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Boeing today said development of the 747 Large Cargo Freighter is proceeding according to plan and the modified freighters will be ready to support final assembly of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2007.
“We have a top-notch team of engineers working to design what will be one of the most unique airplanes flying,” said 787 Vice President of Manufacturing and Quality Scott Strode. “This kind of modification is an engineer’s dream. It’s an extremely challenging project, and it’s essential to the success of the Dreamliner.”
Boeing announced last week the critical “swing zone” of the freighter, the part of the Large Cargo Freighter’s aft fuselage that opens to allow loading and unloading of the 787’s large composite structures, is being designed in partnership with Gamesa Aeronautica of Spain. Gamesa is the first Spanish supplier supporting the Dreamliner program.
Boeing also said today that engineers from Boeing Rocketdyne, located in Canoga Park, Calif., are assisting its structural design team in Everett, Wash., with changes to the Large Cargo Freighter’s cockpit area, the only part of the airplane that will be pressurized. Strode said the work is focused on modifications to the upper and lower decks, and relocation of several systems in the forward section of the aircraft.
Engineers at the Boeing Design Center in Moscow are helping design the freighter’s enlarged upper fuselage and rear fuselage, as well as the main cargo deck floor and “transition zone” that marries the new structure to the existing airplane structure. The expanded girth of the Large Cargo Freighter will hold three times the cargo by volume of the 747-400 freighters flying today.
The design supplier for the pressure bulkhead that joins the cockpit area to the fuselage will be named after contracts are finalized. No design changes are necessary to the freighter’s wings, and Boeing engineers will extend the airplane’s vertical fin by five feet to aid the pilots’ control during flight.
The Large Cargo Freighter team achieved firm configuration of the airplane in October. Once the detailed design work is completed, the components will largely be provided by current 747 suppliers, Strode said. Those parts will then be shipped to Taipei, where the airplanes will be modified by Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation (EGAT), a joint venture between EVA Air and General Electric, and part of Taiwan ‘s Evergreen Group.
Systems updates will be provided by the existing 747 suppliers.
Boeing has decided the airplane will remain without a livery until an operator for the airplanes is chosen later this year. “We know Boeing will not operate these airplanes,” Strode said. “We are talking with a number of interested parties, and we expect that branding of the airplane will be part of the negotiation process.”
Two Large Cargo Freighters will be needed to support initial 787 production. Two 747-400s that will be converted to the new configuration were purchased by Boeing last year. Boeing continues looking for a third airplane that will enter service later. Certification of the first Large Cargo Freighter will occur in 2006, with the airplane returning to service in 2007 to support final assembly of the first Dreamliners.
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