Boeing dumps unreliable automation system used for 777 jetliner fuselage manufacture

A key automation system which Boeing has deployed for the manufacture of fuselage sections for the 777 jetliner has been phased out owing to unreliability problems.

Back in 2015 Boeing began the manufacture of the 777’s fuselage in an upright orientation in a system known as fuselage automated upright build (FAUB) which involved robots drilling holes and installing fasteners. However, last year reliability and rework issues led to delays. Boeing has now transitioned to “flex tracks”, which involves the automated drilling of holes along the circumference of the 777 fuselage which are then manually fastened.

According to company spokesman Paul Bergman, the flex tracks system was developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes and had already been tested in commercial and defense programs. The total transition, which was started in the second quarter of the year, should be complete by year end and will have no effect on staffing levels.

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