Saturday, June 02, 2007

 

The DreamLiner


Long a fan of shows on the Discovery Channels, such as "How It's Made", and John Ratzenberger's show "Made in America" on the Travel Channel, we always try to fit in a few plant tours on our trips. Today, we toured Boeing's Aircraft Assembly plant in Everett, Washington. The tour started with mini-video showing the assembly of a 747. Then we boarded a bus and crossed over to the massive aircraft assembly building (the largest such building in the world - eleven stories high and covering 98 acres). The tour took us to an upper viewing level between the 777 assembly "room" and the new addition where the new 787 Dreamliner is being built. The first 787 was about halfway through the assembly line, with the final wing about to be installed.

What a massive undertaking! It makes one appreciate both the ingenuity in design and and the intensity of the scale of effort involved in building these massive planes. The 777 room had 6 planes in the assembly line from two halves just being outfitted, to the final assembled product about to be taken out for testing. Sitting out in the line was one of Boeing's "DreamLifters", which was designed to carry fully assembled sections for the new Dreamliner from various assembly plants around the world. They sliced off the upper 2/3 from a 747 and grafted on a new, taller, wider upper body. Strange; it looks as if they overinflated a 747.

I still hate flying in the dang things, though, but that really isn't Boeing's fault. They build to customer specs, so things like seat pitch and numbers of seat per row are specified by the customers. We did get to take part in a little survey where we were asked to sit in two different "cabins" and rate the experience. Of course it was clear that a widebody cabin would be preferred by most travellers, since it doesn't feel so claustrophobic. Then Boeing can show these customer satisfaction "surveys" to their customers in an attempt to persuade them to upgrade from the 737s to the new 787s, and so on. Whatever, we got free Boeing pens for our trouble.

We are enjoying a balmy week so far; just warm enough to appreciate short sleeve shirts, but not so hot that we are wilting. The weather reports warn of a change Monday, as we pack up and head further south.

Comments:
I. Love. How. It's. Made. I really like watching how crayons are made though it is totally obvious, it just fascinates me. I guess I just like colorful stuff. I don't like watching all of the things like blenders and such though. That's not as fun.

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying your vacation... I wish I could go on vacation somewhere other than this stupid little ghost town in the middle of nowhere.
 
Yay Boeing! (that's where my dad works, although not at the Everett plant.) Did you know the factory is the largest building in the world by volume? (According to Wikipedia, that ever-reliable source ;-), it's 472 million cubic feet. Wow.)
Glad to hear you're enjoying the Pacific Northwest. We were having some pretty good weather (for WA) this week, but it's started to rain again. Bummer.
Enjoy your stint in Washington!
 
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