MIAMI — Boeing and key Japanese partners have signed a formal agreement to produce large sections for its forthcoming 777X family aircraft.
The deal ratifies last year’s Memorandum of Agreement subscribed by Boeing, Japan Aircraft Industries (JAI) and Japan Aircraft Development Corporation (JADC) -a consortium representing five major aerospace firms, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), ShinMaywa Industries and NIPPI Corporation.
The contract announced last June 23, stipulates that these five companies will be responsible for providing fuselage sections; center wing sections; pressure bulkhead; main landing gear wells; passenger, cargo and main landing gear doors; wing components and wing-body fairings for the new 777-8X and 777-9X jetliners, accounting approximately 21 percent of the major structural components required to assemble the aircraft.
“The signing of this contract is an important milestone for JADC and JAI,” said Shigeru Murayama, JADC Chairman and president of KHI. “The JAI companies are investing in new facilities and introducing robotic and other automated systems to ensure they deliver high-quality products on time every time. This is a measure of their commitment to the success of the 777X.”
Boeing has partnered with Japanese aerospace companies for nearly five decades to develop and manufacture the Next-Generation 737, 737 MAX, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787 Dreamliner, and now the 777X. Last year, the manufacturer began to implement a new building method for the current 777 production line, after teaming up with Japanese robotic firm Kuka, ahead of the automation of the production line in the 777X program.
It is the first time Boeing will use such technology to manufacture wide-body commercial airplanes. The pulse line uses guided KUKA robots to do the riveting currently performed by workers using handheld tools. The robots will work on the forward and aft sections, installing up to 60,000 fasteners per 777 fuselage with enhanced speed and precision.
In January, FHI kicked off the construction of a new facility of its Handa premises to assemble the center wing boxes for the 777X, to be completed in 2016. Handa Plant currently produces center wing boxes for 777 and 787 airliners. Last March, Boeing selected Nabtesco, another Japanese company, to supply primary flight control actuators for the family aircraft.
As of last June, Boeing had 306 firm orders for the 777X. According to the manufacturer, the new generation of large wide-body twin-engined aircraft is set to enter production in 2017, and first deliveries are set to begin in 2020.