Tag Archives: Renton

Boeing begins final assembly of the first 737 MAX

Boeing (Chicago, Seattle and Charleston) employees in Renton, Washington, have started final assembly on schedule of the first 737 MAX 8, the first member of Boeing’s new, more efficient single-aisle family.

After the first fuselage arrived on August 21 from Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, Kansas, mechanics began installing flight systems and insulation blankets.

Crews next moved the fuselage to the wing-to-body join position on the new production line where the first MAXs will be built. Mechanics then attached the wings to the body of the airplane.

The wings feature Boeing’s new Advanced Technology winglets. Designed exclusively for the 737 MAX, they will give customers up to 1.8 percent additional fuel-efficiency improvement over today’s inline winglet designs.

Boeing will build the first 737 MAXs exclusively on the new production line in the Renton factory. Once mechanics prove out the production process, the team will extend MAX production to the other two final assembly lines in Renton.

The 737 MAX team remains on track to roll out the first completed 737 MAX by the end of the year and fly it in early 2016. Launch customer Southwest Airlines is scheduled to take delivery of the first 737 MAX in the third quarter of 2017. In total, the 737 MAX family has 2,869 orders from 58 customers worldwide.

Photos: Boeing.

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Boeing brings the first 737 MAX fuselage to Renton

Boeing 1st Boeing 737 MAX Fuselage

Boeing (Chicago, Seattle and Charleston) on Friday (August 21) brought the first 737 MAX fuselage to the Renton, WA plant. The fuselage was built in Wichita, KS and transported by rail to the Washington State plant.

Boeing 737 Customers 1

Boeing 737 Customers 2

Boeing explains the production of the Boeing 737 over the years:

Boeing logo (medium)

The first 271 737s were built in Seattle at Boeing Plant 2, just over the road from Boeing Field, (BFI). However, with the sales of all Boeing models falling and large scale staff layoffs in 1969, it was decided to consolidate production of the 707, 727 and 737 at Renton just 5 miles away. In December 1970 the first 737 built at Renton flew and all 737s have been assembled there ever since.

However not all of the 737 is built at Renton. For example, since 1983 the fuselage including nose and tailcone has been built at Wichita and brought to Renton by train. Also much of the sub-assembly work is outsourced beyond Boeing.

Production methods have evolved enormously since the first 737 was made in 1966. The main difference is that instead of the aircraft being assembled in one spot they are now on a moving assembly line similar to that used in car production. This has the effect of accelerating production, which not only reduces the order backlog and waiting times for customers but also reduces production costs. The line moves continuously at a rate of 2 inches per minute; stopping only for worker breaks, critical production issues or between shifts. Timelines painted on the floor help workers gauge the progress of manufacturing.

When the fuselage arrives at Renton, it is fitted with wiring looms, pneumatic and air-conditioning ducting and insulation before being lifted onto the moving assembly line. Next, the tailfin is lifted into place by an overhead crane and attached. Floor panels and galleys are then installed and functional testing begins. In a test called the “high blow”, the aircraft is pressurised to create a cabin differential pressure equivalent to an altitude of 93,000 feet. This ensures that there are no air leaks and that the structure is sound. In another test, the aircraft is jacked up so that the landing gear retraction & extension systems can be tested. As the aircraft moves closer to the end of the line, the cabin interior is completed – seats, lavatories, luggage bins, ceiling panels, carpets etc. The final stage is to mount the engines. There are approximately 367,000 parts on a 737 NG.

The present build time is now just 11 days (5,500 airplane unit hours of work) with a future target of 6 days (4,000 airplane unit hours of work). In Dec 2005 a second production line was opened to increase the production rate to 31 aircraft a month. By 2007 there was a three year waiting list for new 737s, and an order backlog of over 1,600 aircraft. A third production line is under construction dedicated to the MMA order.

