Sights and sounds

We opened up the 787 factory to the world’s media on Monday. It was a great event, and I wanted to share a couple of photos we took during the factory tour.


The 787 factory in Everett, in full swing as seen on Monday.


A peek inside the fifth 787 Dreamliner in production. This will be the third airplane to enter the flight test program but the first to be outfitted with a full passenger interior from the beginning.

I want to also share with you a few 787 items I’ve been saving up. I hope they’ll give you a sense of the progress we’re making on the Dreamliner program.

The first item is a short video (3:00) depicting the composite fuselage testing we did earlier this year on a 787 section 46. This is the test where we try to determine the point at which the load on a section will cause damage to the structure. I really like this video not only because it features a bunch of engineers in retro outfits, but also because it depicts the suspense and excitement around the testing as they take it to the limit.


Click on image to go to the section 46 testing video.

A second video (:30) shows last month’s 787 static test airplane move from Final Assembly to the structural testing rig at the Everett factory. Testing on this airframe will get underway this summer. The movement of the static test airplane made way in the Final Assembly area for Airplane #3 - ZA003.


Click on image to view the static airplane move video.

Finally, many of you may already have checked this out, but for those of you who haven’t, this is going to be a treat. Boeing recently worked closely with Fortune Magazine to develop an extensive photo gallery on the production of the 787 Dreamliner at our partner sites around the world.

Fortune’s reporter also put together a kind of video diary of his visit to various Dreamliner facilities. He told our team that during his visits he found the employees to have more pride and knowledge of the product than he’s ever witnessed in his career.

Comments (13)

Chris C (South Africa):

Excellent video clips! It is certainly very exciting to see the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner progressing so well on the production lines. Congratulations on the LoI from Arik Air Nigeria for 3 phenomenal 747-8Is!!

G (France):

Geez! The barrel test video is impressive.
We can see the fuselage skin buckling.

Did the skin become smooth again, as if nothing had happened, when the loads were relieved?

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

I saw the videos on the 787, the structural testing look pretty extraordinary, I hope visualization of the high limit testing can serve to insure skeptics that the use of composites for the airframe is safe.

I am glad that the 787 has been reveled to the media,
from this point on the next stage of the 787's development can proceed. I cannot wait to see the power-on in the next coming weeks.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Today, I was busy with some currency & several of the notes had 777 in the serial numbers - non-consecutive, of course. A nice touch. I've seen some of the 787 factory shots - very impressive stuff. I'm glad you guys finally showed these pictures - of how to build a Dream & the work involved. A sterling effort.

Congratulations on the Sukhoi Superjet 100 maiden flight - I understand Boeing has been a partner on that program. Also kudos for the paint on the 777F - it looks great & is yet another step closer to flight test. Finally, nice catch on the Arik Air 747-8I order - this last part really woke me up. Goodnight & Good day! Talk about sweet dreams.

CHRIS GIBSON (Australia):

Great to see the pictures. It seems that the 787 is getting back on track and that the airlines will still clamor for the remarkable new aircraft.

The Australian newspaper has a report today that Boeing is considering some flight-testing of the new bird in Australia at Alice Springs (which is in the center of the continent) I for one will make the journey to see it. It would be incredible for the Dreamliner to be flight tested in the Dreamtime country of the Australian Aborigines.

James Baloun (Palo Alto, California):

Congratulations on the successful 787 Section 46 static test. With the 787 Boeing is writing the book on composite air transport structure. The lessons learned will immediately benefit future Boeing designs.

As happens in engineering projects that push the envelope and challenge technology; by the time you finish the project you are qualified to begin the project.

Ron B (Mesa, AZ, USA):

To Chris (Australia)
You are correct about Alice Springs, see article in here:
Need to copy the URL into your browser.

So this test that will apparently happen in Alice Springs is to see how the aircraft can cope in hot weather. Just how hot does it get in Alice Springs? I wonder why go there? Why not go to Arizona, USA? It was 110 and 105 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday and Tuesday. But if it does happens that the 787 will be doing hot weather flight testing in Alice Springs, hope you do get a chance to see it.

G (France):

Congrats for the 777F progress. This program is clearly on schedule.

I hope that your 747-8 program is also on time.

Kevin Kitura (Calgary,Alberta,Canada):

It is nice to see the insulation finally going in on the first 787. Just one question! Who gets to throw the switch for power on? That could be a lot of fun assuming they got all the wires in the right holes of the electrical connectors. On second thought you might want to draw straws for that one! Good Luck!

