Page 19

Frontiers February 2013 Issue

It’s the world’s largest building by volume, and Bob Whittington sits in one of the many nondescript office cubicles at the center of Boeing’s sprawling Everett, Wash., factory. The cubicles are separated from the rest of factory operations by 360 degrees of soundproof glass. These cubicles, according to Whittington, were designed deliberately for collaboration—and to keep leadership connected to the aircraft and the employees who assemble them. He stands up from his desk and looks out, just as an overhead crane moves the wing of a 777 the length of the factory floor. About 30 feet (9 meters) from his desk is the fuselage. Whittington is a vice president and chief project engineer of the 777 program. This plane is his baby. “The idea that you can make something that is 775,000 pounds (350,000 kilograms) of aluminum, fuel and people launch off the ground and fly for 17, 18 hours to the other side of the globe is still fascinating,” Whittington said like a proud father. “It seems like magic, yet we do it every day.” The big, twin-engine jet, which entered service with United Airlines in 1995, had its best order year ever in 2011 with 200 firm orders, surpassing the previous record of 154 orders set in 2005. The program delivered the 1,000th 777 early last year, a milestone reached faster than any twin-aisle program in history. With only two engines, the 777 was so much more efficient than the competing four-engine A340 that Airbus ended production of its plane. Orders for the 777 keep rolling in, and to meet demand, production rates are now at 8.3 planes a month, or 100 a year. Meanwhile, Boeing engineers are at work on what will come next in the 777 family based on talks with customers. The 777X program will build on the success that has followed each new model of the 777. And Whittington is right in the middle of it all. As chief project engineer for the 777, Whittington has the responsibility— and vision—for strategy, development and design oversight, as well as the compliance, certification and safety of all 777 models, and post-delivery BOEING FRONTIERS / FEBRUARY 2013 19


Frontiers February 2013 Issue
To see the actual publication please follow the link above