After construction they make one flight, over to BFI where they are painted and fitted out to customer specifications. It takes about 200ltrs (50USgallons) of paint to paint a 737. This will weigh over 130kg (300lbs) per aircraft, depending on the livery. Any special modifications or conversions (eg for the C40A, AEW&C or MMA) are done at Wichita after final assembly of the green aircraft. Auxiliary fuel tanks and specialist interiors for VIP aircraft are fitted by PATS at Georgetown, Delaware.

The fuselage is a semi-monocoque structure. It made from various aluminium alloys except for the following parts.

  • Fiberglass: radome, tailcone, centre & outboard flap track farings.
  • Kevlar: Engine fan cowls, inboard track faring (behind engine), nose gear doors.
  • Graphite/Epoxy: rudder, elevators, ailerons, spoilers, thrust reverser cowls, dorsal of vertical stab.

Different types of alluminium alloys are used for different areas of the aircraft depending upon the characteristics required. The alloys are mainly aluminium, zinc, magnesium & copper but also contain traces of silicon, iron, manganese, chromium, titanium, zirconium and probably several other elements that remain trade secrets. The different alloys are mixed with different ingredients to give different properties as shown below:

Fuselage skin, slats, flaps – areas primarily loaded in tension – Aluminium alloy 2024 (Aluminium & copper) – Good fatigue performance, fracture toughness and slow propagation rate.

Frames, stringers, keel & floor beams, wing ribs – Aluminium alloy 7075 (Aluminium & zinc) – High mechanical properties and improved stress corrosion cracking resistance.

737-200 only: Bulkheads, window frames, landing gear beam – Aluminium alloy 7079 (Aluminium & zinc) Tempered to minimise residual heat treatment stresses.

Wing upper skin, spars & beams – Aluminium alloy 7178 (Aluminium, zinc, magnesium & copper) – High compressive strength to weight ratio.

Landing gear beam – Aluminium alloy 7175 (Aluminium, zinc, magnesium & copper) – A very tough, very high tensile strength alloy.

Wing lower skin – Aluminium alloy 7055 (Aluminium, zinc, magnesium & copper) – Superior stress corrosion.

Outsourcing

Many components are not built by Boeing but are outsourced to other manufacturers both in the US and increasingly around the world. This may be either for cost savings in production, specialist development or as an incentive for that country to buy other Boeing products. Here is a list of some of the outsourced components:

  • Fuselage, engine nacelles and pylons – Spirit AeroSystems (formerly Boeing), Wichita.
  • Slats and flaps – Spirit AeroSystems (formerly Boeing), Tulsa.
  • Doors – Vought, Stuart, FL.
  • Spoilers – Goodrich, Charlotte, NC.
  • Vertical fin – Xi’an Aircraft Industry, China.
  • Horizontal stabiliser – Korea Aerospace Industries.
  • Ailerons – Asian Composites Manufacturing, Malaysia.
  • Rudder – Bombardier, Belfast.
  • Tail section (aluminium extrusions for) – Alcoa / Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing, China.
  • Main landing gear doors – Aerospace Industrial Development Corp, Taiwan.
  • Inboard Flap – Mitsubishi, Japan.
  • Elevator – Fuji, Japan.
  • Winglets – Kawasaki, Japan.
  • Forward entry door & Overwing exits – Chengdu Aircraft, China.
  • Wing-to-body fairing panels and tail cone – BHA Aero Composite Parts Co. Ltd, China.

Boeing 737 logo

737 NG Key Production Dates:

17 Nov 1993: Boeing directors authorize the Next-Generation 737-600/-700/-800 program. Southwest Airlines launches the -700 program, with an order for 63 aircraft.

5 Sep 1994: The 737-800 is launched at the Farnborough Air Show.

15 Mar 1995: The 737-600 is launched with an order for 35 from SAS.

28 Apr 1995: The new engine for the Next-Generation 737 family, the CFM56-7, powers up for its first ground test at the Snecma test facility in Villaroche, France.

1 Dec 1995: Major assembly begins on the No. 1 737-700 model when a 55-foot-long spar, or horizontal wing structure, is loaded into an automated assembly tool in the Renton, Wash., factory. Assembly also begins in Wichita, Kan., on the first 737-700 fuselage Section 43 panel (an upper fuselage section).

