Following an evaluation effort, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chose its Everett, Wash., complex as the site for a new manufacturing plant to produce composite wing structures for the 777X program. It said the new plant would sustain “thousands of Puget Sound area jobs” for many years. Unionized workers at the Everett complex recently approved a new eight-year contract extension, the terms of which called for the company to fabricate the parts for and assemble the 777X composite wings in the Puget Sound region.
Assembly of the composite wings also will take place at Everett, with that location still to be determined.
The 777X will be a redesigned version of the 777, the long-range, wide-body, jet that is the world’s largest twin-engine aircraft.
The new jets will be available in two variants, resized versions of the current 777-300ER, with “ultra-long range capability.” Commitments for the new jets already total nearly 300, though the first deliveries are not expected until 2020.
Boeing’s new-version 777 includes a swept-back airfoil wing designed in composite materials with increased thickness and a longer span than it has adopted for previous airliners, ensuring greater payload and range, improved takeoff performance, and a higher cruising altitude.
The wings also will serve as fuel storage areas, with longer-range models able to carry up to 47,890 gallons of fuel.
Though much longer than current standard wing designs, the new wings also will have a folding tip to allow the jets to fit into smaller passenger gates.
"Locating the new composite wing center in Everett is a win for all of our teammates and partners," stated Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. "This will put our workforce on the cutting edge of composite technology and allow us to build on the infrastructure and logistics system we have in Everett. This decision will strengthen the company's competitiveness and help it grow for the long term."
Construction for the new, approximately 1 million sq.ft. plant for fabricating the wing components, is scheduled to begin later this year.