Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0010

Case Study on the Challenges and Responses of a Large Turnkey Assembly Line for the C919 Wing 2020-01-0010

Design and production of an assembly system for a major aircraft component is a complex undertaking, which demands a large-scale system view. Electroimpact has completed a turnkey assembly line for producing the wing, flap, and aileron structures for the COMAC C919 aircraft in Xi’an, China. The project scope includes assembly process design, material handling design, equipment design, manufacture, installation, and first article production support. Inputs to the assembly line are individual component parts and small subassemblies. The assembly line output is a structurally completed set of wing box, flaps, and ailerons, for delivery to the Final Assembly Line in Shanghai. There is a trend toward defining an assembly line procurement contract by production capacity, versus a list of components, which implies that an equipment supplier must become an owner of production processes. The most significant challenge faced was the amount of front end engineering work required to develop detailed assembly processes and reconcile them with the customer, who remains the actual process owner. Other challenges include aircraft maturity delays, design changes due to process definition evolution, factory environmental conditions such as dust and varying temperature gradients, and cultural and communication challenges both internal and external. The result achieved by Electroimpact is an assembly line system composed of an integration of assembly tooling, special process equipment, NC machine equipment, inspection equipment, material handling and logistics equipment:
  • Two robotic drilling cells integrated with both stationary and mobile tooling.
  • Integrated wing major assembly cell with manual assembly jigs and large CNC wing drilling machines.
  • Twenty-three other manual work stations.
New technology developments implemented include:
  • A new high-curvature nosepiece on the robot end effecter to enable accurate drilling and countersinking on the LE Spar D-Nose section.
  • A new application and delivery system for single-sided temporary fasteners for wing panel drilling.
  • Tooling design to accommodate large temperature variations.


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