Boeing Commercial Airplanes reported it will be the first customer of a new joint venture formed by Mubadala Development Company and Solvay that will produce primary structure (“pre-preg”) composite materials to be used to form 777X empennage and floor beams, starting in 2021. The plant, to be built at Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates, will supply empennage and floor beam structural parts for the Boeing 777X.
The length and value of the supply contract with the new venture were not released.
Pre-preg materials are "pre-impregnated" composite fibers with a matrix material (e.g., epoxy), already present. The fibers typically are woven, as in a fabric, with the matrix used to bond them together and to other components during manufacture. The matrix is only partially cured, so composite structures built of pre-pregs usually require heat curing.
Boeing’s 777 was the first commercial airliner to incorporate composite designs for structurally significant composite parts. Composites account for 50% percent of structural weight of the more recent 787 Dreamliner, and the 777X will have the world's largest aircraft wings formed from composite.
The 777X will be a redesigned version of the 777, a long-range twin-engine aircraft. Among the changes will be longer wings to improve the jet’s aerodynamics, and folding wing tips that will allow the new jets to occupy many of the same gates now filled by the current 777 series aircraft.
The 777X will be available in two models, the 777-8X and 777-9X. Manufacturing is due to start next year, with a commercial debut scheduled in 2020.
Mubadala, or Mubadala Development Company PJSC is a wholly owned investment vehicle for the government of Abu Dhabi, in the U.A.E. Boeing and Mubadala have been collaborating in aerospace composites manufacturing since 2009 via several initiatives. In 2013, they announced a framework agreement to increase the long-term role of Mubadala as a direct supplier to Boeing, including support to Mubadala in developing prepreg manufacturing in the U.A.E.
Solvay, a Belgian chemical company, has been supplying composite materials and adhesives to Boeing Commercial Airplanes for over 30 years.
"After close collaboration with Mubadala and Solvay to expand the supply of aerospace composites, Boeing is pleased to be the first customer for their new joint venture in the U.A.E.," stated Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes President. "Our commitment to purchase this prepreg material for the 777X meets several important goals for Boeing, from further advancing aerospace industry development in the U.A.E. to expanding high-quality materials in our supply chain."