Boeing ramps up production of its 'plastic plane'

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Boeing plans to increase production of its new 787 ‘Dreamliner’, the airframe of which is 50% carbon fibre reinforced plastic, from three and a half planes a month to 10 a month by the end of 2013.

The new target, which will initially see production increase to five planes a month by the end of this year, is likely to put pressure on the 325 suppliers around the world – including 13 in the UK – which feed into its manufacture.

Reuters news agency said the company was trying to make up for earlier delays caused partly by having to manage such a diverse supply chain, which uses 5,000 factories worldwide.

The 787 is the most outsourced aircraft in Boeing’s 95-year history. Current orders for the plane number more than 800.

The largest single material used in the 787’s manufacture is advance composite, which the aircraft manufacturer claims will help the plane cut 20% from its fuel bill compared with its predecessor, the 767.

The plane’s airframe is nearly 50% carbon fibre reinforced plastic and other composites, Boeing said.

The 787 "makes greater use of composite materials in its airframe and primary structure than any previous Boeing commercial airplane", it added.