On Nov 12, the visiting 5 crew members of the USS Washington, along with several Navy Leaguers, drove to the Boeing Everett facility for a special tour of the factory.
At a very interesting briefing by our tour guide, Eileen Dickson, we learned that the manufacturing facility there is the largest building in the world by volume at 472,370,319 cu ft and covers 98.3 acres. All of Disneyland will fit inside it with lots of room to spare, as would the entire Pentagon. This is the place where all of Boeing’s “wide body” airplanes are built, from the 747 up to the 787. We were particularly interested in the connection between the 787 & the USS Washington, since it is hull # 787.
After boarding electric carts, we drove through the various assembly lines for the different huge aircraft, seeing them in all stages of completion. One interesting thing we learned is that huge 14,700 pound cement blocks are hung from the wings to simulate the weight of the engines, in order to keep the plane balanced as components are added. We did not see the 767 construction line, since it is now exclusively making refueling tankers for the military.
Boeing provides a standard body construction for each unit, but interior configuration & components are specified by each individual customer. Very few passenger models of the 747 are now being produced. Most of the new ones are cargo models.
These “wide body” planes are so huge that the engine for 777 is the same diameter as the whole 737 airplane.
Coinciding with our interest in the 787 (and it’s relationship to SSN 787) we enjoyed a stop where there was a mockup of the Boeing 787 features. Since it is made of carbon fiber- much stronger and lighter than metal – it can be pressurized at a more comfortable level, and the humidity can be increased, factors which will improve jet lag issues. Other innovations include larger overhead storage bins for carry on luggage, as well as larger windows and a dimming feature that works at the push of a button. It takes the window from almost completely clear to almost completely black in just a few seconds.
At the end of the tour, the USS Washington crew members were given a few 787 mementos and some went on to the “Future of Flight” gift shop.
It was a great opportunity for us of the Puget Sound Navy League Councils to interact with the USS Washington crew, and connect them with the “other” 787.