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Frontiers October 2013 Issue

collaborated with Defense, Space & Security to design and qualify a state-of-the-art tool capable of building wing spars for both the KC-46A and the baseline 767 commercial airplane. The spar is the main structural component of the wing. Each wing contains two spars—one front and one rear. The spars support critical in-flight loads and the weight of the wings. “The wing spar is a component on the airplane Boeing manufactures from scratch,” Jacobsen said. “Building the spar is the first step to wing construction, and it is the first step in the structural assembly of an aircraft.” The sixth-generation of the wing-spar tool was installed in the Everett factory in February and, following several months of qualification testing, entered production in June. The 777 program had installed an earlier-model ASAT5 in 2011, and the sharing of information between programs helped testing on the ASAT6 proceed smoothly, said Wade Price, who participated in both installations. Unlike its preceding five models, which require four separate lines—one dedicated to each spar—ASAT6 has two lines, each capable of producing both front and rear spars. Advances in tool design, drill technology and computer programming ensure ASAT6 is well-equipped to handle the variations between commercial and military wing spars, according to 767 Equipment Engineering. Equipment engineer Yu Chin Jou said color coding makes the tooling intuitive and easy to use. “On the old machine, setup time required a lengthy five-step process; now setup involves one quick, easy step.” On June 26, the new machine began drilling and fastening the first wing spar for the tanker. It was a major occasion for program employees, who received commemorative tanker pins and signed a banner marking the achievement. “The team has a great sense of pride in loading the wing spar on time and on schedule,” said Scott Campbell, vice president and general manager of the 767 commercial program. “We are proud to launch a new era in aerial refueling.” It was just the first of many spars that the new tool will produce for the KC-46A and the 767 for years to come. “I’ve seen a lot of machines come and go,” said Peterson, the maintenance technician. “This is a marvelous piece of technology.” n kymberly.y.vandlac@boeing.com PHOTOS: (From top) Equipment engineers Yu Chin Jou, left, and Huy-Van Huynh quickly set up the Automated Spar Assembly Tool, or ASAT6; at the controls are Keith Jacobsen (foreground), ASAT tool operator, and Mark Pflum, equipment engineer. BOEING FRONTIERS / OCTOBER 2013 21


Frontiers October 2013 Issue
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