Pontifications: A new setback for Boeing

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 18, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing suffered another setback last week, and this time it’s unrelated to the 737 MAX.

Boeing abandoned a robotic riveting/fastener system awkwardly called Fuselage Automatic Upright Build, or FAUB, intended to speed production.

Bloomberg first reported the abandonment. The Seattle Times has an extensive story detailing the history and objectives.

Doing these processes manually is incredibly labor intensive. FAUB, when it works, dramatically cuts the time, improves the accuracy and reduces injuries.

FAUB is but one element of a production transformation Boeing has been doing for years under the code name Black Diamond.

Converging technologies in NMA

Various automated and digital processes technologies have been in place on various 7-Series programs for years. FAUB, as The Seattle Times reported, was added to the 777 Classic line ab0ut six years ago. Part of the mission was to de-risk FAUB for application to the 777X.

Then, FAUB and the other processes were to converge for the first time on one Boeing Commercial Airplanes program with the New Midmarket Airplane, or NMA.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said on several earnings calls that the NMA was as much about production as it was about a new airplane program (or words to this effect).

But Boeing couldn’t make FAUB work.

Why not?

This is a good question and one for which there isn’t a clear answer.

It works elsewhere

FAUB, or a system very similar, is used by Airbus and other aerospace companies. It works for them, says Jessica Kinman, a senior manager for Dassault Systemes.

Kinman spoke Friday at a seminar sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) at North Seattle College about advanced manufacturing and other transformative production processes. This was just two days after the Boeing FAUB news broke.

Among the processes illustrated: robotics working on an upright fuselage. In other words, FAUB—although this was not identified as Boeing’s FAUB.

With the NMA business plan relying in part on Black Diamond processes, of which FAUB is an element, losing FAUB isn’t going to help an already-struggling business case.

But, then, NMA is on hold at Boeing until the MAX returns to service and cash flow resumes. So, from this perspective, losing FAUB at this time isn’t especially critical.

Longer term

But longer term, Boeing needs to understand why it couldn’t make FAUB work whereas Airbus and others can.

It’s all part of the digital factory Dassault and its competitors consult on as aerospace (and other industries) transform in the future.

I’ll have more about this in a subsequent post.

94 Comments on “Pontifications: A new setback for Boeing

  1. Boeing need to quit wasting energy on NMA. They’ve much bigger problems.

    Instead of being focused on manufacturing technologies for a clean sheet for a product they may build at 6 per month – how about for a clean sheet they may build at >60 a month?

    New single aisle, primary boarding through L2. Fuselage options between 199 and 280 seats in ULCC config. 2 wingsets for different range. Start with the version that goes against A321XLR first (or even what a stretched A322 would be) then work down the stack taking out weight from optimisation.

    They can work with EMB to fill the gap <200 seats.

      • Yes, on an old model.

        Instead of the power point rangers talking all about the “game changing” MoM/NMA/whatever it is this week, how about focusing on something that will deliver tangible value to Boeing.

        Clean sheet single aisle, with automation, ALM, CFRP, FBW, modern avionics etc all baked in rather than adhoc’d on where possible.

        • Read the article.
          FAUB was introduced in parallel to developing the 777_X_ to de-risk production improvements of the upcoming new model “X” that is based on a slightly changed fuselage ( and the same basic design/setup).
          It was stated early that classic 777 production and the 777X would share an FAL line. ( inclusive of those “777 production throughput will be kept constant” inane embellishments )

          Maybe compare to Airbus separating introduction of sharklets and the NEO engines.

          I’d be really interested in details on what made the FAUB move abortive.
          We don’t hear much about A350 automatic production aspects after the wing skin drilling/fastening system was debugged.
          A320 newest FAL line doesn’t seem to “hang” on automation either. More like getting a grip on options.

          • I did read the article. I don’t know how you’ve come to the conclusion I haven’t.

            FAUB was on an old model. Didn’t work on the old model.

            If FAUB had worked – where else was it going? It was going to MoM/NMA as per the PowerpointRangers.