16 Jan 1996: The CFM56-7, makes its first flight attached to the left-hand wing of a General Electric 747 flying test bed in Mojave, Calif.

20 Mar 1996: The 737-700 program reaches its 90 percent product definition release, marking a major engineering milestone for the new 737 family. The milestone signifies the transition from the development phase to production phase of the program.

22 Apr 1996: The first 737-700 machined wing ribs arrive from Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan. Boeing 737 wing ribs were previously built-up assemblies. The single-pieced machined ribs increase quality and decrease weight.

30 Apr 1996: The first Common Display System for the 737-600/-700/-800 flight deck arrives at the Boeing Integrated Aircraft Systems Laboratory in Seattle. The programmable software display unit allows airlines to easily maintain the flight deck and to tailor it to their specifications.

17 Jun 1996: Assembly begins in Wichita, Kan., on the No. 1 nose, or cab, section for the first Boeing 737-700.

2 Jul 1996: Boeing launch the Boeing Business Jet, derived from the 737-700 model.

15 Jul 1996: Employees at the Boeing Renton, Wash., factory unload the No. 1, left-hand 737-700 wing out of its tooling and move the approximately 50-foot-long structure to its next manufacturing position.

26 Jul 1996: The last major body structure for the first 737-700 fuselage is loaded into the integration tool in Wichita, Kan.

12 Aug 1996: Assembly begins in Wichita, Kan., on the nose section of the first 737-800.

24 Aug 1996: The first 737-700 one-piece fuselage leaves Wichita, Kan., bound for Renton, Wash.

3 Sep 1996: The first completed 737-700 fuselage arrives in Renton, Wash., after travelling nearly 2,200 miles from the Boeing Wichita plant. The first pair of CFM56-7 engines arrive at Propulsion Systems Division in Seattle for engine build-up.

18 Sep 1996: Wings are attached to the first 737-700 fuselage in the Renton, Wash., 737 factory.

6 Oct 1996: The first 737-700 fuselage rolls on its own landing gear to the final assembly area, where flight control surfaces, engine and systems are installed.

7 Oct 1996: The 23-foot, 5-inch vertical tail is installed on the first 737-700. The vertical tail weighs approximately 1,500 pounds.

10 Oct 1996: The horizontal stabilizers are attached to the first 737-700, completing the installation of all major airplane structures.

20 Oct 1996: The second 737-700 fuselage arrives in Renton from the Boeing Wichita plant.

26 Oct 1996: The first CFM56-7 engine is attached to the right wing of the first 737-700. The left-hand engine is installed the next day.

29 Nov 1996: The No. 3. 737-700 arrives in Renton from the Boeing Wichita plant.

2 Dec 1996: The first 737-700 rolls out of the Renton factory and advances into the paint hangar.

8 Dec 1996: The first 737-700 is introduced to the world at The Boeing Company’s Renton, Wash., plant. Nearly 50,000 guests attend the Next-Generation 737 celebration.

9 Feb 1997: The first Boeing 737-700 makes its maiden flight, with Boeing Capts. Mike Hewett and Ken Higgins at the airplane’s controls. At 10:05 a.m. PST, the airplane — painted in the Boeing red, white and blue livery — takes off from Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash., as hundreds of Boeing employees and their families watch and cheer. After heading north over Lake Washington, the pilots fly the newest member of the 737 family north over Tattoosh, east to Spokane and then back to Western Washington before landing at Boeing Field in Seattle.

14 Mar 1997: The fuselage of the first 737-800, destined for German-carrier Hapag-Lloyd, arrives in Renton from Boeing Wichita, after traveling 2,190 miles by railcar. At 129 feet 6 inches in length, the 737-800 is 19 feet 2 inches longer than the 737-700.

11 Apr 1997: The first 737-800 rolls to final assembly for airplane systems, horizontal stabilizer and vertical tail installation.

