Building a commercial aircraft without the help of business partners today would be an impossible task. Aircraft manufacturers rely on their suppliers’ expertise. For Boeing, this practice now goes back a century. In making the 787, for example, the aircraft manufacturer is supported by dozens of subcontractors from all over the world.
To produce its aircraft sections, Boeing counts on a veritable united nations of suppliers : the Americans for Spirit, the Japanese for Kawasaki and Fuji, the Italians for Alenia, the Koreans for KAL-ASD, the French for Latecoere’s passenger entry doors and the Swedish Saab for the cargo access doors. Japanese Mitsubishi also works on the wings, the French Safran Landing Systems on the landing gear, while British Rolls-Royce and American General Electric provide the engines.
For the avionics, Boeing puts its faith in Americans Rockwell Collins and Honeywell. As for the in-flight entertainment systems, these are manufactured by the Japanese Panasonic or the French Thales. The electrical interconnection systems are also carried out by France’s Safran Electrical & Power.
It’s a giant jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces slotting together in the Boeing 787’s final assembly line at Everett, Washington State, in northwestern USA.