CASCADE — Smiths Aerospace has landed a contract to produce a highly advanced computer system for the Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner, a deal expected to be worth more than $1 billion over the life of the contract.
According to Smiths Aerospace, the computer system, called the Common Core System, will serve as the nerve center of the Dreamliner’s computers, networks and interfacing electronics and will host all the aircraft’s avionics, as well.
The Common Core System is a single computer system that consolidates an array of computer functions that have traditionally been handled by multiple computers and databases fitted to present day commercial aircraft.
The system also takes up less space on an aircraft than traditional airborne computing systems, said Jennifer Villarreal, Smiths communications manager. Smiths beat out Honeywell for the contract, which is expected to run more than 20 years, she said.
“Boeing is estimating about 1,500 of the first version of 7E7, then they’re going to have additional versions, so it will be upwards of 3,000 aircraft.”
Over the past two years, Smiths has had open requisitions for 100 engineers because of new contract work, Villarreal said, including contracts for the Boeing 767 tanker, a Boeing C-130 AMP and a joint strike fighter for Lockheed Martin.
She said the company expects to hire 60 more engineers at its Patterson Avenue facility specifically for the Common Core project.
“This first contract win on the 7E7 is a major breakthrough for the company, confirming Smiths Aerospace as a key Tier 1 supplier/partner with Boeing for their next family of commercial airplanes,” said Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, chief executive of Smiths Group.
John Ferrie, Smiths Group managing director, said the contract win “confirms” Smiths as the premier integrator and developer of airborne computing systems and positions the Smiths team to deliver state-of-the-art avionics well into the future.
The new contract could lead to other Boeing 7E7 contracts for Smiths.
Villarreal noted that the company is vying for a number of other major contracts for the 7E7 aircraft in the areas of fuel management, electrical power, flight control surfaces and landing gear actuation systems.
The Common Core contract is not the largest Smiths has secured to date in terms of money, but in terms of technology and in terms of being a Tier 1 supplier, it’s right up there, she said.
“It puts us in a very nice position with our customers.”
The Common Core System is considered a pivotal system in the avionics industry, and it’s the one that’s going to have the most functionality, she said.
The system is actually a hybrid of a similar airborne computing system Smiths previously developed for the Boeing 767 tanker and C-130 AMP.
According to Boeing, the 7E7 will provide airlines with “unmatched fuel efficiency,” using 20 percent less fuel for comparable missions than any other wide body airplane.
The 7E7 is scheduled to be put into service in 2008. BJX