30 Jun 1997: The first 737-800 debuts at a ceremonial rollout on the north end of the 737 final assembly factory. A crowd of several thousand Boeing Commercial Airplane employees are on hand to witness the premiere of the 129-feet-6-inch airplane — the longest 737 ever built. The first 737-800 is the 2,906th 737 built and the 6,508th commercial airplane built by Boeing in Renton.

31 Jul 1997: The 737-800 makes its first flight, with Boeing Capts. Mike Hewett and Jim McRoberts at the airplane’s controls. At 9 a.m. PDT, the 129-foot, 6-inch 737-800 takes off from Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash., as Boeing employees cheer. After heading north over Lake Washington, the pilots fly north to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and conduct a series of flight tests between there and Tatoosh. Three hours and five minutes later, the airplane lands at Boeing Field in Seattle.

17 Dec 1997: Boeing delivers the first Next-Generation 737-700 to launch customer Southwest Airlines. The event is marked by a brief ceremony at Boeing Field. The airplane later departs for Love Field in Dallas, Texas.

23 Jul 2000: The first Next-Generation 737-900 stars in a ceremonial rollout at the Renton factory. Employees of launch customer Alaska Airlines and Boeing employees who worked on the 737-900 program attend the event.

12 Jan 2001: First production 737 “blended” winglets arrive in Seattle, Wash.

14 Feb 2001: The first shipset of “blended” winglets is installed during production of a Next-Generation 737 at the Renton, Wash. factory.

14 May 2004: The 1,500th Next-Generation 737 is delivered to ATA Airlines. The Next-Generation 737 family reached this milestone delivery in less time than any other commercial airplane family, six years after the delivery of the first model. The Next-Generation 737 bested the previous record holder, the Classic 737 series, by four years.

17 Jan 2005: Final assembly time for Next-Generation 737 is cut to 11 days, making it the shortest final assembly time of any large commercial jet. The feat marks a 50 percent reduction in assembly time since the implementation of Lean tactics began in late 1999.

13 Feb 2006: Delivery of the 5,000th 737.

8 Aug 2006: Rollout of first 737-900ER.

7 Feb 2014 Boeing raise 737 production to 42 aircraft a month

13 Mar 2015 New Panel Assembly Line introduced for building wing panels to reduce 737 assembly time

Top Photo: Jim Anderson/Boeing.

Boeing 737 Operators Slide Show: AG Airline Slide Show

Video:

Boeing starts assembly of the first 737 MAX

737 MAX Production Work at Renton

Boeing (Chicago, Seattle and Charleston) has released this statement and photos:

Boeing logo (medium)

Boeing employees in Renton, Washington, have started building the first 737 MAX on schedule. Last week, employees started to assemble the wings for the first 737 MAX flight test airplane. Wings are the first 737 components to be assembled in the Renton production process.

Machine operators loaded 737 MAX wing skin panels and stringers into the new panel assembly line that uses automation to drill holes and install fasteners in the upper and lower wing panels. Mechanics also loaded the initial parts of the first 737 MAX spars – internal support structures in wings – into automated spar assembly machines. The unfinished skins, stringers and spars were machined by Boeing Fabrication Skin and Spar in Auburn and Fredrickson, Wash. When finished, the panels and spars will be transformed into completed wings.

The wings will be attached to the first 737 MAX fuselage on the new Central line in Renton Final Assembly later this year. The new production line will allow the team to isolate the first 737 MAX build from the rest of production in order to learn and perfect the build process while the Renton factory continues to build at a rate of 42 airplanes a month.

The 737 MAX incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. Beginning in 2017, the new single-aisle airplane will deliver 20 percent lower fuel use than the first Next-Generation 737s and the lowest operating costs in its class – 8 percent per seat less than its nearest competitor. To date, the 737 MAX has 2,720 orders from 57 customers worldwide.

Image Above: Boeing.

Top Photo: Boeing. Machine operator Les Nystrom is loading 737 MAX wing skin panels and stringers into the new panel assembly line that uses automation to drill holes and install fasteners in the upper and lower wing panels. The skins and stringers were machined by Boeing Fabrication Skin and Spar in Auburn and Fredrickson, Washington.

