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USA Today - Boeing Using Airbus Techniques On 7E7  
User currently offlineB747FAN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 82 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 2 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4600 times:



Boeing rips a page out of Airbus' book

By Byron Acohido, USA TODAY

SEATTLE — Is Boeing morphing into Airbus?

By turning to contractors in several countries to supply most of its newest jetliner model — including the wings — Boeing not only breaks with tradition but apes a strategy its rival, Airbus, has used for years.

Even the method that Boeing has chosen to bring the large sections of its proposed 7E7 to the USA for assembly is a bow to Airbus, a consortium of European aerospace companies that this year will take more orders and deliver more commercial jets than Boeing.

Boeing says it will modify at least three 747-400 jumbo jets to air-ship the large parts, imitating Airbus' use of a bulked-up A300-600 jet — nicknamed Beluga — to shuttle airplane sections between factories in Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy.

Boeing now relies mainly on ships, rail cars and trucks for transporting airplane parts to its assembly plants in Washington and California. By adding air freight — handled by what looks like a 747 on steroids — Boeing hopes to push more detailed work to key partners, much like Airbus does with its members.

"This isn't your father's Boeing anymore," says aviation industry consultant Scott Hamilton. "Boeing is following Airbus' lead more and more these days."

Boeing is pointing toward a decision, perhaps in the next few weeks, on where the 7E7 will be assembled. Company directors are expected to formally green-light the model by Dec. 31, putting the first delivery in 2008.

More than a dozen cities and states offered incentive packages to land the 7E7 plant, led by Washington state's offer of $3.2 billion in regulatory and tax concessions. Whoever gets the plant will reap only 1,200 new factory jobs, a far cry from the 10,000 workers Boeing needed in the 1980s to produce a 747 every 23 days.

While the airliner project itself is tentative, planning for 7E7's manufacture is well along. Earlier this month, Boeing announced the formation of a "7E7 Council," composed of senior executives from six outside suppliers, plus Boeing divisions in Wichita and Tacoma, Wash. The council will act as the 7E7's contracting hub. Instead of dealing with Boeing headquarters, thousands of suppliers will work through the council members, each of whom will become responsible for delivering largely completed airplane sections.

Cutting costs and time

Boeing's goal is to pare costs and reduce assembly time. Using Japanese-style just-in-time inventory techniques, it wants to roll a new 200- to 250-seat 7E7 out the factory door every three days, instead of every 12 to 17 days as it now does with its other models.

"We're really trying to integrate our partners into this process, so they can optimize the production sequence in order to drive the most efficient production system up and down the supply chain," says Mike Bair, senior vice president of the 7E7 program.

A confluence of forces is driving Boeing to change the way it builds airplanes, including:

The Airbus threat. Boeing's rival is betting that airlines will need larger aircraft to get more travelers in and out of big hub airports. So it is developing the 550-seat A380 for delivery in 2006. To trump the A380, Boeing proposed a stretched 747, then the Sonic Cruiser, a model that would fly at nearly the speed of sound. Both drew little interest from airlines. So it has moved on to the 7E7, whose chief selling point is economy. Using fuel-sipping engines and lightweight composite materials, the 7E7 will be designed to operate 20% more cheaply than the similar-size 767, which Boeing has been delivering since 1982, or the Airbus A330. Boeing believes the 7E7's thriftiness will help airlines profitably pair smaller cities on mid- to very long-range routes, opening up markets.

Digital advances. The rise of computing power and the Internet have made it possible for Boeing to collaborate in real time with engineers in several nations. As a result, Boeing has increasingly dispersed design work to engineers in Russia, China and Japan, tapping their expertise, while also improving its chances for sales in those markets.

New materials. Wider use of lightweight composite materials will make the 7E7's modular assemblies easier and cheaper to move from suppliers' factories to Boeing's assembly plant. Most of the 7E7's fuselage, about a third of its underlying structure, and the entire wing are expected to come from Japan. Having cut 35,000 jobs the past two years, Boeing wants to shift the burden for hiring during good times — and layoffs in bad times — to major partners. Only the nose, cockpit and part of the tail are likely to be built by Boeing.

Suppliers gain authority

That means thousands of Boeing suppliers will have to figure out how to pitch their goods and services to Boeing's prime partners, who may be located in a different state or overseas, says John Vicklund, president of a not-for-profit consulting firm, Washington Manufacturing Services.

"This is happening everywhere in manufacturing; in electronics, wood products, textiles, you name it," Vicklund says. "As a smaller shop, you don't have to roll over and play dead. It depends on whether you're willing to change your way of doing things."

Some critics say Boeing's rush to offload key jobs to outside suppliers is shortsighted. For its entire history, Boeing has jealously guarded its techniques for manufacturing airplane wings. Now Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan is making a strong bid to manufacture the 7E7's wing in Japan.

"In the end, if we teach everybody how to make the major parts, why is Boeing even needed?" asks Jennifer MacKay, president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the union that represents Boeing engineers and technical workers. "Having a viable workforce is what put Boeing where it is today, yet this is the very thing they're cutting."

A model of the 747-400 freighter, with its forward hump widened and extended the length of the fuselage, underscores how Boeing is positioning itself to let Japan supply the 7E7's wing. The freighter appears to have room to accommodate the 7E7's 21-foot-wide fuselage sections and 85-foot wing sections. By cutting shipping time from a month by sea to less than a day by air, Boeing estimates it could save up to 40% in shipping and inventory expenses.

