December 2004/January 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 8 
Commercial Airplanes

Great in the North

Boeing Winnipeg builds its future part by part


Great in the NorthQuestion: What's the largest composite manufacturing company in Canada?

Answer: The Boeing facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

With a relentless focus on providing greater value through innovation and the transformation of its production systems, Boeing Winnipeg is working to become a world leader in the development, design and manufacture of structural composites. Today, 900 employees build composite products for Boeing's Next-Generation 737 and 747, 767 and 777 jetliners, including engine strut forward and aft fairings, wing-to-body fairings, thrust reverser block doors, landing gear doors, bullnose fairings, cascade rings, and miscellaneous ducts and chines.

In November 2003, Winnipeg was selected as a major structures partner to provide lifecycle support for the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner. Responsibilities include the design, manufacturing and support of the wing-to-body fairing, main landing gear doors, as well as the crown and vertical fin fairings. Additionally, the Winnipeg site holds manufacturing responsibility for the forward and aft pylon fairings for engines provided by Rolls-Royce and GE for 7E7 customers.

"Part of the lean enterprise strategy is to have engineering, production, supplier management and customer support aligned and globalized," said Mark Ross, the site's general manager. "The 7E7 is our first program where we have had complete alignment. We feel that winning work on the 7E7 is our reward for eight years of dedicated effort to integrate Lean manufacturing principles into the production system."

To prepare for the new program, Boeing Winnipeg employees are working together to implement the "factory of the future"—a plan to organize the factory in Lean work cells by product line. This effort will not only improve productivity on existing programs but also will allow Winnipeg to absorb 7E7 work without building additional facilities.

Boeing in Canada

Boeing contributes approximately $1 billion (Canadian) annually to the Canadian economy. For a look at Boeing's activities in Canada, visit frontiers/i_ca.html on the Boeing Frontiers Web site.

The move follows the engine strut forward fairing department's successful implementation about a year ago of cellular manufacturing for its work on Next-Generation 737 components. While it wasn't Winnipeg's first Lean cell, it was the first where composite lay-up and assembly were linked and on moving lines. The team subsequently achieved reductions in lead time of 35 percent, reduced factory space by 44 percent and cut the cost of rework, repair and scrap by 50 percent. Productivity was improved by 40 percent.

While big changes like this are necessary to help Boeing compete, Ross said, it isn't always easy. There are growing pains as people adjust. His management challenge is to find the best ways to support the team's efforts.

"This team is relentless in challenging us to get the support systems in place and, working together, we will meet that challenge," he said. By 2006, all components produced by Boeing Winnipeg will be organized into manufacturing cells by airplane program. Ross added: "Moving lines and cellular manufacturing are our future, and the team has demonstrated the future is bright."

Technology: Road map to success

The Manufacturing Research and Development and Engineering Design teams at Boeing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, are actively seeking ways to apply technology to achieve savings over traditional composite manufacturing processes.

Reinforced thermoplastic lamination is one example. RTL uses a press to form multiply solid laminates. Parts produced using the RTL process offer the same performance characteristics as traditional hand lay-up composite material at a much-reduced cost. Boeing Winnipeg currently produces wing slat flex tabs for the 777 programs using this process, and is the only Commercial Airplanes manufacturing site with RTL approval. The business unit now is examining other parts that might be converted to RTL.

Mark Ross, Winnipeg site general manager, said one goal is to build some of Winnipeg's least complex parts, such as solid laminates, more cost effectively by using RTL. That way, skilled employees can be freed up to build more complex, contoured composites that require traditional hand lay-up. "Using technology appropriately is a key piece of our business plan," Ross said.

—Rick Jensen



Boeing and Canada have a long and distinguished history, beginning with William Boeing’s historic first international mail flight between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle in 1919. This relationship has grown through the years to include a network of Canada-based Boeing facilities and suppliers, with a diverse portfolio of commercial, military and space products and services.

Today, Boeing contributes approximately $1 billion (Canadian) annually to the Canadian economy. The company employs about 1,500 highly skilled Canadians directly and many more indirectly through a supply chain of some 200 companies. Canada is the third-largest supplier to Boeing.

Boeing interests in Canada are coordinated through a country office in Ottawa. It is responsible for developing and implementing a country strategy for Boeing in Canada and for coordinating programs and issues between Boeing and its Canadian customers (government, airlines and industries).

Al DeQuetteville, Boeing Vice President – Canada, is the Boeing country executive in Canada. Although he reports through Integrated Defense Systems, he also represents Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Canada.

Here’s a deeper look at Boeing’s involvement in Canada.

Commercial Airplanes

BCA has facilities in the following Canadian locations:

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba—composite parts for commercial airplanes and major structures partner for the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner
  • Arnprior, Ontario—sheet metal fabrication and avionics racks for most commercial product lines
  • Toronto—making all 717 wing sets and performing work for the 737 and C-17 airplanes
  • Richmond, B.C.—Boeing subsidiary AeroInfo providing maintenance planning software for airline customers

The Winnipeg and Arnprior facilities report to BCA’s Fabrication Division. The Toronto site reports to the Boeing 717 program while AeroInfo reports to Boeing Commercial Aviation Services.

Integrated Defense Systems

IDS is pursuing a variety of programs in Canada through its various business units. Among them:

  • Boeing IDS is the prime contractor to modernize 80 of Canada’s CF18 fighter aircraft.
  • Canada is the third largest contributor to the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System program being modernized by Boeing.
  • A Boeing 702 satellite was recently put into orbit for Telesat Canada to provide expanded broadband services across remote regions of the country.
  • A Boeing Delta II launcher will place Canada’s Radarsat II in orbit next year.
  • Boeing continues to supply Harpoon missiles for the Canadian Navy’s frigates.
  • As the Canadian Air Force looks to industry for life-cycle support of various fleets, Boeing is promoting its supply chain services competencies in cooperation with several Canadian industry partners.
  • The Canadian Forces have a critical domestic and global airlift requirement for which Boeing has offered the C17 Globemaster III.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense has identified Canada as one of the potential international development partners with Boeing on the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft program.

—Cheryl Addams


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