The Boeing Factory Tour and Future of Flight Aviation Center
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
To reserve a Boeing Factory Tour simply contact Boeing at 1-800-464-1476 or book online at: https://tickets.futureofflight.org/public/waiver.
- 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.
- 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.
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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© 2017 Bill De Giulio