DCAC Configurator: New-AirplaneConfigurationDefinition Software

A computing application is now available to help Boeing configuration engineers more accurately and efficiently configure the new airplanes operators purchase from Boeing. Called Configurator, this application will reduce the complexity and length of defining the airplane configuration. In addition to eventually reducing the flow time to order an airplane--including eliminating manual searches for information about airplane options--Configurator will enable a rapid analysis of all operator-ordered changes to ensure technical compatibility and completeness.

Defining a new airplane during configuration discussions with operators is now easier and faster using a new software application called Configurator. Configurator reduces the time required to select and validate options for the operator's configuration, replacing lengthy manual searches for information with real-time, online searches. It also provides the most accurate and current data available, which should help ensure the accuracy of data used throughout airplane production. This new application is a key element of a Boeing initiative to simplify airplane design and production (see "Airplane Design and Production Initiative").Configurator will improve the configuration process for operators by offering the following benefits:

  1. Improved data access and management.

  2. Greater visibility of available options.

  3. Reduced configuration flow time.

Improved Data Access and Management
Traditional discussions of a proposed airplane configuration required Boeing airplane configuration engineers and operators to review various catalogs and documents that defined current options available for specific airplane models. They also needed to review a price catalog for those options and a detailed description of the basic airplane called the configuration specification. All of this printed material was updated routinely but might not have included all new options and basic design improvements since the last publishing of the document revision.

Configurator, however, gives airplane configuration engineers the ability to present operators with this information electronically, including versions as they become available. Using a laptop computer, the engineer can quickly download the latest available option data, including up-to-date prices and weights (figure 1).

Configurator will also automatically validate the configuration according to certain engineering constraints, ensuring that the airplane is complete and that all available options selected by the operator are technically compatible.

Greater Visibility of Available Options
Finding options to meet an operator's business requirement often meant the airplane configuration engineer would have to manually search catalogs or other documents, or consult with another engineer to request further investigation. Configurator makes this information more readily available to the operator, providing the opportunity to make faster, better informed decisions. Configurator does this through a library of available options that can be searched easily and quickly using many different criteria. These criteria include specific part numbers, key words that might appear in the option title, the Air Transport Association chapter where the option might be found, and even part descriptions (figure 2).

For example, an operator may have established a long-term supplier contract for maintenance spares and may wish to select available options offered by that supplier. The airplane configuration engineer can quickly select the supplier's name to find all options in the library that contain parts by that supplier. An operator may also want to discuss seats, including passenger seats, second-observer seats in the flight deck, cabin crew seats, and flight crew seats. Using the keyword search in the option title, Configurator will find all options with the word "seat" in the title.

Reduced Configuration Flow Time
In addition to reducing the time required to configure an airplane, Configurator will also allow Boeing to offer options to operators sooner, giving them greater flexibility in ordering airplanes. Designed to be nimble, Configurator reduces flow time in three other significant areas: