault Systemes, and a number of engineering-based simulations ranging from parts installations to final assembly factory flow.
The computer simulation is designed to prove the "manufacturability" of the 787. As program chief Mike Bair said, "Our tools have enabled us to model the entire production process from our partners' factories to our own. We have found errors in simulation that would have been costly to find in production and have been able to design corrections quickly to keep the program on track."
The 787 program has unveiled a new paint scheme for the 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter and a new name for the giant freighter: "Dreamlifter." The second of three freighters will be arriving in Seattle next month already painted and ready for flight testing.
Now to 2007. It's the year when many of the program's major milestones will be completed. 787 production in the Everett factory will get underway. Rollout of the airplane and first flight will take place in 2007, as well as the beginning of the flight test program. Every year has been important so far, but next year will certainly be the most dynamic as we head toward deliveries in 2008.
As Mike Bair said last week, this is why we came to work for Boeing. "To create new airplanes that bring new levels of performance to our customers and new levels of comfort and convenience to the passengers of the world."
And I'd have to agree with Mike's conclusion that this has been an amazing journey - but the best is yet to come.
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