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Vought Completes, Delivers First Boeing 787 Aft Fuselage


HARLESTON, S.C.,– Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. today delivered its first composite sections for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, representing 23 percent of the airplane’s entire fuselage structure.

“Today marks a historic milestone for Vought,” said Vice President of Vought’s 787 Division Ted Perdue. “We’ve designed and produced a major portion of the world’s first all-composite aft fuselage for a commercial airliner. Vought has once again demonstrated its expertise as a leader in the development and production of large advanced composite structures. Today is a testament to the capability and excellence of our entire team, and we are extremely proud to be a partner on the 787 program.”

The two aft fuselage sections were initiated as “one piece barrels,” which were wound in Vought’s state-of-the-art composites facility here using advanced fiber placement technology. The barrels were then “stuffed” with further structure and systems components, and joined together with the aft pressure bulkhead to make the end portion of the cabin and the structure that supports the tail.

A custom-made transporter will carry the sections about 200 yards across the parking lot from Vought’s facility to Global Aeronautica, Vought’s joint venture with Alenia North America. There, the completed section will be wrapped and prepared for shipping before being loaded onto the Boeing Dreamlifter and flown to Everett, Wash.

The delivery is the culmination of work that is traced back to 2002 when Vought was named to Boeing’s development team to help provide advanced materials technologies for its next-generation aircraft. A year later, Boeing announced Vought as a structural partner for the Dreamliner, responsible for designing and building aft fuselage sections 47 and 48. Vought’s production activities began last June, on the heels of opening its new 342,000-square-foot manufacturing facility adjacent to the Charleston International Airport.

Aft fuselage section 47 measures 19 feet in diameter and 23 feet long. It is the last passenger section of the 787. Section 48, measuring 14 feet in diameter and 15 feet long, includes the pressure bulkhead and is the first cargo hold section of the airplane.

Vought has fabricated seven aft fuselage production units and one developmental unit since production began in South Carolina last year.

While the 787 is the first commercial airplane to be made primarily of composites, the carbon fiber materials have been widely used in military aircraft, including the B-2, which Vought helped design and manufacture. Other composite structures that Vought builds include the Global Hawk wing, the C-17 horizontal stabilizer and nacelle, and the V-22 fuselage.

Vought has work share on every Boeing jetliner in production, from the 737 to the 777, and has built major structures for the 747 since initial production began in 1968. These include the main fuselage section, doors and the tail section. Vought also builds large wing flaps for the 777 and major subassemblies for the 767, including the center wing section, horizontal stabilizer and aft fuselage.

Since the 787 program was officially launched in April 2004, Boeing has won more than 500 orders from 44 customers. The order pace is the fastest for any commercial airplane in history.

Photo available at : Aft Fuselage


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