Boeing executive discusses ins and outs of 787

By Roger Renstrom
Correspondent

Published: May 8, 2013 4:13 pm ET
Updated: May 8, 2013 4:16 pm ET

Image By: Boeing Co. John Tracy, Boeing Co.'s chief technology officer and senior vice president for engineering, operations and technology

Related to this story

Topics Design, Aerospace

LONG BEACH, CALIF. — A senior Boeing Co. executive discussed aerospace material developments and touched on the 787 battery problem during his May 7 keynote address at SAMPE 2013 in Long Beach.

"If you want to put on a new material, it can take up to four years and cost $10 million," said John Tracy, Boeing chief technology officer and senior vice president for engineering, operations and technology.

Concerning material developments, a three-tier vetting process involves evaluating material property, developing design value and validating analysis, he said.

Tracy said ceramic matrix composites represent "the next front" for engine internal-component materials requiring resistance to higher operating temperatures. "Engine makers are investing heavily" in the technology, he said.

Boeing is pursuing use of advanced computational technologies for future material testing and certification procedures, he said.

Greater integration and more functionality will lead to lower weight, less cost and greater damage resistance for airplane structures in the future, he said.

Tracy mentioned Boeing's recent problem with the lithium-ion batteries on the 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The problem grounded all 787s from mid-January to late April.

"Within two weeks, we had a thousand people working" on the problem, he said.

Without going into details, Tracy said Boeing had made "several layers of improvements" in the battery technology.

Boeing has delivered 50 of the 787s and has an order backlog of 840.

"Low-cost, large-scale composites manufacturing technology allows a significant increase in the use of composites on the 787," he said.

Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics account for about 53 percent of the 787's structure; aluminum, 21 percent; titanium, 11 percent; steel, 8 percent; fiberglass, 3 percent; other composites, 2 percent; and Nomex core, 1 percent.

"The materials are very robust" and "toughness drives the design," Tracy said.

In a recent plant visit, Tracy said he observed an Australian supplier using the resin-infusion process to produce flaps for the 787.

Tracy said Boeing forecasts the use of 39,780 commercial aircraft in 2031 vs. the actual 19,890 in 2011.

He said Boeing is working with the Federal Aviation Administration on a clean-engine program.

In a further measure of advancements, Tracy said design improvements have reduced commercial aircraft fuel consumption by 75 percent since the start of the jet-engine era in the 1950s.

Tracy encouraged SAMPE attendees to "pass along the storehouse of knowledge" about composites to the next generation of engineers and technicians.

Tracy said he began his career as a high school teacher, but he was laid off three times in three years. He went to work for Hercules' composites products division and then Douglas Aircraft Co. Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas Corp. in 1997.

Tracy went from the SAMPE podium to fly east for his induction as a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering. The academy recognizes leadership in advanced composites design and manufacturing for air and space vehicles.


Comments

Boeing executive discusses ins and outs of 787

By Roger Renstrom
Correspondent

Published: May 8, 2013 4:13 pm ET
Updated: May 8, 2013 4:16 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

TenCate materials help new amphibious sport aircraft take off

September 22, 2014 4:13 pm ET

TenCate Advanced Composites is supplying materials used in a new consumer sport plane made by ICON Aircraft.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events