            Where does it need to go? The single aisle which is being produced at a higher rate than all other lines put together. Since it probably won’t work on the current 737 – they need to replace it.

          • “I did read the article. I don’t know how you’ve come to the conclusion I haven’t.”

            content of your post? 🙂

            The new model is the old model.
            777 classic and X share the fuselage.

          • Old model = 777.

            New model = NMA/MoM.

            New model should be NSA/FSA.

          • It is irrelevant where you master your manufacturing problems. if your “really different model” retains the Al(Li) fuselage the method is the same.
            If that really different model has a CFRP barrel longitudinal riveting is probably less/not required.

            Question is what giving up on FAUB tells us about Boeing’s future intentions re fuselage material selection.

          • “Like the Max, the 777X will be certificated by the FAA as a derivative rather than all-new design – a decision which Clark says he’s “frankly a little bit surprised at” as the aircraft incorporates an all-new carbonfibre wing and new GE Aviation GE9X propulsion.”


            I’m a little surprised as well, new wings, new engine, longer fuselage with bigger windows, taller, more humidity, lowered cabin altitude…

            Will the flight controls be more 787 than 777 ?

            Is the 777X more than 50% different to the 777 ?

          • Remember that the 747-8, with a new wing, new engines and new systems, was certificated as a derivative. Not saying it was the thing to do–Airbus argued it needed to be a new type certificate. But these days are probably over after the 777x.

          • Ironically the MAX is far less of a stretch of the grandfather clause (pun intended)

          • I’m not sure if the 777X will be completely grandfathered. If the grandfather has some bastard DNA, DeFazio might want to clean it.

            If it takes another year for the MAX to return, it will take a long time for the 777X too.

          • Hi Scott

            If I understand correctly, the 747-8 wings only had carbon fibre trailing edges, and raked tips, the rest of the wing was broadly similar to the -400 wing, i.e. traditional construction, and not carbon fibre.

            The 777X wing is largely carbon fibre, and it has folding tips.

            As far as I know the windows on the 747-8 are the same size as the -400, and the cabin altitude, and humidity is the same.

            I understand the need to certify aircraft based on precedent, and I have no problem with a modular approach being taken, but I do think some common sense needs to be applied.

            Like you, I think after the 777x, things will change.

        • Keep in mind, part of industrialization is designing the product to work with assemble methods.

          As the 777 is an old design, that wold not have been done.

          I believe the 757 failed on its industrial as it was not an efficient build aircraft and was more costly for its size and a reason Boeing let it go.

          The 747 had those issues when engineering and build were not on the same plane (pun intended).

          It takes close collaboration to get it all to work and Boeing has been all about anything but close collaboration with is silos and bean counter management shift from an engineering company.

  2. My understanding from the outside is that Boeing has concentrated on making conventional production processes more efficient whilst being less focused on robotics. For example the incredible progress in Renton that has led to quite extraordinary improvements in throughput. Airbus on the other hand has focused more on the introducing robotics across FAL.

    In this instance the introduction of FAUB for production of the B777x seemed a bit odd unless they were looking at quite substantial volumes to cover the initial costs of investment. That must have been a bit of a risk given the parlours state of the VLA market. Perhaps it was seen as an opportunity to learn the skills but as it stands they have a large expensive piece of machinery which may be difficult to utilise elsewhere.

    You could argue this is the issue writ large with the A380 with a whole specialised logistics train (docks, ships, barges, TGG etc) and rather unique production process soon to be fallow.

    I bet all these ideas sounded good at the time.

    • Having tried for 5 years without acceptable improvements indicates that the basic premise of how to apply the concept idea was faulty.

      FAUB like any other production “gimmick” should be universally applicable. Not just a 777(x) thing.

      My guess would be that Boeing ran into the “we hate our workforce” thingy.
      Automation, robotics is an enhancement to the workforce to increase their productivity.
      It is not a replacement for the workforce making them redundant.

      Satisfying to see another PR overstatement … first, best, inimitable ..
      .. fall on its face.

    • “… For example the incredible progress in Renton that has led to quite extraordinary improvements in throughput. ..”