But it still wants access to a shipping port. "If something were to happen, and we had to go to a backup plan, and we didn't have water access of some kind, we would have no way to get parts to final assembly," Bair says.






) He turns not back who is bound to a star. - Leonardo Da Vinci.
11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineB747FAN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 82 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 2 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4551 times:

Glad to see Boeing putting great effort into 7E7. No need for arrogance. About time Boeing uses manufacturing techniques that Airbus has used for a while now. I believe that this is what pushes Boeing back to the front once the 7E7 hits the Market.


) He turns not back who is bound to a star. - Leonardo Da Vinci.
User currently offlineTWFirst From Vatican City, joined Apr 2000, 6346 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (11 years 2 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4481 times:

It's not as if the techniques Airbus uses (and Boeing is now starting to employ) are unique... maybe unique to the commercial aircraft industry but by no means innovative or new. It's called supply chain management. Another common manufacturing process mentioned in the article is just-in-time delivery. Most manufacturers use this these days... it's hard to be competitive without it. Boeing is just catching up to modern manufacturing methods.


An unexamined life isn't worth living.
User currently offlineMidnightMike From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2892 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (11 years 2 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4411 times:


Smart move, if it works do, who cares where the idea came from. Years ago, Airbus hired MCDONNELL Douglas engineers to develop the FMS system, smart move for Airbus as well.



NO URLS in signature
User currently offlineBeltwaybandit From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 495 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (11 years 2 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

Sure, but when Airbus first got into the business they "copied" Boeing's technique of building aluminum tubes with wings! Building huge assets via multiple sub-assemblies has become very common in defense, shipping and commercial aerospace.

User currently offlineJustplanesmart From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 724 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (11 years 2 months 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 4138 times:

The author of the article, Byron Acohido, also works for the Seattle Times. In the past, some of his articles have been so slanted against Boeing that company officials would no longer talk to him. So it is no surprise to see a negative spin toward Boeing in this article, either.


"So many planes; so little time..."
User currently offlineDanny From Poland, joined Apr 2002, 3515 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (11 years 2 months 21 hours ago) and read 3955 times:

Smart - they finally have learnt something  Big grin

User currently offlineMD80Nut From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 979 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (11 years 2 months 20 hours ago) and read 3896 times:

Boeing is recognizing the new realities of today's globalized economy, so it is very smart. Besides, by giving companies in Japan and other countries a stake in the aircraft, it also encourages airlines in those countries to support them by buying 7E7s. It's worked well for Airbus. Besides, Boeing has already been using components manufactured outside the US in it's commercial airplane production, the 747-400 "Super Guppies" will certainly help that process.

I do believe Boeing has made a colossal mistake in not designing a new aircraft to compete with the A380. I believe the market for an advanced, very large aircraft like the A380 will be much bigger than Boeing thinks, and by leaving that market exclusively to Airbus they are insuring it will be a major success.

cheers, Ralph



Fly Douglas Jets DC-8 / DC-9 / DC-10 / MD80 / MD11 / MD90 / 717
User currently offlineFlyingbronco05 From United States of America, joined May 2002, 3840 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (11 years 2 months 20 hours ago) and read 3796 times:

By turning to contractors in several countries to supply most of its newest jetliner model — including the wings — Boeing not only breaks with tradition but apes a strategy its rival, Airbus, has used for years.

Um....

Boeing did this for the 744 and the 777.

FB05



Never Trust Your Fuel Gauge
User currently offlineB747FAN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 82 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 2 months 19 hours ago) and read 3742 times:

MD80NUT,

In my humble opinion, Boeing has targeted the most sought after market niche. Long range, high frequency, direct service rather than low frequency, high capacity routes. Also, Boeing already possesses the framework for an ultra capacity aircraft. If per chance the A380 is highly accepted, Boeing will use 7E7 technologies in upgrading the 747-400 (as already hinted by Boeing execs.)

I think that Boeing is well placed in its business strategy. We already know that the 7E7 has raised some eyebrows and that airlines are considering it to replace their aging 757 and A330 fleets. If Boeing can deliver on its promises of 20% less operating costs, and long range, then I thing that the 7E7 will be another cash cow for them. The A380 is not a direct competitor to the 747-400 as most people think. The A380 is a revolutionary aircraft and is a step above the 744, and only time will tell if it is as successful and as productive as its closest competitor (747-400). We can sit here and speculate all we want, but we cannot know for sure



) He turns not back who is bound to a star. - Leonardo Da Vinci.
User currently offlineMD80Nut From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 979 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (11 years 2 months 19 hours ago) and read 3670 times:

B747FAN,
I completely agree with you that the 7E7 targets the most popular category and that Boeing has the ability to build a competitor to the A380. But by waiting to see how successful the A380 is they are losing valuable time and giving Airbus an exclusive market for years, since by the time Boeing decides to build it will probably take several more years to put it into production. By then probably Airbus will offer larger and/or smaller variants of the A380, giving it's customers more alternatives. Obviously this is all mere speculation, and only time will tell.

I am optimistic the 7E7 will succeed if Boeing goes ahead with it and can meet the promised goals. And I think the technology from this aircraft can serve as a springboard for any future competitor to the A380.



Fly Douglas Jets DC-8 / DC-9 / DC-10 / MD80 / MD11 / MD90 / 717
User currently offlineRichard28 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 1630 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (11 years 2 months 17 hours ago) and read 3542 times:

I wonder if Boeing will also imitate Airbus on the 7E7 by introducing cockpit commonality with the B777?

Would it not make sense to start this kind of thinking for the 7E7 and future products?

Rich.


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