Boeing, like Airbus, sees the building and linking virtual three-dimensional “digital twin” reproductions of the plane and a production system capable of running simulations as the holy grail for its next major aircraft.
Immersive 3-D engineering blueprints will be twinned with robots that speak to each other in Boeing Co’s factory of the future, while Microsoft Corp.’s $3,500 HoloLens headgear will connect mechanics all over the world.
It’s a taste of a bold new Boeing strategy to bring together huge design, production, and airline services activities under a single digital ecosystem in as little as two years.
Critics claim that Boeing has made similar grandiose promises about a digital revolution before, with uneven outcomes. However, as the corporation faces several threats, insiders believe the overriding aims of increasing quality and safety have taken on increased urgency and significance.
After the 737 MAX debacle, the planemaker is battling to reclaim its engineering dominance in 2022, while also setting the groundwork for a future aircraft programme over the next decade – a $15 billion risk. It also hopes to avoid future production issues, including the structural defects that have plagued its 787 Dreamliner in recent months.
In his 1st interview in over 2 years, Boeing’s chief engineer, Greg Hyslop, told Reuters, “It’s about strengthening engineering.” “We’re talking about changing the way we work throughout the organisation.”
The necessity to deliver on growing order books has opened up a new front in Boeing’s conflict with Europe’s Airbus, this time on the production floor, after years of fierce market competition.
Guillaume Faury, the CEO of Airbus and a former head of automotive research, has committed to “create new manufacturing techniques and exploit the power of data” to improve the company’s industrial system.
Boeing’s approach has so far been characterised by incremental advancements inside single aircraft programmes or tooling, rather than the systemic overhaul that Hyslop is pushing for now.
Both airline titans’ simultaneous endeavour is symptomatic of a global digital revolution, as manufacturers like Ford Motor Co and social media businesses like Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc shift work and play into an immersive virtual world known as the metaverse.
So, how does the metaverse function in aviation? It’s a shared digital area that often uses virtual reality or augmented reality and is accessible over the internet.
Boeing’s holy grail for its next new aircraft, like Airbus’s, is to create and link virtual three-dimensional “digital twin” reproductions of the plane with a production system that can perform simulations.
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