Boeing hopes to build the next plane at Metaverse
Boeing hopes to build the next plane at Metaverse

Going forward, Boeing plans to combine immersive 3D technology with robots that communicate with each other in its factories, while mechanics are connected around the world through Microsoft's HoloLens.

This is a snapshot of Boeing's ambitious new strategy to combine design, manufacturing, and end-to-end flight services into a single digital ecosystem in less than two years.

Critics say Boeing has repeatedly made similarly bold promises about the digital revolution, but results have been mixed. However, insiders say the overall goal of improving quality and security has become more urgent and important as organizations respond to multiple threats.

The aircraft manufacturer is struggling to regain its technical edge after the 737-MAX crisis in 2022 as it lays the groundwork for a future aircraft program worth $15 billion over the next decade.

It also aims to avoid future manufacturing issues, such as the structural flaws that plagued the 787 Dreamliner last year.

"It's about scaling up technology. We're talking about changing the way we work across the company," Greg Heslop, Boeing's chief engineer, told Reuters in the first interview in nearly two years.

After years of competition in the market, demand for contract delivery has opened a new front in the war between Boeing and Airbus in Europe, this time in factories.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Fury promised to innovate new production systems and harness the power of data to improve its industrial systems.

So far, Boeing's approach has been marked by successive developments in aircraft-specific software or tools. This is not a comprehensive overhaul.

The simultaneous promotion of the aviation giants symbolizes the global digital revolution as automakers and social media companies bring work and entertainment to an immersive virtual world called the Metaverse.

With its next new aircraft, Boeing plans to build and deliver a 3D virtual version of the aircraft and a production system that can run simulations.

Boeing wants to face big challenges

The digital model is powered by a digital link that gathers all the information about the aircraft from the start and goes into the supply chain.

The company believes such tools could be key to marketing new aircraft from scratch in just four to five years.

However, the plan faces significant challenges. Skeptics point to technical problems with the giant 777X small plane and the T-7A RedHawk military trainer aircraft, which were developed using digital tools.

The company paid attention to returns at the expense of technical advantages and also reduced research and development costs.

Companies like Spirit AeroSystems, a maker of aircraft components, have invested in digital technology. Major aircraft manufacturers have also entered into partnerships with French software manufacturer Dassault Systèmes. But hundreds of small sellers around the world do not have the capital or the human resources to do so.

Boeing realized that digital technology in and of itself was not a panacea. Industry said this is likely to be accompanied by organizational and cultural changes across the company.

The company recently hired Principal Architect Linda Hapgood to oversee its digital transformation, which has been supported by more than 100 engineers.

Hapgood is known for converting the black and white graphics of the Boeing KC-767 tanker into 3D. Equip the mechanics with tablets and HoloLens augmented reality glasses.

In his new role, Harpgood has hired engineers to work on digital twins that previously had a mid-size aircraft solution called NMA.

It also takes advantage of the experience gained from the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial vehicle for refueling.

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