Boeing Frontiers
July 2003
Volume 02, Issue 03
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Integrated Defense Systems

V-22 factory finished

New facility design helps production stay ‘focused’


Before and AfterAfter an investment of $30 million for a new fuselage assembly center in Philadelphia, the revolutionary V-22 aircraft has a state-of-the-art home that will help pay dividends in quality and cost for years to come.

On June 2, more than 1,000 people, including customers, program personnel, local government officials and employees, gathered at the new facility for a dedication ceremony. The event marked the end of more than a year of work to renovate the new area and relocate the old line.

The new "focused factory," designed with Lean Manufacturing principles, features a paperless engineering system, straight-line flow, feeder lines and point-of-use delivery of all parts and tools. It also is located closer to the site's Composites Center, the source of the aircraft's outer skin and more than 500 of its internal components.

Pat Shanahan, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems vice president and general manager, Rotorcraft Systems, said the driving force behind these improvements and a host of others has been teamwork and Employee Involvement.

"The design, construction and operation of our new factory are the products of intense participation and teamwork by every organization at every level," he said during the ceremony. "We recognize and honor the spirit of working together."

Construction of the new 160,000-square-foot factory began in March 2002, after several months of layout design and development of a plan to make the move without interrupting production. Thanks to careful planning, Boeing IDS delivered all nine fuselages in 2002 on schedule to industry partner Bell Helicopter Textron and is on track to deliver 11 this year. Designed with future growth in mind, the newest Boeing assembly line can support up to four aircraft per month.

Previously used as a warehouse, the new area has received a major facelift since its groundbreaking. And although the new factory sits just across the street from its old location, the differences between the two facilities are worlds apart.

One glance at the line's modern interior makes it clear that Boeing is serious about the V-22, the employees who build it and the warfighters who will use it. With co-located program personnel, greatly improved lighting and a climate-controlled environment, the new production area ushers in the future of rotorcraft production. The CH-47 Chinook program, also located in Philadelphia, will follow in the Osprey's footsteps later this year when it unveils a single-flow line of its own.

"This new facility is critical to the future of the V-22 program," said Dan Korte, Boeing IDS V-22 program manager. "It's our responsibility to do whatever it takes to deliver high-quality aircraft to the customer. The new line, along with Bell Helicopter's final assembly center in Texas, will help us meet and exceed customer expectations."

Employees have been working in the new facility since February, when the first tooling made its way from the old area. And now that they have settled into their new digs, they already are seeing production improvements.

Brett Mackrell, Boeing IDS supervisor of V-22 Assembly and Integration, explained that his team could finish an aft section in the old facility in 18 days and 1,800 labor hours. In comparison, the new facility has trimmed eight days and more than 800 labor hours per section from the cycle time.

Jim Cucchi, V-22 aft section Employee Involvement team leader, added, "It's encouraging to see the company invest in the site's future. Everyone had an opportunity to participate in the design of the new line, and the improvements we've seen so far are just the beginning."

The V-22 program has made great strides at all levels, from the shop floor to Capitol Hill, since returning to flight 13 months ago. On May 20, a U.S. Defense Acquisition Board review, led by former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Edward "Pete" Aldridge, recognized the program for its commitment to fielding a safe and reliable aircraft and gave it the approval it needed to continue its flight-test program.

"I commend the V-22 Osprey team for its disciplined management of the restructured program," Aldridge said in a commendation letter to the program. "The team's efforts have paved the way for the eventual fielding of this much-needed capability to the warfighter."

With government backing, customer confidence, state-of-the-art facilities and dedicated program personnel, the V-22 program is poised for success. After all, it's meant to fly, high above the clouds, much like its winged namesake.


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