While Airbus has run into some production snags with its
A380 Superjumbo that have cost it customers, Boeing
appears to be moving ahead on schedule with its smaller 787 Dreamliner. Boeing
just recently announced that it has completed the "virtual rollout"
of its new composite-bodied aircraft.
"Today's virtual rollout is the culmination of many
months of effort by thousands of team members at Boeing and its 787 partners.
Through the use of our new digital toolset, provided by Dassault Systemes, the
team has proven the ability to manufacture 787 designs," said Mike Bair,
VP and GM for the Dreamliner program.
Through the use of a powerful Dassault computer/software
system, Boeing has been able to trim costs by 20% and cut a year from
production on the Dreamliner. Engineers have also been able to see how parts
will fit together in the virtual world before running into possible snags on a
real production line.
"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,"
If you may recall, the Airbus A380 has been delayed by a
year due to problems
with the electrical harness which consists of 100,000 wires and 40,300
connectors. These problems were found during production rather than earlier in
the design process of the aircraft.
Boeing is currently taking steps to reduce weight on the
Dreamliner by switching from aluminum to titanium on some parts used in the
aircraft. In order to meet the design targets for fuel efficiency and range,
the switch to titanium is a necessity. Not surprisingly, the computer
simulations have been instrumental in pointing out critical components that are
ripe for the switch to titanium.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is expected to make its first
flight in August of 2007 with delivery starting in 2008. As of now, Boeing has
orders for 458 planes from 37 customers.
"It's a challenge, no doubt about it. This is the team,
all of us together -- our customers, our partners and each of us -- who will bring
this airplane to life. It's an amazing journey from where we started just four
years ago. But the best part is yet to come," said Bair.