Boeing picks 747-8 team

Boeing this week announced the team of suppliers that will provide propulsion systems for the 747-8 airplane family, which was launched last November.

The external team includes General Electric (GE) for engines, Middle River Aircraft Systems for the thrust reverser system, and Spirit AeroSystems, for the nacelle and strut. The internal supplier team includes Boeing Winnipeg for the aft pylon fairing, Boeing Portland for the engine mounts, and Boeing Propulsion Systems Division for the engine build-up and strut build-up.

The 747-8 family includes the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger model and the 747-8 Freighter. GE will supply the GEnx-2B67 engine for the airplane, which is scheduled to enter service in September 2009 for freighter operator Cargolux of Luxembourg. Based on the GEnx engine launched on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the engine designed for the 747-8 will be rated at 66,500 pounds of thrust.

According to Boeing, the GEnx is the only jet engine being developed with both the front fan case and fan blades made of composite materials to provide greater engine durability and weight reduction. The engine also features a new-generation combustor for efficient fuel mixing before ignition, which lowers NOx levels. The first full GEnx-2B67 engine will go to test in 2007, with engine certification scheduled for 2008.

Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS) will develop, certify and produce the thrust-reverser system for the 747-8. The company will become a new direct supplier to Boeing, supplying the thrust-reverser system directly to Boeing rather than through engine manufacturer GE.

MRAS will begin the design phase immediately and expects to deliver first production hardware in 2008. The supplier will develop an all-composite thrust reverser for the 747-8.

Spirit AeroSystems will have design and build responsibilities for the engine struts and nacelles for the 747-8. Work will include the upper fairing, fan cowl support beam and strut box for the inboard and outboard struts. Spirit’s work package for the nacelles includes the inlet assembly, which will incorporate a one-piece composite acoustic barrel for a 105” diameter fan, composite fan cowl doors, the primary exhaust with sound-dampening chevrons, and plug (or cone).

“All of these suppliers submitted very competitive bids and we are pleased that they will be able to meet our program targets,” commented Jeff Peace, vice president – program manager, 747-8 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.