Boeing scraps robots in favour of humans for 777X project

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood November 15, 2019 12:50

Boeing scraps robots in favour of humans for 777X project

Boeing is scrapping one of its biggest automation projects after four years of testing in favour of skilled mechanics.

The company will dump the robots that build two main fuselage sections for its 777 jetliners and an upgraded version known as the 777X. It will now refer to skilled mechanics to manually insert fasteners into holes drilled along the circumference of the airplane by an automated system known as “flex tracks,” which it has honed over years of use on the 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing made the change to use humans on the project during the second quarter of this year. However, there won’t be any change to its staffing levels at its Everett, Washington plant.

Its fully automated initiative – known as FAUB was used for fuselage automated upright build, which relied on robots working in tandem to drill holes precisely and fasten together metal panels held upright to create the outer frame of the hulking twin-engine jets.

However, robots struggled to move in sync creating production issues. The company said its robot experiment wasn’t a complete loss stating it learned some valuable lessons.

When it takes its first flight next year, the 777X will be Boeing’s largest-ever jetliner. Delays have taken place on its production because of General Electric Co.unearthed a durability issue with its GE9X engines. 

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood November 15, 2019 12:50