Significant progress has been made to the build of XB-1. After bonding the nose landing gear and cockpit in December, the team has closed, tested, and installed the wing structure, installed the left hand fuselage skin, and nearly completed nose landing gear testing.
Now, the company has put XB-1’s final large-scale bonding operation in the rearview mirror: the forward fuselage closeout and cure. With this significant milestone complete, only a few minor bonds remain on the aircraft before XB-1 is unveiled to the world on October 7th.
In preparation for the event, teams across multiple disciplines including Structures, Flight Controls, Avionics, Hydraulics, and Manufacturing worked in tandem for months to install systems throughout the aircraft.
“This event represented one of the highest levels of cross-collaboration between our teams to date,” said Lead Manufacturing Engineer Ryan Bocook. “Before we could officially close out the forward fuselage, nearly every team played a role in installing systems in the tunnel that would later become less accessible.”
The tunnel, which refers to 50-feet of continuous tubing connecting the tip of the aircraft to the tail, sits above the fuel tank and contains everything from aircraft routing hydraulics and flight controls, to avionics, environmental control lines, and power wire bundles. “Between April and closeout, we installed 108 systems components and roughly 200 pounds of wiring to the forward fuselage,” said Bocook.
By the official day of closeout, the team had already bonded the nose skin and made quick and efficient work of the final bond and cure. “We’ve conducted all types of bonds and closeouts on this aircraft,” said Bocook. “The forward fuselage closeout went seamlessly, and that’s a testament to the high performance and proven ability of this team.”
As part of the event, the forward fuselage was cured at a temperature of 200°F for the first time. “Before this milestone, these components had experienced a maximum cure temperature of 150°F,” said Bocook. “With the 200°F cure complete, we can begin to install heat-sensitive systems to the aircraft.” Installation also progressed plans to bolt on the nose landing gear and install the aft cockpit and canopy.
Looking ahead, Boom is right on track to unveil XB-1 on October 7th, as part of the company’s virtual rollout event. “Ahead of us, we will join the forward and aft fuselage, install the vertical tail, and install the engines,” said Bocook. “There is a lot more to see and we’re extremely excited to share the hard work of this team in just a few short months.”