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The Boeing Factory Tour and Future of Flight Aviation Center

Updated on September 25, 2017
Boeing Assembly Building, Everett, Washington
Boeing Assembly Building, Everett, Washington | Source

If you’re looking for something a little different to do while visiting the Seattle area, consider heading to Everett for the Boeing Factory Tour. Everett is only about 25 miles north of Seattle and can be easily reached via the I-5 freeway. The Boeing Tour lasts 90 minutes, and it starts and ends at the Future of Flight Aviation Center. The center has a number of interesting exhibits and can be visited before or after you take the factory tour.

Anyone with an interest in aviation will certainly be drawn to the Boeing facility in Everett. The assembly building is the largest building in the world based on volume and is where Boeing’s largest aircraft are assembled. During the tour, you will have the opportunity to see the assembly lines for three of Boeing’s largest aircraft including the 747,777 and the new 787 Dreamliner. It was absolutely fascinating to learn how Boeing’s newest and most technologically advanced aircraft are engineered and built and seeing them on the assembly line before you is a site to behold.

Future of Flight Aviation Center
Future of Flight Aviation Center | Source

Your tour will begin at the Future of Aviation Center, and it is recommended that you arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to your scheduled tour time. The tour will begin in an auditorium where you will be greeted and instructed on the restrictions of the tour. Be aware that no cameras, cell phones, large bags, or any other electronic device will be allowed on the tour, and the Boeing security personnel take this rule extremely seriously. After reviewing the rules and restrictions, you will watch a short movie on the history of Boeing before being led to a bus for the trip to the assembly building. On the short ride you will pass newly minted aircraft lined up on the runway and your guide will make a point to identify the aircraft and the customer. Each newly painted plane proudly displays the colors and design of the airline purchasing the aircraft.

Future of Flight Center - Flags representing countries of Boeing customers
Future of Flight Center - Flags representing countries of Boeing customers | Source

If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the Boeing Dreamlifter aircraft during your tour. This modified 747 is used to shuttle 787 fuselage parts from around the world to Everett where they are assembled in the Boeing factory. There are four Dreamlifter planes and it currently has the largest cargo hold area of any aircraft in the world. The Dreamlifter ferries parts from Italy, Japan, and Charleston, South Carolina to Everett for assembly. We were fortunate on our visit to see a Dreamlifter taxiing to the building where the 787 parts are unloaded.

The Dreamlifter
The Dreamlifter | Source

Once you arrive at the assembly building, you will enter and walk through a tunnel for a few hundred yards. A freight elevator will then take visitors to the viewing balcony, which gives visitors a great look over the factory. Our first stop was the assembly line for the huge 747. First introduced in 1970, this double-deck four engine airplane was the first wide-body airplane introduced by Boeing. Improved and modified over the years, there are a number of 747 variants flying today. With demand for very large aircraft waning and newer more fuel-efficient planes being introduced, it would appear that the 747 has a very limited future. Despite this, there are over fifteen hundred 747s flying today, and it remains one of the most recognizable airplanes ever developed.

The Boeing 777X, scheduled to enter production in 2020
The Boeing 777X, scheduled to enter production in 2020 | Source

After viewing the 747 assembly line, you will retrace your steps through the tunnel and head to the 777/787 assembly area. The Boeing 777 is another long range wide-body plane that was first introduced in 1995. With over 1,900 orders the 777 is the most successful wide-body plane ever produced. The newest version of the plane, called the 777X, is scheduled to enter service in 2020 and will have composite wings and new engines making it much more efficient than previous models.

To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything.

— Otto Lilienthal
Boeing Factory Tour
Boeing Factory Tour | Source

The final stop on the tour is a visit to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner assembly line. The 787 was introduced in 2011 after over ten years of development, planning, and testing. The plane has revolutionized air travel with numerous state of the art systems and innovations. It was the first airplane to be built using composite materials as the primary source for the fuselage and wings. It also contains numerous all electric systems replacing old hydraulic and bleed air power sources making the plane much more fuel efficient. Even the passenger experience has been improved with larger windows, improved lighting and increased cabin pressure and humidity. All of these improvements should help to drastically improve passenger comfort and get you to your destination feeling much more refreshed. To date a total of over 590 Dreamliners have been delivered to airlines around the world. With over 1,200 orders on the books Boeing will be building Dreamliners for years to come. While I have yet to actually travel in a Dreamliner I look forward to having the opportunity in the near future.

