Just days after the derailment of several coaches that were carrying fuselages as well as important assembly sections of several Boeing 777 and 737 aircrafts near Montana, Boeing has revealed its plans to introduce a brand new method of building fuselages. The method will be employed in Everett production plant and will take a few years to go live. It is being tested currently in the Anacortes facility in Washington.
The new method of fuselage assembly is called FAUB or Fuselage Automated Upright Build. As the name suggests, this is a highly automated process with several guiding robots involved. These robots will replace humans on several important task lines such as drilling holes as well as fastening the panels as well as filling. As of today, more than 60,000 fasteners are done by hand when putting together a fuselage. The move to FAUB will not only save time and be safer for the employees and more efficient way of doing things, but will also ensure minimum safety requirements are met without much hassle. Given the nature of work like drilling and filling, there have been questions raised in the past regarding how it may not be ideal for humans to carry them out, especially in such close proximity as it is required when assembling a fuselage.
This move towards FAUB is one of the several that Boeing has in mind as it moves towards more modern and advanced manufacturing processes for its Boeing 777. Already programs for new painted wings as well as drilling operations have been put in place.
Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 777 program and Everett site, Boeing Commercial Airplanes said of the move:
This is the first time such technology will be used by Boeing to manufacture widebody commercial airplanes and the 777 program is leading the way. We’re excited to continue improving the production process here and we’re positioning ourselves to begin building 777X airplanes in the future.