Against a bustling backdrop of cranes and dump trucks, more than 100 people gathered Tuesday in Everett, Wash. to break ground for the new Composite Wing Center that will support wing fabrication for the 777X program. BCA leaders, employees and elected officials spoke to employees and the media about the importance of the milestone, while offering personal views on the rich legacy of airplane production at the Everett site and the benefit to future generations.
“This is an amazing feat we’re embarking on here,” said Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner. “This 1 million square-foot facility (92,903 square-meters) is going to house a world-class team that will build one of the most phenomenal wings in the world; a composite wing that’s going to take us into the next century. Our investment in this building also shows how committed we are to our Boeing Washington workforce, to the region and to Puget Sound.”
Boeing has invested more than $1 billion in the Everett site to construct the new building, which is expected to be completed in May 2016 to help sustain jobs for future decades. Construction began nearly seven weeks earlier than anticipated thanks to diligent collaboration by state and local partners to expedite permitting. The importance of the building, of the 777X and of composite technology to the region’s economy was underscored in comments by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“This facility represents the beginning of the next chapter in our state’s story,’” Murray said. “Our state and our workers are going to lead the way in not only producing a next-generation airplane, but we will build and grow a manufacturing facility that will revolutionize the industry.”
Employees representing the 777 and 777X programs participated in the ceremony, and all employees are provided the opportunity to have items considered for addition to a time capsule that will be sealed the site (see sidebar) and reopened 30 years from now. Several employees attending the ceremony submitted items, and spoke about the importance of maintaining a strong link between current airplane programs and those in development.
“The 777X is about change and advances, and every new generation takes something from those that came before,” said Dwayne White, a team leader on the 777 program and a 28-year Boeing employee.
“Here we will see a marriage of the technology of the 777 and the material advances of the 787, and the birth of another legend,," said White, who submitted a 777 model for inclusion in the time capsule.
Victor Reyes, a nine-year Boeing employee who is structures design lead on the 777X program, commented on the meaning of the new building.
“Having the 777X Composite Wing Center in Everett really allows us to be the center of excellence in the manufacturing of composite wings. Designing a new airplane takes teamwork, innovation and integrity and this is what will carry us into the future,” he said.
Reyes contributed a 777X photo to the time capsule, attached to three words: teamwork, innovation, and integrity. “I think that symbolizes what the people of Boeing are all about. And what this 777X will need to be a success,” he said.
By Terrance Scott and Jordan Longacre