GE engine for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
GE engine for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner | Source
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After your 90-minute tour, you will be returned to the Future of Flight Aviation Center where you can continue to browse the exhibits. Of particular interest is the rooftop viewing platform, which gives visitors a great view of the Boeing facility and Paine Field where all of the test flights originate from. Interestingly, Boeing does not own the airfield but leases runway space from the county.

Inside the center are a number of interactive exhibits including full size engines from Rolls Royce and General Electric. There is also a flight simulator that visitors can experience and a number of small Boeing experimental airplanes hanging from the ceiling. It’s a great place to explore while waiting for your tour to begin or to unwind after the tour.

Future of Flight Aviation Center
Future of Flight Aviation Center | Source

To reserve a Boeing Factory Tour simply contact Boeing at 1-800-464-1476 or book online at: https://tickets.futureofflight.org/public/waiver.

Ticket Prices:

  • Adults age 16-64: $25
  • Youth age 15 and under: $15
  • Seniors age 65 plus: $23
  • Military: $20
  • Boeing employee/retirees: $10
  • Group rates are also available for parties of 15 or more.

Hours:

  • Boeing Tours and the Future of Flight Aviation Center are open year-round, except for Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving.
  • Tours start daily at 9 am and operate every 30 minutes.

Be advised that cameras and any photos are strictly prohibited while on the tour.  This photo is available under the Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution.
Be advised that cameras and any photos are strictly prohibited while on the tour. This photo is available under the Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution. | Source

While the ticket prices are on the high side, this is one of those things that you don’t want to miss and will probably only do once in your lifetime. This is the only place in North America where you can visit and tour a commercial aircraft assembly facility. If you are visiting the great Pacific Northwest, put aside at least half a day and head north to Everett for a fascinating look at how the aircraft of today and tomorrow are manufactured.

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A markerBoeing Aircraft, Everett, WA -
3003 W Casino Rd, Everett, WA 98204, USA
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    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Larry. Wow. I'll bet you'd love to crawl into one of the new airplanes today to see how much things have changed. The Boeing Tour really highlights the numerous advances that are going into aircraft today to make them more fuel efficient and comfortable. It's amazing how far aviation has come in a little over 100 years since the Wright Brothers. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Linda. We really enjoyed the tour. Very interesting to learn how far aviation has come in the last 50 years or so adn to see and hear about all the new advances that are going into airplanes today.

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      Larry Fish 3 weeks ago

      Bill, thank you for writing this article. I found it so interesting. I was an aircraft mechanic, crew chief, and flight mechanic in the Air Force many years ago, more than I care to think about. I was a crew chief and flight mechanic on C-47 aircraft built in the 1940s. To see how much aviation has progressed since that time is fascinating. It must be an amazing tour, one that I will probably never get to take.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The tour and the exhibits sound very interesting. If I'm ever in Everett, I'll make sure that I visit the areas that you did. Thanks for sharing all the information and the great photos, Bill.

    • bdegiulio profile image
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      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Flourish. My brother and I have always had an interest in aviation and we both work in that industry. I will say that they are very strict about bringing in electronic devices and they even prohibit cell phones on the tour. I agree with you that it is pricey but we were fortunate to get discounted tickets as my brother works there.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Peggy. My brother has worked there since the early 1990s so it was about time we took the tour. I have always had an interest in aviation so I found the tour to be very interesting. Thanks for stopping by, have a great week.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Bill. Thank you. We really enjoyed the Boeing Tour. My brother works there and it was something that the rest of our family really wanted to do while we were out there. A very informative and interesting morning. Hope you had a great weekend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      It's neat that they open up and make tours available to the public. So many companies do not due to security or competitive concerns. I know my husband and daughter would love to visit. I am a little surprised that they charge for the tour, particularly so much. However, if flight is something that interests you it's a nominal fee for the experience.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      That would indeed be an interesting tour. We know some good friends of ours whose son works there. Thanks for telling us about it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Been there, done that, and I highly recommend it to any visitors. As you say, Everett is a short drive and it is well-worth the effort. Thanks for the tour, Bill, and I hope your Sunday is a good one.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Susan. That’s great that your dad worked there. My brother works there. We have been out to Seattle a number of times but this was the first time we did the Boeing tour. I must say it was fascinating and we really enjoyed the tour. Have a great day.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      Bill I thoroughly enjoyed this hub. My dad used to work here.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Heidi. I remember a few years ago when Boeing moved their corporate HQ from Seattle to Chicago. If you are ever out in the Seattle area the Factory Tour is quite interesting. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Definitely something I'd like to see if I'm ever in the Seattle area! We have the Boeing corporate HQ here in the Chicago area (not a tourist destination). Thanks for sharing this with us! Have a great weekend!