      If you make all the errors in the book and then some and thus start at abysmal throughput … “extraordinary improvements in throughput”
      are easy to come by.
      Just fix the issues that tunneled state of the art knowledge and voila …

      • I am talking over the past 20 years+, not just the recent revamp, as I understand it they have consistently and substantially improved the throughput and efficiency of the process

        • Well of course they did ..they just kept adding another FAL inside the
          same building.
          The 3rd FAL was added for start of the Max build .
          As the fuselages arrive complete from Spirit ( now thats a place that has done some real process improvement) Boeing only had to make changes to its wing assembly lines at Renton, where they changed from the old vertical build process , although one old build station was kept for the P-8 wings.

        • Externalizing work. What the GM plant Lopez “worked” at VW. Looked good at the beginning. then things folded.
          Terrible quality, suppliers going belly up from being pressured well beyond what could have made sense.

          787 project ( and the “production is a cartoon” thing ) is near 20 years old.

  3. >Boeing needs to understand why it couldn’t make FAUB work whereas Airbus and others can.

    Well since the new line in Hamburg just when live about a year ago and Hamburg still reports issues the jury is out on this.

    Here is a review of the new automated line in Hamburg.

    Of note is:
    1. that a “flex-track” system is used for the bulk of the riveting
    2. heavy robots only do the radial joints
    3. about 30% of all fasteners are in awkward places and no attempt is being made to automate those

    • LNA article said, Airbus is using FAUB or a system very similar.
      Your 3 notes doesn’t seem to be FAUB, only little bit ahead of Boeing.

      I wonder how high a section can be built in upright position.

      • I should look it up , but doesnt Spirit have large frames so it can rotate the complete fuselage for the smaller diameter 737

  4. The 777X is not looking like it will produce more than 500 aircrafty at this stage. The A350 is ordered by nearly all 777 operators & the A350-1000 is 30t lighter, flies as far, and the 777 isn’t particulairy low cost. That doesn’t go away. Maybe a seperate (deeply unpopular) topic..

    Maybe it is a sign of new realism Boeing pulled the plug here. For a next generation of aircraft (NMA/FSA), the lessons learned / knowledge of this project are inherited. If a next generation of aircraft fuselage it (partly) carbon, it will be entirely different fuselage assembly technology anayway. More 787 like.

    • Hello Keesje,

      This information is up to date as of October 2019.

      To October 2019, 48 customers have ordered the A350 (All variants). Of the 48 customers only 27 of them had previously ordered the 777 (all models).

      If we consider 77 customers have ordered the 777, only 36% or approximately one third of 777 operators have also ordered the A350.

      As of October 2019, Boeing has outstanding orders for 433 777 aircraft. Of the 24 customers with outstanding 777 orders only eleven have orders for the A350.

      10 of the 11 airlines (Aeroflot, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines & United) are major airlines. The other is a lessor.

      For reference, as of the same date the A350 had 587 outstanding orders or a backlog 25% higher than the 777.

      If we assume the A350-900 as a suitable replacement for the 777-200 series of aircraft and the A350-1000 a suitable replacement for the 777-300ER, only nine of the thirty-five airlines (Air China, Air France, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, JAL, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways & United) that ordered a 777-200 series aircraft are replacing (in part or in full) the 777-200 fleet with the A350-900.

      It is hard to come to any conclusions about a replacement aircraft for the 777-300ER at this stage, as airlines who are adding the A350-1000 are still to the larger part maintaining their 777-300ER fleets. Some airlines have both the A350 and the 777-300ER both currently on order.

      The interesting statistic for the A350 revolves around customers who already operate the A330. Of the 107 customers who have ordered the A330, 38 of them have also ordered the A350. In other words approximately 80% of A350 customers were / still are operators of the A330.

      Of all the airlines that ordered the A350 only eight of them were previously all 777 operators (i.e did not operate the A330). As such, we can only argue that only 16% of A350 customers used the aircraft to replace the 777.

      If we consider the only true Boeing aircraft to replace the 777-200 series of aircraft is the A350-900, this shouldn’t represent a surprise to us.

