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CHARLESTON-BOUND C-17 AIRLIFTER BEGINS ASSEMBLY LINE MAJOR JOIN

CHARLESTON-BOUND C-17 AIRLIFTER BEGINS ASSEMBLY LINE MAJOR JOIN
 LONG BEACH, Calif., July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The first U.S. Air Force/McDonnell Douglas C-17 airlifter scheduled for direct delivery to the Air Mobility Command has entered major join on the assembly line here and is 56 percent complete.
 The sixth production C-17 will be delivered directly to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., where it will be used for training purposes prior to joining the first operational C-17 squadron, part of the 437th Airlift Wing.
 Called P-6, this is the final aircraft in the Air Force's second production lot order which called for four aircraft in a contract awarded to McDonnell Douglas in July 1989.
 The third production lot order was for four more C-17s, and final assembly is underway on all four. In addition, Congress authorized procurement of four additional aircraft in fiscal year 1992 -- making a total of 14 production aircraft authorized of the planned Air Force buy of 120 aircraft.
 Move of P-6 to major join "signals dramatically increased product maturity on the C-17 assembly line," according to Jim Berry, McDonnell Douglas vice president and general manager, C-17 program.
 The wing and fuselage sections of P-6, the sixth production C-17, were moved into the major join tool in a record 12 hours on June 17-18 and alignment of the sections was completed on June 24.
 Labor assembly hours on P-6 are running two and one-half times better than on P-1, the first production aircraft. The cost of rework and repair is dropping at the rate of 19 percent, ship- to-ship, Berry added.
 "In-position" work -- work that is accomplished at the precise point where it is scheduled on the production line -- also has increased dramatically, Berry said. P-6 entered major join with 90 percent of work performed in-position, compared with T-1, which had 32 percent.
 The move of P-6 sections into major join was accomplished by a group of 14 workers using an overhead crane to lower the sections into the Nicholson tool, which rides on a cushion of air, according to Lonnie Thompson, business unit manager, C-17 Production.
 The automatic alignment system feeds readings from laser beams aimed at precise targets on assembly locations into a computer, which sends commands to electrically driven jacks that accurately align and position each assembly. The laser alignment allows McDonnell Douglas to assemble the major fuselage assemblies and the wing of the C-17 more accurately and faster than possible in the past for similar-sized aircraft.
 In addition to P-6, McDonnell Douglas has seven more C-17s in various stages of assembly at its Long Beach facilities. There are also two non-flying aircraft, being used for static and durability testing. P-3, the third production aircraft, has been painted and is 89 percent complete.
 Three aircraft are flying in the flight test program at Edwards AFB, including P-2, the second production aircraft which made its inaugural flight on June 21. The three test aircraft have combined for 94 missions, recording a total of 292.5 flight hours.
 -0- 7/6/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Ramsey of Douglas Aircraft Company, 310-496-5027/
 (MD) CO: McDonnell Douglas ST: California IN: ARO SU:


CH -- LA010 -- 6658 07/06/92 13:24 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 6, 1992
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