EVERETT, Wash. - It's called the 777X Composite Wing Center, and Boeing says this billion dollar investment shows its continued commitment to the state of Washington.
The factory is nearly 1.3 million square feet and covers 27 acres. It will make the long wings of the new jet from composite materials, carbon fiber threads bonded into resin that's lightweight and strong.
The Boeing 787 is made mostly from composite materials, but the 787 composite parts are mostly made in Charleston, South Carolina, Italy and the wings in Japan. Much if not most of the 777X will be made in Washington state.
Eric Linblad, vice president of the 777X, says the design is for the plane to carry more than 400 passengers, 40 more than the current aluminum winged 777-300 ER. The 777X maximum takeoff weight will be the same as the older jet. With new engines, the 777X is intended to burn 20 percent less fuel. The 777X will retain an aluminum fuselage, but with some design improvements, including larger passenger windows.
Keeping the 777 program in Washington was hard fought. Boeing says it seriously considered other states, but after a highly controversial vote by the Machinists union on an eight-year contract extension and the Washington legislature approving $8.7 billion in continuing tax breaks, Boeing kept the program in Washington.
As for the CWC, as it's known in Boeing circles, here are some factoids: The building will eventually house three ovens known as autoclaves, that bond layers of composite tape together under heat and pressure. One of the autoclaves is installed, and the others will be added as production ramps up. Each autoclave will be 28 feet in diameter and 120 feet long. The autoclaves built near the factory on Paine Field. Each one could fit two 737 fuselages inside.
Boeing says at its peak, construction of the CWC required 1,700 workers, some 4.2 million hours of construction time. 170,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured from more than 16,500 truckloads. There are 480 miles of electrical cable and some 80,000 feet of piping. The building includes 31,000 tons of steel.