Boeing expands Propulsion Systems to bring design
and build expertise in-house
10 | BOEING FRONTIERS BY DAN RALEY | PHOTOS BY BOB FERGUSON
10 | BOEING FRONTIERS
GE90 engine, the largest
in service in the aviation
world, hangs from an
overhead boom at the Propulsion
Systems Division factory in Everett,
Wash. For two and a half days,
Boeing mechanics crowd around
this imposing piece of machinery
and install component parts. Once
complete, it moves by oversized
forklift to the 777 jetliner assembly
line next door. Within minutes,
another engine arrives to start the
This same rhythm and processes
occur in nearby Renton as the
Propulsion team prepares CFM56
engines for installation on the 737.
It turns out 84 engines per month,
one every four hours.
On the opposite side of the country,
Boeing technicians manufacture inlets,
or nacelle front-leading edge, at
Propulsion South Carolina in Ladson,
outside of Charleston. When at full
rate in 2018, the new facility will
produce an inlet every two hours
for the 737 MAX—while drilling
18,000 fastener holes per day.
“There’s a lot going on under the
hood,” said Charlie Hix, Propulsion
South Carolina director.
From coast to coast, Boeing is
pursuing ambitious schedules and
expanding operations in propulsion,
an area that consists of the engine,
fan cowl, inlet, pylon, strut and thrust
reverser, all parts either tucked inside
or connected to a shell-like nacelle.
In short, everything beneath the wing
of a large commercial jetliner in flight.
There’s also the related fuel systems
and the auxiliary power unit, an
additional jet-engine power source
found in the tail of the airplane.
Propulsion accounts for 40 percent
of the maintenance cost of an airplane
over its lifetime, according to Nicole
Piasecki, Propulsion Systems Division
vice president and general manager.
“As we look to the future, I expect
propulsion systems and fuels to
play only a bigger role in terms of
the total technology that goes
on an airplane toward life-cycle
performance,” she said.
With new commercial airplane
models headed to the factory, Boeing
has brought propulsion-related
design and build work in-house in