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Feature Story

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Small invention, big impact

Installing airplane parts can be a delicate process, and one such process involves a part found on the 787 Dreamliner. It’s called the actuator, a power unit that controls the horizontal stabilizer. Failing to install the part properly can result in big losses of time and money.

An Employee Involvement team, known by their peers as “The Upper Deckers,” came up with a tool to protect the actuator during installation. And since it’s been put into use, there’s been no recorded damage.

Now the Upper Deckers have been recognized for their achievement with the prestigious Boeing Commercial Airplanes Excellence in Quality Award, an award given to employee involvement teams showing initiative to improve quality and reduce costs.

In fact, Rob Burns, a mechanic on the 787 program, says colleagues from around the world want to get their hands on the new tool. “The UK program relations, Charleston, San Antonio, and our airline customers.” And he hints at a project that could make the Upper Deckers repeat winners. “We have a prototype... so we're going to try to do it again next year.”