Volume 03, Issue 11
They also went the distance
777-200LR Worldliner rollout caps the event team's big effort
BY STEPHANIE MUDGETT
When the first Boeing 777-200LR Worldlinerthe world's longest-range commercial airlinerwas unveiled in February, the event reflected the overall 777 marketing theme of "Going the Distance." But before the crowd of 5,000 viewed the ceremony, dozens of employees already had been going the distance for months, preparing to make the unveiling a success.
From start to finish, the rollout event at the Boeing factory in Everett, Wash., took about a half hour. But the 777-200LR rollout team, featuring representatives from numerous functions, collaborated during weekly meetings to plan and prepare for the Feb. 15 event. Indeed, there was a tremendous amount of teamwork, creativity, planning, patience and problem solving that occurred to make those 30 minutes successful.
"Our primary objective from the start was to have a fun, engaging and different kind of rollout that honored our customers, employees, partners and suppliers," said Gary Wicks, 777 Marketing manager.
In October 2004, three event-production companies were asked to submit bids for the rollout. St. Louis–based 141 Worldwide stood out from the others for its unique ideas, including how to build anticipation at the beginning of the show. "They also had a real human element, which was very important," added Wicks.
Robin Nunn, senior production manager for 141 Worldwide, said it took hundreds of hours of planning, design work and coordination with Boeing focals before their team arrived in Everett just days before the event.
"The months before the rollout we did computer modeling for lighting and audio design and worked on the special effects," Nunn said. Once in Everett, Nunn and his team had to work quickly and closely with Boeing Workplace Services and Manufacturing employees to set up the event. The team needed to build not only the "show" area but also separate platforms for sound, lighting and video/audio.
Nunn said one of the biggest challenges for his team was unloading the trucks and building an entire show for a test the day before the unveiling, having to take it all down for a 777 line move and then rebuilding the show in 12 hours for the rollout. "There was a phenomenal amount of work that needed to be done. This is a huge undertaking, and it takes the combined talents of many people to achieve a project of this magnitude," he added.
Turning the 40-25 Building south bayjust 350 feet wideinto a "show" is no easy task. Since it was the production company's first time working in the factory, Boeing Workplace Services had to work especially closely with 141 Worldwide.
"We had to have a good plan since we had a little more than three days to set up," said Carrie Angeles, Everett site project administrator and the prime facilities focal for the event. Three days before the event, local union riggers began setting points on the overhead steel roof structure so they could mount the lighting and speaker trusses, as well as the trusses for 50-foot-high plastic material that cordoned off the show area and created a sense of anticipation for the gathering crowd.Also involved in the setup:
The entire effort wasn't without challenges, including the triple-line move during the setup, which required coordination from Flight Line and Paint Hangar and Material Handling and Operation employees.
Angeles, who also has worked on various 767 and 777 rollouts, said there has to be a working-together attitude among all the team players and emotional resilience to be successful.
"It's worth it in the end," Angeles said. "All the employees, special guests and dignitaries who attended were very happy."
Everett 767 and 747 Program Planning and Controls schedules employee Pam Geer agreed.
"The event was well done. It is amazing how the production company and Facilities transformed the factory into a stage," said Geer, a volunteer at the event.While thousands of employees watched the unveiling from inside the factory, thousands more watched via webcast. According to SSG computing, 4,700 people saw the event via webcast. Their team set up alongside the production company's control room.
Another SSG team, Video Services, worked for hours on the rollout, including shooting, writing and editing the opening and closing videos. The team also had to set up cameras, the video switching for the webcast and recording equipment, said Linda Couvion, Video Services producer. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hours and coordination to pull one of these off. Nothing works unless we work together," she added.
Security also plays a vital part of the planning and cross-functional coordination.
"Our goal is to safely protect our personnel and our assets at these events," said Peter Stuart, Everett site Security and Fire Protection senior manager. "I consider the event a major accomplishment because we helped the team meet their rollout objectives. There were no incidents, and everyone was safe."
What takes months to plan ends quickly. Within two hours after the event, the facilities team was already fast at work taking rigging down, removing equipment off the floor and loading the production company's two semis and smaller box truck. Material Handling moved the airplane to the flight line around 5 p.m., and the airplane officially started its preparation for first flight, which took place on March 8.
So was the unveiling a success? Procurement employee Bill Friedrich thinks so.
"I liked the presentation, and viewing the airplane is always spectacular. It is nice when you can walk around the airplane, too," he said.
"I'm ecstatic," said Lars Andersen, 777 vice president and program manager. "Our intent was to emphasize people from around the world, communities, customers and suppliers, and it really came through."
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