On our first full day in Seattle, we drove north to Everett, WA to visit one of the Boeing assembly plants in the Seattle area. The Boeing Everett Factory is located on the northeast corner of Paine Field, a small commercial public airport. It is the largest building in the world by volume at 472,370,319 cu ft and covers 98.3 acres. The factory is where Boeing wide-body 747s, 767s, 777s, and the new 787 Dreamliner are built. As we waited for the tour, we spent a few minutes touring the Future of Flight Aviation area of the visitors center.
Outside the Future of Flight Aviation Center you look across the main Page Field runway toward the Boeing facilities. It’s amazing to see a parking area full of wide-body jets, some waiting for final painting and some waiting for pick-up by an airline.
The latest airliner produced by Boeing is the 787 Dreamliner. While not as large as a 747, the Dreamliner is state-of-the art and is the first major airliner made from composite materials. According to Boeing, the 787 consumes 20% less fuel than the similarly-sized 767. The 787 development and production has involved a large-scale collaboration with numerous suppliers around the globe. To transport parts from around the world Boeing designed a new wide-body cargo airplane, the Boeing 747 Dreamlifter. Cargo is placed in the aircraft by the world’s longest cargo loader. Constructed by drastic modifications to an existing Boeing 747-400, it is used exclusively for transporting 787 aircraft parts to Boeing’s assembly plants from suppliers around the world. Due to its ungainly form, exacerbated by the fact that the need for immediate testing resulted in the first model remaining unpainted for some time, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carsonjokingly apologized to 747 designer Joe Sutter that he was “sorry for what we did to your plane.” It is definitely a strange looking aircraft.
Looking to the north of the airplane parking area you can see the main assembly plant. For the tour we loaded on to coach buses for the ride to the plant.
Visitors are prohibited from taking any electronic devices on the tour, a rule repeated numerous times by security personnel. But apparently someone is getting cameras into the plant, as a Google search provides many pictures of views from the tour. Below are a few examples. The green color on the aircraft below is a spray-on film that protects the plane from any damage during assembly. Once the assembly is completed, the covering is removed with a high-pressure hose.
Tomorrow Jessica arrives for a visit from Pennsylvania. NBC Sports must be following her arrival, as they have a countdown of one day on their web site. Oh wait, that is the Summer Olympics countdown clock. More on her visit later . . .