Photo Below: Boeing. Operators (left to right, Bin Pham, Marty Deslauriers and Larry Freeman) load the initial parts of the first 737 MAX spars – internal support structures in wings– into an automated spar assembly machine. The unfinished spars were machined by Boeing Fabrication Skin and Spar in Auburn and Fredrickson, Washington.

Craig Larsen; 737Max; 1st Sparassembly; Renton Factory

Craig Larsen; 737Max; 1st Sparassembly; Renton Factory

Video: Production of the current Boeing 737 Next-Generation family of aircraft:

Boeing opens 737 Interior Configuration Studio

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Boeing (Chicago and Seattle) has debuted its new 737 Configuration Studio, a new facility where airline customers can choose their jetliner interiors. The 20,000 square-foot (1,900 square-meter) studio is located in Renton, Washington near the factory where 42 737s are produced per month.

Similar to the 787 Dreamliner Gallery, the 737 Configuration Studio provides a private and welcoming showroom environment to assist Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX customers with the design and configuration of new airplane interiors.

More than two dozen major interior configuration introductions are expected over the next two years. To help 737 customers select among them, the studio presents views of suppliers’ products side by side in one location. Customers can see, touch and experience choices in galleys, seats and in-flight entertainment. They also can select interior colors and decors that highlight and support their brand.

Additionally, customers can use the 737 Boeing Sky Interior light lab (below) to study how fabrics, carpets, drapes and uniforms appear under various light settings. The facility also houses the “new features room,” which provides customers with a glimpse of future technologies.

Copyright Photos: Boeing.

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The Timetable Chronicles: Ozark Air Lines (Part 2)

Guest Editor David Keller 

Guest Editor David Keller

The Timetable Chronicles: The World of Airline Timetable Collecting

Ozark Air Lines (Part 2)

The latter half of the 1960’s were eventful for the local airlines in general, and Ozark Airlines (St. Louis) was no exception.  Starting with Mohawk’s introduction of the BAC 1-11 in 1965, the local carriers began the process of adding pure-jets to their fleets.  Ozark went a step further, ordering DC-9’s and FH-227B’s to replace its entire fleet of F-27’s, Martin 404’s and the workhorse DC-3’s.  The July 15, 1966 timetable (below) is the first to show DC-9’s in service, with a single aircraft being put to work on a 14 flight schedule that served 7 stations, as indicated by the promotional ad in the timetable.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for the full view and details.

Ozark Airlines: 

The December 1, 1966 timetable (below) shows the addition of the Fairchild FH-227B to Ozark’s fleet.

Service was inaugurated to 11 destinations with this timetable, and 4 additional stations were added 2 weeks later.  The type would eventually number 21 aircraft, one of which was lost in a crash at St. Louis in 1973.  The final revenue service (which I was fortunately able to ride) came on October 25, 1980 as Flight 848 from St. Louis to Chicago with a stop at Peoria.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for the details and the full view.

Another big happening in the local airline world in the late 60’s was the growing shift towards cross-subsidies.  The government had been subsidizing the local carriers to serve points that were generally unprofitable, while profitable routes went to the trunk carriers.  Now that the local carriers were acquiring jets, they had a chance to be competitive against the trunk lines.  Cross-subsidies involved awarding some of those potentially profitable services to the locals, with the idea that those profits could reduce the amount of the subsidies paid for the other operations.  In some cases, authority was given to operate non-stop flights in major markets where stops had previously been required.  Such was the case when Ozark was awarded non-stop authority between St. Louis and Chicago as promoted on the timetable dated October 27, 1968 (below).  By November 15th, the carrier was offering 7 nonstops in each direction.

In other instances, “bypass” routes were awarded from some of the larger local stations to major cities outside of the carrier’s normal area of operation.  Ozark would receive authority to Denver, Dallas, New York and Washington from places like Sioux City, Peoria and Champaign/Urbana.  The route map from the timetable dated October 1, 1970 (below) shows the new services as well as the acquisition of Chicago – Des Moines nonstop authority.

