Wichita — A two-year project to move Boeing 757 fuselage work to Wichita became reality when a robotic computerized machine milled a floor beam.
While Boeing Wichita has produced the forward section of Boeing 757 jetliners, it now will manufacture the middle and aft sections of the fuselage as well.
The beam was the first part to be manufactured for the additional work.
The work helped save some jobs in Wichita at a time the plant is cutting up to 5,200 positions companywide after the terrorist attacks hurt air traffic and Boeing's airline customers.
Workers in Renton, Wash., are now building the last few fuselages there and will then move the remaining tools to Wichita, Wichita 757 director Julie Acosta said.
The floor beam manufactured Friday is a change from the way beams have been made in Renton.
It eliminates the conventional floor assembly jigs and fixtures and replaces them with a numerical-control, computerized assembly process.
The process cuts the number of parts needed, the amount of floor space, time and cost.
"It's a big, lean improvement," said Damian Jensen, manager of product support.
The Wichita facility will ship the sections to Boeing's plant in Renton for final assembly.
The first 757 fuselage is scheduled to be shipped to Renton about Thanksgiving to be assembled onto a jet for delivery to Air 2000 Limited, a United Kingdom air carrier.
The day was bittersweet for the Wichita employees involved in the project. They celebrated additional 757 work on the final day of work for 494 Boeing Wichita employees.