      There are only two airline A350 customers (Yemenia & Starlux) that are not previous operators of either the A330 or 777.

      As such, the numbers suggest:
      (1) Only nine (large) major airlines have current orders for both the A350 and 777. This suggests these airlines have the critical mass to economically operate both types of aircraft.
      (2) Even though one third of previous 777 customers have ordered the A350, the data suggests only 16% of them may use the A350 to replace the 777.
      (3) The majority (80%) of A350 operators are previous / current operators of the A330.
      (4) There is not enough data to make any valid conclusions about the preferred replacement for the 777-300ER. Most (nearly all) of these aircraft remain in service, regardless of the A350-1000 coming into airline fleets.
      (5) Both the 777 and A350 have significant order backlogs. There are currently 25 customers with order backlogs for the 777 and 43 customers for the A350.

      • “” 16% of A350 customers used the aircraft to replace the 777 “”

        This seems interesting. I wonder how many planes these 16% are.

        The A330-900neo can replace the 777-200.
        Interesting would be a A330-1000. Why isn’t that considered?

          • No, a A330-1000 won’t reach the 777-300, but there are much more orders for the A330-900 than the -800, so I think there could be a market for a -1000.
            Kind of the same why the A220-300 sells better than the A319.

            I think there is a weight advantage for a narrow fuselage per pax. Though the A330neo is heavy because it’s an old design, but if it’s cheap.

          • @Leon
            My error, I read over your jump from A350 to A330.

            The -500/_-600_ subtypes of the A340 family ailed on weight gain due to suboptimal fuselage fineness afair.

      • @Travel

        None US airline ordered 777x.

        Half of 777x orders are from Big 3 MEA, or Big 2 actually.

        • As the 777 is in the VLA segment, I’d suggest the business case for the aircraft revolves around the 777X, 777F and to a lesser extent the 777-300ER. As such, I consider all these aircraft to be part of one program.

          Of the 25 customers 10 of them have less than five aircraft on order, so we can assume, in the not too existent future the customer count could drop to close to fifteen.

          I think we also have to remember there will be airlines waiting to order this aircraft. For argument sake, QANTAS could use the 779 on the PER-LHR route if they decide the route justifies a jump in capacity over the 789.

          United still have four 777-300ER’s on order.

          With world affairs being as they are, surge in wide body deliveries (787, A330, A350 & soon 777X) it could be a while before we see orders return to this aircraft.

  5. Boeing probably is using the FAUB machine which is designed to work with the European electrical system of 220-240Volts@50 Ohm? Never know with these Geniuses.

    • That should be …. @50 Hz …Nth America runs on 60Hz frequency …Europe on 50 Hz
      And yes if they did use a European system designed for 50 Hz in Nth America they would have serious problems!

    • Ohm? Hz. Unless the is a frequency sensitive item such as a motor, it should not make a difference.

      • So what happens to every contol cct/device in logic controllers etc that rely on the base frequency of 60Hz for timing and counting purposes when you want to connect them to a 50Hz power supply?
        That motors will overheat is a given … the only way out is to purchase a very expensive inverter that must be sized to your machine electrical requirements.

        • IMU it is a US thing to be unable/unwilling to cope with “elsewhere” system requirements. ( Like (not) providing RHD subtypes in places that drive on the left ).

        • No modern control system, or even old ones, takes the main frequency of 50 or 60Hz as a frequency reference. That’s what crystal oscillators are for. The mains, though it may have a legally mandated number of cycles per 24 hours (such as it does in the UK, which makes it good enough for clocks) isn’t necessarily very stable short term.

          Japan, with has both 50Hz and 60Hz mains, is slight bonkers in doing so (some legacy post WW2 I gather), but this causes no problems whatsoever.

