IAM Members get jets back on track

Working over the weekend, District 751 Members in Everett completed work on the “side-of-body” fix to two more 787s.

The Boeing Co. now has three Dreamliners that have received the repairs — two of them intended to fly, and one of them to be used in ground-based “static testing.” Similar work on the first plane was finished last week.

The work was demanding and required great skill. Machinists in Everett crawled inside the wings of the 787 to install reinforcements at 34 locations along the area where the wings connect to the fuselage of the planes. The reinforcements were pieces of titanium machined by District 751 workers in Auburn.

The fix is intended to solve structural weaknesses found during testing in June, after the Everett workers put together wing and fuselage sections that Boeing had outsourced to suppliers. That resulted in the latest, six-month delay to the first flight of the 787.  

Boeing’s plan now is to complete ground-based testing  of the reworked wing-to-body connection before the end of November, and to take the first Dreamliner on its maiden flight before year’s end, according to 787 vice president Scott Fancher. “We are building momentum with each milestone we achieve,” he said. “This team is focused on its goals and bringing us ever closer to first flight.”

While the 787 team was hitting that milestone, their Union Brothers and Sisters on Everett’s 747 line achieved one of their own — rolling out the first 747-8 last week.

The plane left the factory Thursday, headed for the Everett paint hanger. After that, it will be prepped for flight testing, which is scheduled to start in early 2010. The plane eventually will be delivered to launch customer Cargolux.

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