Boeing’s robotic and human workers join up to start production of 777X jets
By Alan Boyle – The 777X is bigger than the 787 Dreamliner, but it picks up on a lot of the technologies pioneered by the smaller plane, ranging from wider windows to a common layout for the flight deck and the cargo handling system.
Boeing says it has improved the production process as well.
The 777X production process builds upon lessons learned from the 787 Dreamliner program, which has shifted Boeing toward greater automation and wider use of lightweight carbon fiber for components.
Boeing’s two 777X variants, the 777-8 and 777-9, are designed to carry between 350 and 425 passengers. That stretches well beyond the 396-seat capacity of Boeing’s biggest current-generation 777. The new jets are expected to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient as well.
The 777X’s 235-foot wingspan is so wide that each wingtip has an 11-foot-long section that’s built to fold upward, just in case extra clearance is needed at small airports.
The showcase for the upgraded production system is Boeing’s 1.3 million-square-foot Composite Wing Center, the billion-dollar facility where the carbon-fiber wing components for the 777X are being fabricated. more>