        • Programable Logic controllers have a crystal reference for time, date, counting and timing functions and are mostly networked anyway and time is distributed an synchronised over ethernet. When you set up the analogue input of a PLC you configure it to sample to filter out power line noise at 50Hz, 60Hz or 400Hz. The 400Hz is the aviation frequency and I’ve seen it used in motor-generators/alternators on modern IBM machine to provide isolation from lighting lightning strikes and EMP. Its hard for a voltage or electrical disturbance to jump across a shaft about 60cm long, German aviation and the V2 used 500Hz in Ww2. There are some other odd ball frequencies around. Niagra Falls hydro was at 25Hz, easier to synchronise. The Railways system used in German Speaking and Nordic countries is 16.666.. Hz (A third of 50Hz) because 150 years ago its voltage could be adjusted by a sliding tap variable transformer and the resulting electricity run into a series would DC motor (more correctly called a universal motor) which would work with AC at the low frequencies.
          Most automation uses 24VDC for the instrumentation and controls with the 24VDC generated by power supplies happy to take either 120/240 at 50/Hz/60Hz. There would be a number of ways of dealing with the servo drives used on the KUKA robots. Change motors, use a close enough voltage or transformers. The variable speed drives should handle it.

      • Isnt the US domestic single phase supply still the 120V, and the downshot is that commercial power is 208V rather than the 415V in other countries.

        The only noticeble affect is US household kettles take forever to boil

          • When I looked it up, they said the most common commercial US 3 phase supply is 120/208.
            Major industrial plants will have 277/480 system

    • The European electrical system was 3 phase 50Hz 220/280, except the UK which was 3ph 50Hz 240/415. They have now mostly compromised to 230/400 VAC 50HZ but may be after Brexit we can all go back to normal.

      The US has 120/208 (3ph 60Hz) used in light commercial(rare) and also 277/480 (3ph 60Hz) for industrial and air-conditioning. Don’t get me started on earthing.

      There is also a 1 phase 60hz 120/240VAC made up of two 120VAC supplies in phase. This is most common in residential.

  6. It’s a case of don’t kick people when they are down. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Boeing.

    Narrow body

    We are told the MAX will be a success after return to service. Even if allowed to return to service it won’t be a success. Airbus are moving towards 60% of the market, but if it’s done on seat count they are beyond 60% of the market. Time for an LNA analysis of future market share on seat count?

    Airbus have the A321, Boeing have no equivalent. Airbus will launch the A322. Airbus will also launch the A220-500. They will move towards 70% of the seat count in the narrow body market by 2025. China and Russia will add seat count.

    Boeing will become a minor seller of narrwo bodies even if the MAX is allowed to return.


    The 787 is a good airplane. But it’s matched by the A330neo. The A330neo is cheap to produce. The A350 is far better than the 787 but expensive. But the A350 will get cheaper as the manufacturering process matures.

    But then we come to the 777X. It’s not better than the A350. As the A350 moves on the differential will be even greater. So the 777X must be sold cheaply to be competitive against the A350. When the A350 is re-engined, the 777X is done.


    The A350 wing is automated with regard to repetitive work. The automation is moving to other wings. The A320 fuselage is now automated with regard to repetitive work. It will move to other fuselages. Yes there are issues, but it’s happening. It will get better day by day.

    Where are Boeing. Nowhere.

    The carbon future

    Out of autoclave carbon is happening. To give an example, GKN have reported lighter and stronger carbons using out of autoclave carbon. Still someway to go but it’s happening. Circa 2025 is reasonably.

    When out of autoclave happens, it will allow mass production of carbon. It will prove that frames and panels are better than barrels. The frames and panels will then be married to automation.

    Who will do it? Airbus will do it. Others will do it. Boeing are nowhere.

    The metallic composite future

    This is the future for materials that need to be very strong. Metallic composites are at the molecular level. In other words they are not strips of metal and strips of non-metals.

    For example, an aluminium composite that is 30% lighter than aluminium but stronger than titanium. A titanium composite that is the 30% lighter than titanium but stronger that steel. It’s out there. But it’s happening.

    Who will do it? Not Boeing. This is way out of their league.

    Boeing need new blood. But it won’t happen until they know they have a problem.

    • Boeing won’t be competitive.

      I wonder how much power DeFazio has, he said 40 Boeing 787 were built without certification (cooper foil in the wings), then the MAX rudder cable issue, it seems he wants to clean it up. Obviously FAA decisions in the past were made by politics.
      I expect nothing will change, US will run Boeing deeper into the ground.
      Even with all this cheating Boeing is not competitive.

