Earlier this year Boeing increased the rate from 2.5-3.5 aircraft per month and is on track to achieve a planned 10 aircraft per month rate by late 2013.
The construction of the 787 Dreamliner is 50% composite materials, including fuselage and wing.
The programme production rate accounts for aircraft built at the Boeing South Carolina and Everett facilities, including the Temporary Surge Line that was activated earlier this year in Everett.
Boeing employees are using teamwork and new technologies to meet production rate increases. Approximately 500 employee involvement teams are actively pursuing improvement efforts across the programme.
Among the new tools being deployed to improve productivity in the Final Assembly areas are orbital drilling machines. These are used to drill holes to attach the wings to the centre fuselage section of the aircraft. The drilling technique is unique in that the cutter rotates in a circular motion to carve out the hole, rather than a conventional drill that cuts straight into the material. The machines are said to offer improved precision and time savings for mechanics, as well as improved safety as the machines require lower thrust and torque.
To date, 35 787s have been delivered to eight airlines and there are more than 800 unfilled orders with 58 customers worldwide.
- Newer aircraft programmes like the Boeing B787 and Airbus A380 and A350 XWB are one for the factors driving the adoption of composites in commercial aviation applications, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report.
Boeing's 787: trials, tribulations, and restoring the dream (feature article)