Boeing To Create Next Jet In ‘Metaverse’


After a few tough years of quality control issues, a disastrous two-year grounding of its foundation aircraft and intense regulatory scrutiny, Boeing says it’s doing a top-to-bottom overhaul of its design, engineering and manufacturing systems as it gears up to build its next clean-sheet airplane. The company recently told Reuters it plans to plunge the company into the so-called “metaverse,” an immersive environment where human workers are digitally linked to machines and other workers using virtual reality and augmented reality. “It’s about strengthening engineering,” Boeing’s chief engineer, Greg Hyslop, told Reuters. ”We are talking about changing the way we work across the entire company.”

For the next jet, the plan is to build a virtual digital replica of every piece of the aircraft on which simulations can be run. The system will bring together the forests worth of paper drawings, test data and certification documents into a digital environment that could assess and test every bit of the plane before it ever hit the shop floor. Technicians and engineers would interact with robotic machinery through virtual and augmented reality to spot and solve problems. Hyslop said the system will not only build better aircraft, it will do it faster, perhaps taking that next jet from digital doodling to first flight in five years or less. “You will get speed, you will get improved quality, better communication, and better responsiveness when issues occur,” Hyslop said. “When the quality from the supply base is better, when the airplane build goes together more smoothly, when you minimize re-work, the financial performance will follow from that.” 

Boeing has tried out initial versions of the new workflow on recent projects like the T-7A military trainer and 777X airliner with mixed success. Both ended up with certification issues but Hyslop told Reuters they’re working on it. “This is a long game,” Hyslop said. “Every one of these efforts was addressing part of the problem. But now what we want to do is do it from end to end.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. If Boeing management thinks this will solve all their problems, they have even worse management problems than I thought they did.

    • Bingo! Unless this system offers transparency at all levels then good luck. I’m sure having a linked system to de-silo groups and manufacturers is good, but it won’t change culture. That’s a leadership job.

  2. Hmmm… he didn’t mention where Finance and the bean-counters fit into the virtualized decision-making process.

  3. Seems to be an extension of the digital engineering revolution (CAD, MBSE, etc). If successful for Boeing, I’m sure in a couple years the DOD will mandate these meta verse techniques (whatever they turn out to be) in future contracts. 787 development has already had a drastic impact on DOD aviation procurement with FACE etc.

  4. “…a digital environment that could assess and test every bit of the plane before it ever hit the shop floor.”
    Let us hope the assessment & test algorithm universe correctly mimics reality. Otherwise it’s just another, albeit high-tech, way to bake in gotchas for later discovery.

  5. A Flight Simulator is an example of the MetaVerse. I believe many people agree that Flight Simulators are a good training tool. As computers get more advanced processors Flight Simulators will be one of the first Training Tools adopted by the full power of the MetaVerse. The airline flight crew members and their instructors can be on opposite ends of the planet getting their Sim Time in just by putting on a helmet and some gloves.

  6. I’m curious how Boeing intends to incorporate the FAA into their “Metaverse” world. I am pretty sure the Feds don’t have the budget to procure whatever computer equipment is needed. And, if the FAA isn’t in the loop from day one, the rest is kind of a waste of time. I also wonder how their new review system would have identified the MCAS mess and how company management would have reacted if the system actually caught the errors in MCAS implementation.