    • “It’s a case of don’t kick people when they are down. ”

      My impression up to now was that extra kicking when down was a cultural requirement in the US? ( at least when you are not the “down” part. with role reversal the tone changes apparently 🙂

  7. I believe Electo Impact built this.

    If they can’t do it maybe its just too complex at this point.

    Electro Impact would have been the one making it work not Boeing.

    Good robots are even harder to find (make) than good people!

    • 777-X fuse is derived from and presumably similar to the classic, it wasn’t designed with robots in mind, so automation was never going to be easy. I guess with so few orders the cost of getting it right was too much. AB’s looking at 70×A320 month, how many will 777-X get up to?

      However I agree with Scott that BA need answers, not only because of the cost of skilled labor, but because it is a vanishing commodity in WA state.

      • I think substantial differences, its a Aluminium-Lithium alloy, largest windows of an airliner including B787 and the interior is substantially wider and of course the wing box must be completely new.

        • Wondering how different it can be and still get grandfathered. Agree about the wing box but have to suspect the rest of the fusilage to still have a lot of jobs and rivet placements that are hard to access.

        • The 777X is the same fuselage width as the previous 777 models 19 ft 3 in. The extra few inches of elbow room comes from a narrower circumferential ring frames only in the mid seat height area. It’s a clever fix but only a tiny amount when you are talking 19 feet. Replace substantial by minimal when referring to construction process.
          The fuselage wing box section wasn’t included in the FAUB process.

    • Electroimpact was not responsible for FAUB. FAUB was built by Kuka Systems America (now a part of Advanced Integration Technology aka AIT).

      In the same factory as part of a different scope of work, Electroimpact uses Kuka Robots (like many other integrators) on the Mid-body fuselage fastening. The Electroimpact project has robots on the outside but relies on operators for the inside. The Electroimpact project makes rate according to the Seattle Times:

    • It is probably very hard to get robots do most of the work on aicrafts not designed to be built by robots. Cars are designed for this from the 1980’s better and better for volume models with limited options. Hence it will be easier programming for new aircrafts designed and tested for robot build. One problem is reprogramming when structures and installed parts are modified thru SB’s and robots have to adjust. So ww might have to live with problems longer and incorporate at MRO’s instead. The mods will roll in at block updates, like when cars change models.

  8. Also keep in mind the scale.

    The bigger it is the worse a miner error is at the far end.

    What may be acceptable 1/32 off in 20 feet it 1/8 off in 40 and by the time you get to 200 feet 3/8.

  9. The FAUB failure is associated to the use of “one-inside fuselage and one-outside fuselage” robots working in sync. That is NOT what Airbus is doing, according to the video and pictures they have published lately about the A321 production in Hamburg (in addition to the flex-track process, they are also using there only one outside robot, and not sure these are rivets, they could be using other type of fastener, which makes the process easier and eliminates the challenging rivet “hammering” or forming step).
    In the FAUB process, the inside robot was performing the “bucking bar” portion of the riveting process, while the outside robot was drilling, sealing, inserting and hammering (forming) the rivet in place.
    According to some information, automation of the riveting process was tried out for military airplanes at Boeing, and it failed. Comments about this were made by Electroimpact’s CEO recently (this is a supplier of robots that are also used by Boeing, but they are not riveting robots, they only drill and insert the fastener, and mechanics apply torque to complete the process). https://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2019/11/14/boeing-777x-warning-inside-outside-robots-fail.html

    • It that is the case then Airbus are using Countersunk(Flush) Blind rivets. IE some kind of explosive or pop rivet. There must be some kind of filler applied to smooth over. Boeing are using a standard rivet that needs to have a bucking tool held on the other side. I assuming this method produces a lighter and perhaps stronger rivet. It looks like the robots can’t replicate what the humans are doing. The rivet and rivet tooling tooling will need to be redesigned.

