movable wing sections to control lift and descent. The work is so precise the holes can’t have a greater tolerance than half of a strand of human hair. Boeing Fabrication operates sites in such places as Helena, Mont.; the Salt Lake region in Utah; the Seattle area in Washington; Melbourne, Australia; and Winnipeg, Canada. Each plays a role in converting bulky-shaped metals into flight-critical jetliner parts. Portland sets itself apart with its complex assembly work, dealing with 5,800 different pieces that fit into 350 end items made from titanium, plus stainless steel culled from France or aluminum from Ohio and Maine, according to Bill O’Neill, a senior 24 BOEING FRONTIERS leader at the Oregon plant. “Portland is considered a Boeing Center of Excellence for machining hard metals” such as titanium, O’Neill said. Located 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Boeing’s final-assembly jetliner plants in Renton and Everett, Wash., the Oregon city is regarded as one of America’s most livable places. Proximity to natural wonders is a big attraction. Mount Hood is an hour’s drive away, ocean beaches 90 minutes away. Residents like to say they can ski in the morning and wade in the surf that same afternoon. “Living in Portland gives you unique things,” Iesalnieks said. “You have everything really close.” The Boeing Portland factory sits 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Portland International Airport, offering workers nonstop views of their craftsmanship in service. Low-flying jetliners pass overhead on takeoff or approach for landing. Inside the plant, big boxlike machines hum continually, churning out large, glistening parts such as the 787 side-of-body chord, which helps connect the Dreamliner wings to (continued on page 26) Photos: (Below) A machined 747 flap track is surrounded by stainless steel chips, which are recyclable. (Far right) Quality inspector Garry Frame checks a 737 auto-throttle assembly before it is shipped to Renton, Wash.
Frontiers April 2015 Issue
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