If it's Boeing, I'm going
If you’re an air traveller, there is a high chance you’ll have flown from A to B aboard a Boeing aircraft. In short, Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, defence, space and security systems. Boeing has been the premier manufacturer of commercial jetliners for decades. Today, the company manufactures the iconic 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 families of airplanes. New product development efforts include the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, the 737 MAX, and the 777X. More than 10,000 Boeing-built commercial jetliners are in service worldwide, which is almost half the world fleet. The company also offers the most complete family of freighters, and about 90 percent of the world’s cargo is carried aboard Boeing planes. As America’s biggest manufacturing exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in more than 150 countries.
Located on the northeast corner of Paine Field, Boeing’s Everett Site is heralded as having the largest manufacturing building in the world, producing the 747, 767, 777, and the 787 airplanes. Thousands of aerospace employees in Everett support aircraft fabrication and production, product development, aviation safety and security and airplane certifications. Other production areas at the site include the paint hangars, flight line and delivery center. Originally built in 1967 to manufacture the 747, the main assembly building has grown to enclose 472 million cubic feet of space over 98.3 acres.
If you’re fascinated by how these big metal birds get air lift, visit Seattle’s foremost attraction – the Future of Flight Aviation Center and the Boeing Everett Factory, where tours are conducted daily. Here, you can explore the dynamics of flight and experience new aviation innovations. It’s possible to design your own airplane and have a free picture taken with the Boeing factory in the background in the Gallery. At the Everett facility, tour visitors will see all stages of production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner from elevated viewing platforms. On any given day, there are orders in situ for many of the world’s leading airlines. Like giant green coloured metal caterpillars, fuselages (their metal bodies encased in a protective green film) and wing pieces with the ever-familiar ‘NO STEP’ markings, ailerons and flip tips sit in a giant assembly line and are worked on by hundreds of technicians and engineers. Millions of kilometres of wiring, rivets, studs and screws conjoin giant sections of metal to create iconic Boeing aircraft. Meanwhile, on giant trolleys sit Pratt and Whitney, General Electric and Rolls Royce engines ready to be custom-assembled, along with customised interiors and paintwork. In the paint bay, aircraft undergo customised paint jobs that on an average sized aircraft will add anywhere between 250-300 kg extra to the overall payload.
On average, a Boeing 777 aircraft takes around 50 days to construct by thousands of workers. It then takes another 5 days and more than 570 litres of paint to add the distinctive livery across the fuselage seen at airports worldwide. And underneath all that paint, are approximately three million parts provided by more than 500 suppliers.
As for what happens at completion, it’s all pretty simple, really. Just as you’d head to the dealership to purchase your new car, here at Boeing you (and a probably a big entourage – comprising the airline CEO, Chief Pilot, Chief First Engineer, about 200-300 hangers-on and maybe even the bank manager) head to the Delivery Center. It’s here that one literally takes hold of the ‘keys’.
Boeing like to freely admit in their souvenir store ‘If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going’. This slogan appears proudly on selected souvenirs. Not a coy statement from one of the foremost aviation manufacturers. If preferring a tee-shirt emblazoned with a simple company logo, or a selection of dozens of different aircraft models, you’ve definitely arrived at the right shop.