        • Funny you should ask

          ‘ In 1960s, the Boeing Company firstly conducted research in EMR to meet the technique challenges in pneumatic riveting, and then developed the first handheld high-voltage EMR system in 1971.25″

          The above is only part of the story- and very misleading

          The first EMR test lightweight C-frame driving 1/4 inch a286 and titanium rivets and slugs was designed, built, and used for test purposes in small and large test panels (approx 3 ft x 6 ft skin- stringer ) was in 1968-69. And NOT invented by hank Schut and Jag . True they did take the information developed by the C- frame ( and an earlier ” desktop test unit ” which used opposing coils and driver plates firstput together in early 1968. Used a NASA 5000 nomiman volt poweer supply developed for a single coil on a shovel handle for banging out dents on saturn 5 program.
          The problem was that since that work was done on the then Boeing SST program with some federal funds, and derived patents would be public, etc .

          So after test data on the large test skin panel showed great fatigue improvement, the EMR concept and work and data and supervisor and manager were moved to Auburn on commercial program- and supervisor and manager later 1973-74 got the patents.

          Later, Peter Zieve was studying for his doctorate at UW – and Boeing had tasked the UW to do detailed research on making a low voltage system. Thus was born electroimpact.

          How do I know this – simple – I was the person who coined the term EMR, and did the basic design and testing while on the SST program. The I worked for the supervisor and manager involved. When SST folded, I was laid off. Came back after the patents were filed.

          Does Peter Z know this – yes he does- since several years ago I provided documentation provin all the above- and he has given me a personal tour of his factory in everett- And I have a photo of peter and myself taken by one of his staff with the electroimpact factory in the background. I was part of a tour ( long story) and when I found out where the tour was going- I contacted him- thus while the tour went in one direction, he took me thru other areas NOT available to any tour.

          Small world …

        • @Bubba.

          I find it fascinating that the range of western primary publications visible all reference some definitive Soviet/Russian work.
          Is this another case of researched in depth elsewhere but “invented” in the US ? 🙂

          • NOPE-look up the details on the patents- my name is NOT on any Look at the Orr et al patent
            My photos and drawings of the lightweight c frame are actually dated 1967-68
            There are also related patents by a Basil leftharis- ( he called it stresswave ) at the time he was at grumman and I had travelled there since grumman was part of the SST program

            I am not aware of preceeding public work on riveting by dual coils and reaction mass effects.

            U.S. Patent, 3704506, Orr et al, issued 12/72
            U.S. Patent, 3559269, Schmitt, issued 2/71

            Inventors: La Vern G. Orr, Auburn; Nobuo
            Yutani, Seattle, both of Wash.
            Assignee: The Boeing Company, Seattle,
            Filed: Aug. 1, 1968

            Hubert A. Schmitt, Auburn, Wash., and Jagdish S. Sekhon,
            Torrance, Calif., assignors to The Boeing Company,
            Seattle, Wash.
            Filed Nov. 15, 1968, Ser. No. 776,014

            Also was some work late 1968 byn AVCO in Boston on developing high energy coils-system for up to 100,000 lbs equiv force via EMR concepts

    • Automated riveting process for standard, 1-piece rivet was done at the C-17 for many years. It is still done on commercial aircraft as well.
      As shown below, the machine doing this for many, many years was the “NC 503 Broetje Robotic Flexible Assembly Cell”.
      Equipment was auctioned off, picture on lower left hand side.

      Peter Z. the Electroimpact CEO might have still been miffed that he didn’t win that contract back then, well we went with their competitor….

  10. If one looks at both Airbus’s and Boeing’s FAUB robots then you see that they are both using standard articulated robots seen in car factories, both from KUKA (KUKA, a German company, is regarded as the best Robot company in the world and somewhat sadly for the West is now in the hands of Chinese owners. No doubt the tech will find its way into Airbus’s Tianjing factory and spread out from there). These riveting/fastener machines run on rails on the bottom of the cargo hold and apply rivets from the inside, larger robots external to the aircraft do so there. This is a no brainer job for robots (riveting, sport welding, palletising and lifting into position) is what they have been doing in the automotive industry for 40 years or more.

