Its Australian roots go back almost 90 years, and the company has manufactured some of our country’s most iconic aircraft. But Boeing Australia couldn’t be further away from being consigned to the annals of history.
In the midst of a challenging manufacturing environment, Boeing Australia has fashioned itself into an innovative, globally competitive company that is now heavily involved in creating components for the most technically advanced commercial aircraft in the world.
With 3100 employees around Australia, its focus on innovations and technological advances is particularly obvious at its site in Fishermans Bend, Melbourne, where Boeing Aerostructures Australia (BAA) is working on wing control surfaces for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
BAA is manufacturing the ‘moveable trailing edge’ surfaces of the aircraft, using carbon fibre technology developed in Victoria. This is Australia’s largest aerospace contract, with $5 billion of manufacturing work in the pipeline over 20 years.
The leading technology for the Dreamliner, called Controlled Atmospheric Pressure Resin Infusion, was developed in conjunction with the Australian arm of Boeing Research & Technology. It means that less infrastructure, labour and energy is now needed to produce a composite part, and the lightweight nature of the component also leads to increased fuel savings on the aircraft itself.
Once complete, the wing component, along with other parts manufactured at Fishermans Bend for aircraft including the 737, 747 and 777, will be shipped to the US for final assembly at Boeing’s factories in South Carolina and Washington State.
Boeing Australia also places a heavy focus on collaboration with industry, government and academia to ensure it continues to stay at the forefront of research and development. Its long-term partnership with Australian research organisation CSIRO has sparked a number of significant advances – most notably the world’s first comprehensive blueprint for the development of sustainable aviation fuels.
The company has also forged strong partnerships with locally-based small and medium-sized businesses, and has to date facilitated more than $336 million worth of export contracts for Australian suppliers. While a strong Australian dollar has provided its own challenges for Boeing Australia in recent years, it continues to build a reputation for productivity and innovation, and remains the largest operational footprint for Boeing outside the US.
With total air traffic forecast to keep growing at the current annual rate of 4.8 per cent over the next 20 years, Boeing Australia will continue to place significant investment in universities and schools to ensure a long-term supply of highly skilled employees into the future.