Boeing's Flight Plan

To craft its next flagship, Boeing is getting custom features from its design-software vendor. Next, suppliers need to get on board
Using Dassault Systèmes' applications, Boeing will be able to do "relational design," Burkett says. That means the digital models it builds will be made up of virtual components--digital versions of the chairs, metal, and screws used to build a plane. If designers move the location of the windows, the associated parts will move with it, speeding the process. Models can also be used to test component combinations to see, for example, if the design could handle certain loads. "You could call this a leap to a new level of the technology," Burkett says.

Airbus also uses Dassault Systèmes' version 5 PLM software to design its A380 model, though it isn't using all the tools, and it owns fewer seat licenses than Boeing expects to buy. Airbus isn't using Enovia, which Dassault Systèmes' Roignot says is a key component for collaborative design. Airbus began its implementation in September 2000 and has about 2,000 licenses of the Catia design software. But the use of Dassault Systèmes' software by both Airbus and Boeing could go far in persuading suppliers to adopt it.

Suppliers' embrace of the system is critical to the success of Boeing's design-collaboration strategy. Boeing and Dassault Systèmes already are meeting with partners, who have expressed willingness to use the system, Roignot says. "Is it simple? No, because the partners are all over the world," he says.

Thank goodness, then, for jetliners.

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