In Flight!

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In a sprawling campus off the city of Seattle is the stunning Boeing Factory that amazes not only by its inner workings and all that it stores but also tremendously by its sheer size. The Future of flight as the aviation centre is aptly titled, the visit to the world’s most expansive building, the largest building in the world by volume, housing an area of 472 million cubic feet of area is simply breath-taking. Whilst most of us have taken an aircraft flying either an Airbus or Boeing, the factory that produces the Boeing series is a sight to watch. Welcoming all the incoming tourists the lobby boasts of flags representing all the countries whose airlines subscribe to the Boeing brand. Happily I identified the Indian tricolour also playing a quick game of identifying all the other flags waiting for our turn to tour the Boeing Everett factory floor.

A museum adjoining the lobby makes for an interesting display of the Boeing brand through the ages, videos, presentations, mock-ups and all else showing off with pride the Boeings all the way from 707 to 787, over the many decades that the company has been in business. The Dreamliner is displayed with utmost pride as is the innovation wing of the company that has invested in sustainable strategies including sustainable flight fuel to engines that exceed expectations or aircraft interiors with optimum in-flight conditions. A very interactive platform teaches the makings of the aircrafts blue-blooded Rolls-Royce engine while some crew take the crowd into an exercise modelled purely for an audience poll. The museum is all but a prelude to the factory floor that is indeed awe-inspiring.

As the guide fills in the crowd, the bus pulls into the biggest building by volume, the Everett Factory floor. The company he reiterates, takes great care of its employees with all the required necessities, including day-care and all else embedded within the campus. Entering the factory through one of the major tunnels, the seemingly mile-long walk terminates at an industrial elevator that lifts up a crowd just as easily to the viewing deck. The tunnels are marked with fire-pipes, chilled-water pipes and all the service connections all labelled neatly that enable smooth running of the enterprise. The factory floor is a sight with six 737-jets, the latest in the market, being readied for assembly all part by part. The visitors are led on to the highest mezzanine floor getting a high-view of the entire floor. Each part of the aircraft is assembled insulated, bolted, welded, fixed and moved to the next station in the assembly line. With clear precision and accurate workings. On another side, the assembled aircrafts are all painted and readied for inspection before delivery. Colourful tails stand out with a host of airlines ready for flight.

In this area, a section of the Boeing 747-jet is displayed, it is indeed quite precarious to know the thin divide between the warm comfortable seat and the outer troposphere. A few layers of insulation and a thin metal shell are the only protection we earthly beings have while we munch on those peanuts some 30000-ft up in the air. Visitors also do get a sneak-peak at the 737s, with the all new clear to opaque changing glass and sleeker interiors. While the inventors at Boeing toil away ideating, developing, designing and bringing to life, newer and faster birds, we all can look forward to another wonderful destination at a far-end of the globe, sipping on champagne and very oblivious to the fuel in the wings or our luggage about 10 feet under, savouring every moment, in-flight!

 

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