Boeing Reveals Ambitious Strategy to Build Its Next Airplane in ‘Metaverse’

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
December 17, 2021 Updated: December 17, 2021

Boeing has revealed an ambitious strategy to build its next airplane in the “metaverse” as it follows in the footsteps of multiple other companies in a move toward digital innovation.

The metaverse, also known as a virtual environment, is a combination of various technical elements such as virtual reality, augmented reality, video, and other forms of communication that create an immersive virtual world.

In an interview with Reuters, Boeing’s chief engineer, Greg Hyslop, said that in its next new aircraft, the company plans to build and link virtual three-dimensional “digital twin” replicas of the jet and the production system which will be able to run simulations.

The digital twins will be backed by a “digital thread” that encompasses all of the information known about the aircraft from its earliest years, including airline requirements, its parts, and thousands of pages of certification documents, which extend into the supply chain.

“It’s about strengthening engineering,” Hyslop said.”We are talking about changing the way we work across the entire company.”

The chief engineer noted that over 70 percent of quality issues at Boeing can be traced back to a design issue, and using such innovative tools will help bring the new aircraft to the market in around four to five years but noted that, “This is a long game.”

“You will get speed, you will get improved quality, better communication, and better responsiveness when issues occur,” Hyslop explained. “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.”

The ambitious strategy comes as Boeing strives to fend off competition from Europe’s Airbus, whose Chief Executive Guillaume Faury has pledged to “invent new production systems and leverage the power of data” to optimize its industrial system.

It also comes nearly a year after Boeing’s 737 MAX was cleared by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after two fatal crashes led to the jetliner’s grounding and drove nearly two years of regulatory scrutiny into the plane.

The 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people within five months in 2018 and 2019 and prompted a slew of investigations, costing Boeing some $20 billion.

Skeptics of the new digitally innovative airplane plans have noted the technical problems on Boeing’s 777X mini-jumbo and T-7A RedHawk military training jet, both of which were developed via digital tools.

“Is it worth pursuing? By all means,” Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia told Reuters. “Will it solve all their problems? No.”

In October, Facebook Inc. announced it was officially changing its name to Meta, and unveiled the “Metaverse,” a virtual world where people can socialize, work, and play. The move came shortly after the company endured leaks and so-called whistleblower complaints about its companywide practices.

“The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection. Our company’s vision is to help bring the metaverse to life, so we are changing our name to reflect our commitment to this future,” Meta said in a statement.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.