Digital Manufacturing Process Gives 75% Quality Improvement
The first US section of the first Boeing/Saab RED HAWK advanced trainer has officially begun rolling down Boeing’s production line, the company announced in late February.
Under its full USAF designation of eT-7A – reflecting its digital heritage – the aircraft was designed using 3D model-based definition and data management systems developed at Boeing over the last two decades. The eT-7A RED HAWK employs the digital engineering and design of the Boeing T-X aircraft, that went from firm concept to first flight in just 36 months.
“The future of air dominance lies in the ability to move quickly, take smart risks and partner in new ways to get the job done,” explained Shelley Lavender, Boeing Senior VP of Strike, Surveillance and Mobility. “By creating aircraft and systems along a digital thread, we can accelerate build times and increase quality and affordability for our customers in a way that has never been done before.”
The Advanced Pilot Training System also incorporates leading-edge ground-based live and virtual simulators, to give students and instructors a ‘real as it gets’ experience.
In September 2018, the USAF awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion (€7.6 billion) contract to supply 351 advanced trainer aircraft and 46 associated ground-based training simulators. Saab is teamed with Boeing on the trainer and provides the aft fuselage of the jet.
“This is a historic moment for the program and industry,” commented Chuck Dabundo, Boeing VP of T-7 Programs. “The build process leverages full-size determinant assembly, which allows technicians to build the aircraft with minimal tooling and drilling during the assembly process. The digital process accounts for a 75% increase in first-time quality.”