SINGAPORE 2016: Airplane Development Group proving worth at Boeing

Boeing is reaping the rewards of rearranging the way it brings new aircraft to market via its Airplane Development Group, with programmes not just staying on track but actually getting ahead of the planned schedule.

Scott Fancher, senior vice-president and general manager, Airplane Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, outlined his Group’s committment to: delivering value; reducing risk; producibility; and reliability. “We focus on the art of aircraft development,” he emphasised.

Fancher gave the 737 MAX programme as a good example of the Group’s success. “The recent first flight was the ‘end game’ of the build experience. First flights are always fun, more so when they’re flawless – and even more fun when they’re early. We scheduled a day 4 years ago for the flight and flew three days before that,” he reported enthusiastically.

“The second flight was the next day – and we’ve looked in the Boeing archives and couldn’t find a record of a second flight of a new model being on the second day [of the flight test programme],” he continued. “In fact, we flew on five of the first six days, with one day off for a planned configuration change. Already we are about ready to complete stability and control testing and to enter flutter testing. Also, the engine performance is actually a little bit better than where it was planned to be.”

On the production side, the second 737 MAX is now finished, with the third and fourth aircraft on the line. “The aircraft is showing that integration into the production system will be flawless,” Fancher declared. “In fact, we’re on track for the possibility of getting certification slightly early.”

The VP admitted that lessons had been learned from experiences with the 787. “Development [such on the 787] is always difficult because we’re always trying to reach furher with technology. We’re now harvesting the new technology from the last decade, which we’d probably pushed hard on the 787.”

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/

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