Air Force News

Boeing reduces F-22 program costs with new wing process

Released: 8 Dec 1999

SEATTLE (AFPN) -- Boeing loaded the first F-22 skin panel, for the ninth flight-test aircraft, into a new wing skin assembly tool.

The tooling will reduce the time it takes to build a set of wings by approximately 370 hours, and cut overall cycle time by 12 percent.

The new tool, with a built-in overhead handling system, also will improve wing quality. It allows a more rapid and even application of pressure as the upper and lower wing skins are attached to the substructure, reducing variability and ensuring a better overall fit.

During the wing-assembly process, a caulk-like material is put on the skin and then pressure is applied to fill in any gaps between the skin and substructure. With the new tool, air bags inflate and uniformly apply pressure, thereby eliminating the requirement for 400 temporary fasteners.

Jeff Stone, Boeing F-22 manufacturing manager, said the idea for the tool came about as part of the team's ongoing process improvement program.

"We're continuously looking for ways to reduce costs on the F-22 program," Stone said. "This is another positive step in making our assembly process 'leaner' as we move toward production."

Boeing to date has delivered wings for the first six flight-test and two ground-test aircraft to team partner Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Ga. The first set of wings built using the new tooling will be delivered in mid-2000. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)


** F-22 Update