Paint job

With a fresh coat of paint and the sun shining through the doors to light it up, a brand new Southwest Airlines 737 looked gorgeous today as we officially opened a newly renovated paint hangar next to our Renton factory. The Southwest 737-700 was one of the first airplanes to be painted at the facility.


The sun shines in on our newly renovated paint hangar in Renton.

The hangar was built back in the late 50’s at the start of the 707 program. Before it closed in 1994, the hangar was also used to paint 727s and 757s. We’ve refurbished the hangar so that it can now paint all Next-Generation 737 models. In case you’re wondering, a crew of about eight painters can finish an entire 737 in about three days.


This Southwest Airlines 737-700 was one of the first airplanes to be painted in the hangar.

This hangar will play a key role as the 737 program goes up in rate. Right now, we stand at 31.5 airplanes per month. By the first half of 2014, the program will go all the way up to 42 airplanes per month. It’s great to be able to turn a piece of Boeing history into something that will be a valuable part of our future.


Looking good in blue, gold, red and orange.

Comments (8)

Daniel (Sydney, NSW Australia):

It's great to see the 737 NG doing so well. Would love to experience the Boeing Sky Interior someday.

Was just wondering Randy, will Boeing be designing an all new replacement for the 737 or only update the engines like Airbus has with their A320?

Since Boeing's been planning to increase the rate of production at Renton, I was wondering if Boeing is also considering opening another factory to boost production like its main competitor?

Randy Tinseth:

Hi Daniel,

We're still weighing a re-engine vs an all-new small airplane. Once the decision is made, you'll definitely hear about it right here.

Mike (Rochester MN):

Curious, where are the other 737s painted? If it takes three days, then capacity is around 10 a month max? Are there several paint bays inside? Or do they do them in batches?

Randy Tinseth:


We now have a total of six paint hangars for the 737s. Four at Boeing Field, one at the Renton site, and this refurbished one at Renton Field.

V V (Montréal, Québec):

This is a very interesting story. I have always been puzzled by 737 production rate increase announcement.

At one point you need to invest in order to increase the production capacity. This new paint hangar is obviously part of the necessary investment to cope with the higher production rate. I suppose you started to hire more people too. Most likely the supply chain is already aware and ready for the rate increase.

I believe you do not want to repeat the painful experience of 1997.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

It should be an interesting assessment on how Boeing determines the future of the 737 weather the plane is re-engined for a fourth generation or replaced with a 3-3 or 2-3-2 "797". 737 pros include proven design and less time in testing over a totally new airframe. "797" pros include a '21 century airframe, increased engine diameter, taller gear and an ability to stretch the fuselage more than the 737.

For the time being the 737 is doing well in orders and production and the improvements to the painting hanger shows that commitment to higher production quantity and quality of service.

Alvin Geurts (Australia):

Interesting: it takes 8 people 3 days to paint a 737. Would love to know then how many people and how many days it would take to paint a 747-8 or an A380. There's so much more to paint of those huge planes.

What would be interesting to know is:
1) On average, how many litres or gallons of paint is used to paint a plane?
2) How many colours of paint do you have in total given the amount of customers? I can already tell that the red used on Southwest is very different from Qantas red.
3) Is the final cost or price of the aircraft determined by paint colours? I recently read that in automotive paints used on cars, blues and purples are the most expensive due to the pigments required to make the colour. I believe they're approximately twice the cost of colours like whites and silvers.

Painter John (Giddings Texas):

Turns out I am an aircraft painter.. I do not work for Boeing.. I am self employed.

I believe you can physically spray an aircraft that size in 3 days.. BUT.. it takes 12 hours to air dry Jetglo.. so waiting for each color to dry will ad at least 1 day for each color applied. So more likely the complete job can be done in 7 days (4 colors as shown)
Unless you are force drying it.. still that will add a few extra hours per color. 4 colors at minimum 2 hours each, 8 hours (1 work day for 1 crew) so really 4 days

How many people do you have on the masking crew for windows and moving parts? Surely you dont paint de-icing equipment, lights, hinges, static discharge ports, antenna, Radar equipment, Tires, Wires, and other electrical equipment.. So probably add another 3 days to the process, with 8 person crew.

How many people/hours do you spend stripping the old paint? Or is this article only about painting NEW aircraft?
Stripping a Cessna 421 takes about a week with my 6 man crew.

How many hours did it take to prep all the aluminum and fiberglass, and apply the Zinc Chromate BEFORE it got to the paint shop.. Add about 4 days for all of that

How many hours did that primer sit around on the parts before it was top coated? Cus JetGlo says to scuff and reapply primer if not top coated in under 72 hours.. do you have de-lamination issues once finished?

How many labor hours did it take to prep all that old primer? Id guess about a week, unless you just skipped it.

How long does it take to design the paint scheme and the to actually apply it to the aircraft? It takes me a couple of days to lay out a basic Cessna 182 design

So really painting 1 brand new 737 from actual start of the paint process to finish is about 4 weeks.. still not bad at all, given its size.

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