Milt James (Mountlake Terrace, WA.):

I was a structural test mechanic at Boeing when the shop that I was a part of (922 Shop) helped with the static test of the B-52A. This was conducted in what was then the B-52 Hanger, now the Flight Test Hanger. At some point before reaching the maximum design load, the left wing was pulled from the body. It was a real tough job fitting a new wing to the body. We then completed all test objectives without further problems. As I recall we pulled the wing tip up 32 feet and pulled it down 18 feet. Can you imagine flying in a storm and the wing tip going through an excursion of 50 feet?

Yvonne Fang (Tianjin, China):

It is great.
I just love it.

Hernan Saldana (Lima - Peru):

I was in Seattle between May 27 and May 30 and of course I took my time to take the Boeing Factory tour. I had read the news about you guys opening the Dreamliner factory to the media, but I did not know that you had also opened it for the public. Therefore, I was extremely pleased when our tour guide told us that we were going to visit the 747 line, the 777 line and finally the 787 line. It was amazing and it is something that I would not definitely miss!!

BTW, when I was in the Museum of Flight, there was a quick video of how the 747 is assembled, of course, shown at a fast speed, which allows you to see how all the process actually works (since you can only see static images in the plant). You may want to put that video on the 747 observation gallery.

I even saw the Dreamlifter parked there, so that was a plus.

Finally, I can not wait for the power-on on the Dreamliner. I will keep reading to find out where that will take place.

One more thing, as time has passed everybody has dropped the suffixes (Randy 2.0, Randy Deuce, etc.) ;-)

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Two Things:

31 May 2008 – Original Date for first Boeing 787 delivery…

By now, All Nippon Airlines (ANA) of Japan should have received the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner – the world’s most advanced airliner by some distance. So far, the Boeing Company has been forced to learn tough lessons about the very nature of the program and how it was planned out and executed.

The forces of the globalized economy have made it increasingly difficult to introduce a new airliner at acceptable levels of risk. This is a direct result of employee benefits – pension & healthcare in North America versus most of the rest of the world. Indeed, this alone has been the undoing of the Big Three auto manufacturers of Detroit. Now while the company sought to reduce this risk, it put far to much emphasis on partners and suppliers to get THE JOB done. And, the fact remains that Boeing was the only company in the world capable of doing THE JOB – a reputation earned from 90-years of in-house success.

Boeing went too far in pretty much demanding the same type of quality, which it was well capable of delivering in-house – at cost. Further, the company failed to keep track of the entire effort – an effort described as the world’s largest industrial project. There were significant parts shortages at the lowest ranking tier companies – well before major assemblies reached assembly/integration points in North America – before final deliveries to the Everett Final Assembly Line.

But top management at Boeing HQ in Chicago & BCA HQ in Seattle were unaware of these problems only (perhaps) weeks before the public unveiling in July 2007. Eventually when major sub-assemblies did reach Everett, there was so much travelled work and undocumented work that the Everett floor had to install parts and re-certify parts that it had not anticipated. Of these two issues, the one that will have certainly raised the company’s ire a hundred-fold is the traceability to source of manufacturing. Traceability is a gold standard in the aerospace world – the safety of millions of lives rests on this simple practise, that insures only the highest quality certified parts are placed in airliners. (Greater emphasis has been placed on this practise since Mary Schiavo, aka Maximum Mary, took-up office at Department of Transportation.

This has been a very good practise in this business.) Because the program (or parts thereof) lacked this, finished work had to be ripped out and redone. But because of the nature of materials used on the 787, there were issues with having to repair damage to areas that were supposed to be assembled only once. This alone severely added to the 787 delays and severely damaged several suppliers’ chances of finding work at Boeing – or indeed Airbus – for the foreseeable future.

The other thing:


The Boeing Company has prided itself on the fact the certification rules for twinjet aircraft are based on Boeing's experience with the 777. The 777, has been a massive success in every measure, from operating economics to safety. In the end (or the beginning of a long career), it will be Boeing people, with many years of experience, that will carry out the testing & documenting of the 787 Flight Test phase. People may seek to question Boeing's ability to properly carry out such testing – but must be well aware of how the process works and Boeing's history in this regard. Can you really question Boeing’s – or Airbus’ – intentions so far as safety is concerned?

In any case, this is "old news", and many of these problems have been resolved with management changes, design modifications & major share purchases in the weaker suppliers. I can't wait to see this bird fly.

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