Long Train Runnin'

Getting ready to go up in rate on the 777 program involves many moving parts. But here’s one you may not have thought about.

Our 777 flight decks travel about 2,000 miles by rail from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita to our Everett factory. Those flight decks are packed in specially designed railcars—very large railcars—measuring 60 feet long by 12 feet, 8 inches wide. Right now, we have 16 of those railcars but need four more to handle the rate increase from 7 per month to 8.3.

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The specialized railcars for the 777 are called “deep-well” because of their unique design. (Dan Ecker photo)

The company that designed the first railcars back in 1993 has since gone out of business. But Dan Ecker, a facilities equipment engineer in Boeing’s Shared Services Group, still had the original car drawings.

“No Federal Railroad Administration or Association of American Railroads testing was required on these railcars, as we were able to build to existing drawings,” Ecker said. “We also found the original acceptance paperwork showing the case file of these railcars and when they were blessed for service.”

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Here’s what goes inside the railcars. (Dan Ecker photo)

Two of the four new cars have already been completed by Ebenezer Railcar of Buffalo, N.Y. All four new cars should be in service by this November.

This October, we start building at the new 8.3 rate on the 777 line. That airplane will be line number 1074, a 777 Freighter set for delivery in first quarter 2013. We’ll continue to track things for you—whether by train or airplane.

Comments (5)

John Spencer (Liverpool, England):

Hi Randy, loved seeing the Qatar 787 fly high over Liverpool en route to Farnborough.....and enjoyed the shots taken there.....and your blog!
I've never been to boeing YET, but I do have a question.
On your blog there are countless images taken on the production line, why are camera's not allowed in? I've been aeroplane crazy since 1966, and would love to spend some time running around there with my camera!
Also, the THY 737-900's. Why do they go to have their long range tanks fitted AFTER the airplane is completed, where are these tanks located, wouldn't it be easier to add them during the production process?
Hope you drop me a reply, but keep the blog going!!!

John

Ethan (Portland, ME):

Randy,

I grew up loving trains and later grew to love planes. This story shows the great connection they have. As a fan of the 777 it is fantastic to see good things keep coming. Best of luck in the future .

V V (Montréal, Québec):

There is also an interesting video on 737 train (click here).

Norman (Long Beach, CA):

The new railcars also look like they provide protection for the airplane components, it would be interesting to see a like railcar made for handling the 737s fuselage. I also love to see an HO scale version of the railcar for railroad modeling enthusiasts.

Kinbin (Taipei, Taiwan):

Why does Boeing continue with the 2,000 mile journey with a railcar to the station, taking several days, when it could potentially have the delivery done at its hangar front doors at Everett, and taking several hours, by sharing the use of the Dreamlifter currently put to use on the 787 airframe?

If the existing Dreamlifters are meant exclusively for the 787, make several more new upgraded Dreamlifters then, and share the cost between the programs (787 and 777).

With shortened delivery times, production rates of the 777 could potentially rise further than 8.3 per month.

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