Norbert Steinkemper

Broetje-Automation hands over fully automatic drilling and riveting system to Pilatus


In order to remain competitive on an international level, it is essential in the aviation industry to be innovative at the highest technical level in all areas of the production process. Broetje-Automation and Pilatus Flugzeugwerke AG were able to celebrate a milestone for business jet production with the handover of the fully automatic drilling and riveting system for series production of the PC-24  Super Versatile Jet.

High level of automation enables maximum efficiency

The degree of automation in modern aircraft construction has increased sharply in recent years. After many years focusing primarily on commercial passenger aircraft, innovative manufacturers from the regional and business segments are increasingly turning to partially and fully automated production processes. Pilatus is demonstrating at its Stans site in Switzerland how automation in this class of aircraft can be successful.
Thanks to modern manufacturing concepts and a consistent focus on automation right from the design phase of the aircraft, structural assembly can be operated competitively also in high-wage countries such as Switzerland. During the development of the PC-24, care was taken from the outset to ensure efficient processing of aircraft components with automated riveting machines. This results in a high degree of automation and thus the possibility of reducing the manual effort involved in building the PC-24.

The Swiss aircraft manufacturer’s vision of working closely with production planning and equipment manufacturers such as Broetje-Automation right from the design phase enables the riveting system now in operation to guarantee significantly increased capacity flexibility. This allows a wide variety of structural components of the PC-24 to be flexibly assembled on the system. The fastening system, which has been jointly optimized by Broetje-Automation and Pilatus for this application, offers the necessary flexibility and productivity.

Lutz Neugebauer, CEO of the Broetje-Automation Group, congratulated Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus on the success and thanked Pilatus for the trust it had placed in the automation specialists in aircraft production. The system, which has now been handed over, is part of a major investment by Pilatus at its Stans site, which also represents a commitment to Switzerland as an aircraft manufacturing location. By 2020, a state-of-the-art production line for the aircraft structures of the PC-24 will be operational in the completely new structural hall.
The changeover to automated structural engineering will take place in several steps. By the end of 2019 all relevant PC-24 assemblies will be tested in automated production on the C-frame riveting machine. Based on these findings, the automated process will then be optimized for series production. The operation start of the automated operation with the riveting machine will take place in 2020.


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