US Airframer Boeing has extended its agreement with Toray Industries of Japan, the current supplier of composite materials wings for the 787 Dreamliner to include wings for the 777X. The 777X is a modification of the extremely popular 777 twin-jet ‘mini-jumbo’and is expected to enter service in 2020. The wingspan of the 777X measures 71.7 meters (235.4 feet), about 6.95 meters (22.8 feet) longer than the current 777-300ER.
The memorandum of understanding signed recently expected to be finalised soon, will take effect from 2015. As per Reuters the contract for the composite wings for both the 787 and 777X is expected to be worth $8.6 billion.
Toray Industries is investing ¥100 billion (approx $860 million) on a new carbon fibre plant in the US state of South Carolina and will collaborate with Boeing to improve commercial acceptance of composite materials in the aerospace industry by increasing consistency and performance of materials along with a cost structure making composites more competitive with metals.
We are seeing a trend in the aviation industry, towards more economic aircraft. Perhaps the 787 is a pioneer in this direction. Upcoming are the A320 neo, 777X, and 737 MAX, all of which feature new engines/composites to improve fuel burn.