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.
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.
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.
This is a good question and one for which there isn’t a clear answer.
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.
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.
Nov. 6, 2019, © Leeham News: “It’s not easy to compare the performance of the two companies,” says Guillaume Faury, the CEO of Airbus, when the inevitable comparisons between his company and Boeing are made.
The context was talking about advanced manufacturing, discussed in Part 1 of this interview.
“I don’t think we are behind on digital. I think they might have gained more preparation on the future of production systems. We are catching up big time if not ahead in some important places. I think we will know who’s first when the next generation of airplanes is launched. These will be the first ones with digital design and manufacturing. There’s not a single plane today which is full DDMS.”
The issue is key to the next new airplane produced by Airbus or Boeing.
By Bjorn Fehrm
October 31, 2019, © Leeham News: We have looked into what a reengining of the 767 with GE GEnx engines would give over the last two weeks. FlightGlobal wrote Boeing considers reengining the 767-400ER with the GEnx engine to produce a new freighter and perhaps a replacement for the NMA project.
We analyzed the aircraft fundamentals in Part 1, then passenger and cargo capacities in Part 2 and now we finish with the economics of different possible variants compared with the standard 767 and a possible NMA.
Oct. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Guillaume Faury assumed his office as chief executive officer of the Airbus Group at a time when the company was trying to emerge from years-long scandals over bribery and corruption probes and the industry was only beginning to reel from the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.
Now, he’s focused on guiding Airbus in the future through a series of transformations to put the scandals behind the company, change production for the future and prepare for new airplanes that inevitably must be designed.
Faury’s been with Airbus for 20 years, surrounding a four-year stint with Peugeot from 2009-2013 as EVPO of Research and Development. He was named president of Airbus Commercial in February 2018. He previously was president and CEO of Airbus Helicopters from 2013-2018.
He succeeded CEO Tom Enders, who was not going to be given another term as part of the fallout of the numerous government investigations into past practices at Airbus involving third parties for aircraft sales, bribery and corruption allegations.
Although Enders and CFO Harald Wilhelm initiated the probes and reported the problems to the governments, they along with many others had to go as Airbus tried to limit the damage.
By Bjorn Fehrm
October 24, 2019, © Leeham News: According to FlightGlobal, Boeing is investigating reengining the 767-400ER with GE GEnx engines to produce a new freighter and perhaps a replacement for the NMA project.
By Bjorn Fehrm
October 17, 2019, © Leeham News: FlightGlobal writes Boeing is investigating re-engining the 767-400ER with GE GEnx engines to produce a new freighter and perhaps a passenger aircraft as a replacement for the NMA project. Development costs would be lower and it would be easier to get a business plan which closes for the upgraded 767 than for the NMA.
We commented on the idea earlier in the week and here follows a technical analysis of what re-engining the 767 would bring.
By Bjorn Fehrm
August 1, 2019, © Leeham News: We wrap up our study of what part of an NMA market the Airbus A321XLR could capture with looking at the difference in available engine technology between the A231XLR and the NMA generation of airliners.
By Bjorn Fehrm
July 25, 2019, © Leeham News: We continue our discussion from last week of what part of an NMA market the Airbus A321XLR would capture.
We started the study by comparing the aircraft with a common yardstick. It brought some revealing insights. Now we continue by looking at the airline routes these aircraft can cover and their economics when covering these routes.
By Vincent Valery
July 22, 2019, © Leeham News: Development of single-aisle aircraft that now have ranges of plus-or-minus 4,000 nautical miles are fragmenting hub markets needed to fill large twin-aisle aircraft.
Just as twin-engine widebodies began fragmenting routes needed to fill the Boeing 747 and later the Airbus A380, the Boeing 737-8 and Airbus A321LR/XLR appear to be contributing to weak demand for the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350-1000.
With launch of the Airbus A321XLR last month and expected New Midsize Airplane once the MAX crisis is over, some markets might have structures dramatically altered in the second half of next decade. The prime candidate is the US East Coast–Europe market. We will investigate through historical examples how things might turn out.
By Bjorn Fehrm
July 18, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus’ new A321XLR is labeled as an Boeing NMA killer. It shall, with its capability to fly the same routes as the NMA, nibble away on its market space.
This discussion takes the Airbus passenger and range data for the A321XLR and compares it with the announced capabilities of the NMA. As we will see, it’s not that simple.