I have to confess that, as a child growing up, jumbo jets meant the Boeing 747 range of aircraft. Aspirational, huge and a plane that spoke to luxury travel to exotic destinations. Its place in history is secure as the plane that opened up international air travel to everyone.
It was with excitement that day three came as I have never been able to visit the Boeing plant in Seattle. I don’t drive (stop laughing), and that make it inaccessible.
On the morning of the visit, I was told that I was considered ‘Press’ because of the blog and so would be allowed to take pictures in the B737 production line we were going to visit that day. In addition, our guides explained we would be the first non-airline visitors to the Customer Experience building which usually pays host to airline execs with deep pockets or large cheque books. I knew it was going to be a great day.
The bus had about 25-30 OWMD attendees on it when we pulled out from the Hyatt Regency Bellvue. About thirty minutes later we arrived at a non-descript building on an estate of such buildings. However, once you went inside you realised what it really was – Boeing, through and through:
We were left to roam freely amongst the mockups of the 737, 747-8, 777 and 787. The 747-8 was great – the new LED lighting creates this wonderful open feel and mood lighting allows the airline to match the feel of the cabin to time of day, type of destination etc. Visually it makes the plane look larger in my view, although I am told it is not:
I was especially impressed with the work that Boeing has done with the interior of the 737. New bins, a more open cabin (the person on the aisle can stand up with hitting their head on the bins) and new lighting, inspired by the 787 lighting, change the feel of the workhorse of the industry:
Some lucky souls were allowed on the Boeing simulator, although I did see at least one person produce a very ‘interesting’ landing:
We left the Customer Experience Center and went to the 737 production line(s) building. As you might imagine it was huge – 35 planes a month rolling off the production line on two lines. Back order of thousands of these aircraft.
We came across aircraft being made for a certain European Airline:
The productions were impressive, and Boeing were happy for us to take picture everywhere except the engine assembly area, which is pretty understandable. After their time in the production line, and once fitted out with seats, the planes arrive at the end of the process before airworthiness tests occur and customer acceptance.
This was a great visit and the first time I had been to any aircraft production line.
Our next visit was the Museum of Flight which covers the history of aviation with some excellent exhibits on the aircraft of World War 1 and 2. The highlight however, are the Concorde, original 747-100 aircraft and the former Air Force One aircraft:
After the visit we were driven back to Sea-Tac to board the plane to LAX! (or so we thought ….. more to follow)