A number of local service airlines tried operating smaller aircraft that were generally considered to be commuter types.  Ozark attempted such a “commuter” operation beginning on March 12, 1972 (below) with Twin Otter service between Springfield, IL and Meigs Field in Chicago.  Flights were operated every 90 minutes on weekdays only.  This became a competition with the much smaller Air Illinois which operated a very similar schedule of flights on the route.  After less than a year, Ozark would drop the service, and Air Illinois would continue to operate the route for a number of years, utilizing an HS 748 for much of that time.

In late 1973 the airline world suffered the shock created by the Arab Oil Embargo.  Fuel quotas were established, and the airlines had to learn how to get by with less.  The impact on the local carriers was not as drastic as the trunk carriers, which removed many of their new but fuel hungry 747’s from service, as well as entire fleets of non-fan Convair 880’s, 707/720’s and DC-8’s.  The local airlines had no widebodies or first-generation aircraft, so their fleets were relatively efficient.

October of 1978 ushered in the event that has done more to shape the airline industry than any other, the Airline Deregulation Act.  This piece of legislation removed many of the barriers faced by airlines applying for authority to serve new routes (which had often been a slow and arduous process), as well as for entities wanting to create new airlines.  The initial result was the award of unused route authority to other airlines willing to provide service.  Florida was a popular choice for new service, and Ozark quickly began service to 4 destinations with their December 15, 1978 timetable (below).

Please click on the map to expand.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. The last OZ color scheme, introduced in 1979.

A number of local carriers were looking at larger equipment to use on the new routes, and a several opted for 727’s (used -100 series aircraft or factory-new 200-series).  For its part, Ozark placed an order for 2 new 727-200’s slated for delivery in late 1979.  Unfortunately, the carrier suffered several work stoppages prior to the arrival of the new aircraft, and determined that they were no longer required given the resulting reductions in traffic.  Although at least one was painted in full Ozark colors, the type never entered service and both were sent off to Pan Am.

Copyright Photo: Robert Woodling – Bruce Drum Collection.

New services in the early days of Deregulation were frequently from stations other than the carrier’s main operations base, which was tied in to the new destinations by the continuation of the flight routings when practical.  As the ability to enter and leave routes was liberalized over the ensuing years, most of the services to new destinations realigned to provide non-stop flights from one of the airline’s chosen hubs, again leaving the outlying stations with only direct or connecting service.  The route map of the October 1, 1985 timetable (below) shows the almost-complete consolidation of routes through the airline’s hub in St. Louis.

This timetable also shows Ozark embracing the “express” concept of code-sharing with commuter airlines to provide service to smaller destinations (which had frequently been dropped by the larger carrier).  In Ozark’s case, a partnership was created with Air Midwest to form Ozark Midwest, which started with service from St. Louis to 15 destinations.

The other impact of Deregulation was the ensuing rash of airline mergers, which in some cases involved a trunk carrier buying up their principal competition.  Such was the case in 1986 when TWA purchased Ozark, ending a proud legacy spanning over 36 years.  The timetable dated August 25, 1986 was the final issue published prior to the merger.

The final “Ozark” timetables were actually issued by TWA following the merger.  At least 3 different Ozark timetables were printed, and I am told that it was due to TWA using the Ozark operating certificate for the DC-9’s until it could be transferred.  (TWA already had MD-80’s, so there was no problem with the larger type.)  Apparently, TWA felt that they needed an “Ozark” timetable if they were operating certain flights as such, and distributed a small number of copies to each station with instructions to hand them out only if asked.  (It makes no sense to me that a timetable was required to support an operating certificate, but that’s the story I was given!)

The April 5, 1987 timetable shows “Ozark” flights to Toledo, a station never actually served by the airline.  Eventually, the certificate was transferred, and Ozark Air Lines disappeared into TWA.

Ozark Airlines: 

Comments can made directly to this WAN blog or you can contact David directly at:

David Keller

email: dkeller@airlinetimetables.com

website: http://airlinetimetables.com

blog: http://airlinetimetableblog.blogspot.com