    With robots there are issues of safety (avoiding crush injuries to humans, they are very powerful), developing the gripper or head assembly that applies the rivets and fasteners and may have a variety of sensors including machine vision, confirming and documenting that the weld/rivet has been placed properly. Perhaps Boeing’s labour costs are less than Airbus’s due to tax, wage and on cost differences and it just doesn’t make as much sense. Then there are differences between the setup costs for an A320 (production 60/month heading to 100) and a B777 (production rate about 5/month I imagine). There is also the issue of personnel turnover. I’ve been in the Automation industry for decades and it requires mature, experienced older workers with a fairly linear distribution of age to bring in young blood. You need the technical experience, you need the understanding of how to conduct a large project from a engineering, drawing office management, quality control and software structure point of view. I’m just wondering if its a personnel turnover point of view in Boeing.

    FAUB must be irrelevant on A B787 due to the composite airframe. I understand that scaling down to smaller aircraft means a composite wing and lithium fuselage makes more sense. Surely the advantage is so marginal as to be worth ignoring. The are vast numbers of all composite small aircraft.

    • Just a comment about your post: Airbus is NOT using inside of the fuselage robots, they are using almost the same outside robot configuration as Boeing used in FAUB, EXCEPT, they are NOT installing cold formed rivets, therefore they don’t need the inside robot. Boeing’s FAUB setup included 2 robots working in sync, one outside and one inside,for the installation of cold formed rivets. This is an IMPORTANT difference, because the cold forming installation of rivets offered some complications that eventually, could not be overcome by Boeing.

      • You have _one_ robot that needs to be precise in positioning for making an initial hole.
        The complementing robot does not need to be precise in absolute terms but _exact in finding the current work hole
        and positioning relative to that_ .
        Reasonable Simple.

        • Actually- using hand held Electroimpact riveters bothn inside and outside, along with track drillingmof holes and simple support arms for weight of riveters both inside and outside would go a long way to reduciing noise, improving bucked rivets and virtuallyn eliminating location issues

          Such hand held units of initial high voltage design were used on early 747s in the 1970’s on the inner wing panels because the gemcor riveters could not reach due to too small ( depth) of C frames

          But of course we could not use ‘old methods ‘ on new airplanes- beancounters not born until after 1970 object

    • Some years ago, about the time they decided to put a FAL in Alabama, an Airbus boss implied that USA is THE low labour cost place to be in aerospace. As you noted, BA’s labour costs less, so for 777 hands on might well be cheapest.

    • Not necessarily a lithium fuselage , there as been research done on A320 sized fuselages with Fibre Metal laminate panels, one of the subtypes is GLARE as used on the A380 upper fuselage. That’s my prediction for an NMA with maybe a Al-Li fuselage belly

      • Many many years ago – aluminum lithium alloys were considered for some parts on 777. My recollection is that some were eventually used oninternal floor beams. One area of concern was some **apparent** issues with micro- cracks around discontinuities.

        As to glare- its simply an updated version of ‘ coldbonding” tried and used by Boeing over 50 years ago but discontinued due to moisture and corrosion problems

  11. I could see a coordinated US Government / Boeing strategic intervention, if the numbers and assumptions we are currently looking at (backlogs, cost levels, balance, cash flow, out looks, deffered costs) prove incomplete / optimistic and things threathen to go South. To protect US interests.

    • You mean a government subsidy: what about the WTO rules that Boeing invokes regularly?

      • WTO does allow govt loans- subsidies for some things- Look up most of the details in GATT92..

  12. What? After all the reading about time and effort to develop FAUB…it’s done? Am I to assume that FAUB is dead – that at least a technological piece or two can’t be applied to the 777 or other programs? That would be crazy! And it would demonstrate an incredible lack of foresight and planning.

    • Not done. Not a good idea to continuate on this specific program given all circumstances. The train moves on & there will be other applications.

      • Denver tried an automated luggage handling system.

        I almost got to go down and work on it!

        They abandoned it as costing more to make work than hiring people to handle the baggage.

        Hard part is sorting out when its just not going to work.

        Admitting failure is actually a healthy sign.

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