March 2015 31 The end of C-17 production leaves employees with mixed emotions, but also with a great sense of accomplishment by eric fetters-walp | photos by bob ferguson This is the second of two Frontiers features about the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. To learn more, see the February 2015 issue. The C-17 aircraft progressing through the final assembly building in Long Beach, Calif., look nearly identical to the scores built here by employees during the past two decades. But these are different. They’re the final few models in production before the line shuts down. As they finish seemingly routine tasks, employees pause to reflect on using certain tools for the last time. Farewell gatherings have become common, and a large area of the huge factory building sits silent, housing idle equipment. But sadness at the program’s impending end is mixed with a sense of accomplishment for building a unique, high-performing airlifter that likely will fly for decades to come. By the time the production run is complete later this year, 279 C-17s will have been built. Of those, 223 were delivered to the U.S. Air Force. Other C-17 customers include military forces in the United Kingdom, India, Canada, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Australia, as well as the 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. “It’s been a really great ride,” said Tony Giamberdino, a Paint Shop and Ramp manager who’s worked on the C-17 program since 1993. “We keep communicating and help each other through this. We say ‘no one left behind’ up to the last day. We will go with all the pride we can and make the last C-17 as good as the first one— actually better than the first.” Boeing heritage company McDonnell Photos: (Far left) An employee-written message on part of the final C-17 fuselage to be assembled in the Long Beach, Calif., factory commemorates it as the 279th aircraft to be built. (Above) After production workers attach the massive wings of the C-17 to the body, the fuselage is ready to be moved to the next step on the final assembly line.
Frontiers March 2015 Issue
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