Aerospace in 1991: U.S. Manufacturers (Boeing)
Aerospace in 1991 saw U.S Manufactures like Boeing preparing for upsurge in sales of its products. Among the major U.S. aerospace contractors, Boeing Corporation remained bullish about the future. The company continued talks with the government of Canada and European aerospace companies about divestiture of its Canadian subsidiary, de Havilland. Although Boeing expected downturns in its military contracts, sales of its commercial transports, like the twin-engine 737, 757, and 767, as well as the mammoth four-engine 747, continued to generate substantial profits. In addition, the company announced a trend-setting new airliner, the 777, which is scheduled to fly in mid-1994.
The largest twin-engine jet in Boeing’s inventory, the 375-passenger 777 is being developed as a replacement for aging McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 planes. It will compete with the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and the European-made Airbus A340. Later versions may have the range and passenger capability of early models of Boeing’s own 747. The 777 will have advanced engines, a new super-efficient wing, and a variety of weight-saving alloys and composite materials. Boeing has enlisted a number of risk-sharing partners for the 777, the principal one being a Japanese consortium that will build 20 percent of the airframe.
At the same time, Boeing is implementing a major change in its corporate culture. The 777 is the company’s first plane to be completely developed with the ‘design/build concept,’ in which prototype tooling and mock-up aircraft are essentially eliminated and the complete plane is designed and manufactured to final specifications the first time, thereby eliminating costly changes after aircraft have entered service and expensive machine tools are already in place. As a means to this goal, Boeing is designing the 777 as a ‘paperless’ airplane. Designers, manufacturing engineers, suppliers, and launch operators are tied together in a comprehensive computerized network that virtually eliminates costly and time consuming engineering drawings and manuals. Moreover, the computer network generates detailed three-dimensional images of major components and subassemblies, so that all participants can see how tooling will need to be built to eliminate incompatibilities between elements, and includes ergonomics — displaying maintenance operations to ensure that humans can effectively accomplish them. By the time the third design cycle for the 777 ended late in the spring, the computer system had pinpointed 2,500 incompatibilities. In a traditional design process, such problems might not have been caught for several years. During the activities of aerospace in 1991 U.S manufactures such as Boeing streamlined its manufacturing culture by cutting unnecessary mockups and moving to the final design in order to increase efficiency within its manufacturing cycle.
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