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C-17 SHOWS PRODUCTION IMPROVEMENTS

 C-17 SHOWS PRODUCTION IMPROVEMENTS
 LONG BEACH, Calif., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Significant production


performance improvements have been recorded on the U.S. Air Force C-17 airlifter assembly line, as the fourth production aircraft undergoes major join here this week.
 The fuselage sections and wings of P-4 have been loaded into a major join tool, which uses a laser system to precisely align the sections.
 "Open items -- work which must be done out of position on the assembly line -- on the wings, forward, center and aft fuselage sections are significantly fewer than on previous C-17s and closer to what would be expected with later production aircraft," said David Swain, executive vice president-government segment, in charge of the C-17 program for McDonnell Douglas.
 Normally the Air Force does not expect these sections to be this complete when going to "major join" until about the ninth or tenth production aircraft, said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Miller, USAF's director of the C-17 program office.
 "What normally takes until nine or ten airplanes to achieve is being done on the fourth production aircraft," Miller said. "We're seeing the learning curve on the production line really starting to improve," he said. "The cost of the airplane in terms of man-hours required to produce it is dropping sharply, and the quality is going up tremendously."
 Rework and repair costs -- a measure of quality improvement -- have dropped an average of 20 percent between each of the first five aircraft, Swain said. And they will continue this dramatic drop through the first eight production aircraft, he added.
 "Based on the work we are accomplishing today, we are at a production rate of 6.3 aircraft per year," Swain said. "And based on the current Air Force schedule, we will maintain this relatively low rate until 1994 when we will begin to ramp up to a more efficient production rate." Production work is currently under way on 10 aircraft at the McDonnell Douglas Long Beach facility.
 P-1 is 95 percent complete, with many of the on-aircraft test checkouts of mechanical, hydraulic, electronic and flight control systems already accomplished. Some 75 percent of the flight control system testing has been completed, work that is normally done after the aircraft moves to the ramp.
 With P-1 scheduled to move to the flight ramp this week, there will be fewer than 600 "open items" compared with 3,000 on T-1 when it went to the flight ramp, Swain said.
 P-2 is 89 percent complete and P-3 is 68 percent complete. P-4, the aircraft which has begun major join, is 53 percent complete -- which includes installation and checkout of all systems and equipment prior to delivery to the Air Force.
 The Air Force is scheduled to receive its first C-17 at Charleston AFB, S.C., in early 1993. The first full squadron of 12 planes will be operational in mid-to-late 1994.
 -0- 2/27/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Ramsey of Douglas Aircraft Co., 310-496-5027/
 (MD) CO: Douglas Aircraft Co. ST: California IN: AIR SU:


DM -- LA037 -- 3392 02/27/92 15:34 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 27, 1992
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