BOEING EMPLOYS COMPUTERS ON ITS 777 JETLINER ASSEMBLY LINE

Boeing's new 777 jetliner, the most advanced commercial jet being built in the United States, is not being created with blueprints or mockups; it is being assembled with concurrent engineering, using nearly 2,000 computers in Renton, Wash.

According to Barbara Murphy, a spokeswoman for Boeing, the 777 "will be defined and pre-assembled" by teams of engineers and specialists with computers projecting three-dimensional images. Using this approach, Boeing is hoping to avoid costly reworking that is sometimes needed when a plane with millions of parts is being built.

The 777 is a wide-bodied craft with twin engines. At a length of 209 feet 1 inch, it is designed to be shorter than a 747 but longer than a 767. Unique in its design will be a mechanism allowing about 22 feet of the wingtips to fold up, thereby reducing the wingspan from 199 feet to 155 and allowing it to "fit" at smaller airports.

"Because United, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, and Japan Airlines are involved in deciding the plane's design," says Ms. Murphy, "the cabin area will set a new standard for comfort and spaciousness."

The 777 can be configured to hold up to 440 passengers if the entire plane is economy class. With first class and business class, the plane can seat from 375 to 400.

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