Seattle Vs Charleston – Which Boeing Planes Are Built Where?

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To those who are outside of the aviation industry, Boeing may simply be an American company, manufacturing its aircraft in the United States. However, anyone who follows the company to any extent will know that its aircraft assembly facilities are located in different parts of the United States. Tasked with putting together parts that come from across the country, if not around the world, where are Boeing’s commercial aircraft put together before being delivered to a customer?

For the past half-century, much of Boeing’s final assembly of larger aircraft has taken place in Everett, Washington. Photo: Getty Images

A global operation

Before we cover the company’s final assembly facilities, it’s important to know that Boeing aircraft components come from across the United States and around the world. For a few examples, let’s look at the 787 Dreamliner – one of the more “international” planes made by Boeing. It has the following components from the following locations (as reported by AeroNewsTV):

  • Wingtips (Busan, South Korea)
  • Wing (Nagoya, Japan)
  • Forward Fuselage (Wichita, Kansas, US)
  • Landing Gear (Gloucester, UK)
  • Horizontal Stabilizer (Foggia, Italy)

In this article, however, we’ll look at the American* final assembly facilities of Boeing’s commercial aircraft- of which there are three:

  • Everett, Washington
  • Renton, Washington
  • North Charleston, South Carolina

*It should also be noted that Boeing has had a 737 delivery and completion center in Zhoushan, China, since 2018.

Everett, Washington

It was back in May 1967 that the major assembly buildings of Boeing’s Everett facilities first opened their doors. In fact, Boeing built its Everett facility specifically to produce the jumbo jet.

With the main assembly building having grown to enclose 472 million cubic feet of space (13.36 million cubic meters), it holds the reputation of being the largest manufacturing building in the world.

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The Everett site is responsible for putting together the following aircraft:

  • 747
  • 767
  • 777

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the news, you’ll know that Boeing had produced the 787-8 and -9 in Everett (starting from 2007) but has recently decided to shut this down, leaving South Carolina to assemble all three variants of the 787 exclusively from mid-2021. Additionally, 747 production will eventually end at Everett as the entire program comes to a close.

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Moving forward, Everett’s facilities will be kept alive with 777 and 777X production, as well as non-passenger variants of the 767 – the 767F and KC-46A tanker.

It is still unclear what Boeing will do with space and facilities once occupied by the 787 and 747 assembly once the programs end at Everett. Photo: Boeing

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Renton, Washington

With its roots dating back to the second World War, Boeing’s Renton site was originally tasked with building the PB2B Sea Ranger bomber for the Navy in 1941. In 1954, the factory began producing the Boeing Dash 80. This led to the development of the Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker (first military jet tanker) and the iconic 707.

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As Boeing’s commercial jet offerings progressed, the 727 would be built from 1962, while the 737 would be assembled in Renton from 1965. In fact, Renton has been responsible for producing all iterations and generations, including the “Initial Model,” Classic, and Next Generation, and MAX.

The 757 and the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft (a heavily modified and militarized 737-800) have also been assembled at Renton.

737 MAX parking storage
In terms of recent history, Renton has been the location of photos like these, with 737 MAX aircraft piling up across the site’s open spaces due to the 2019/20 grounding.

North Charleston, South Carolina

Finally, we have Boeing’s 787 assembly facilities in South Carolina. The company broke ground on the 1.2-million-square-foot (116,794 square meters) facility in November 2009, opening the first of three facilities in 2011.

For many years, this site in North Charleston was Boeing’s second 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery facility- and lone producer of the stretched 787-10. As mentioned above, 787 production will end at Everett, leaving North Charleston to build the Dreamliner.

Beyond just assembly, Boeing notes that this site also “fabricates, assembles and installs systems for aft (rear) fuselage sections of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and joins and integrates midbody fuselage sections.”

Other 787 components manufactured here include:

  • Stow bins,
  • Closets,
  • Partitions,
  • Class dividers,
  • Floor-mounted stow bins (used by flight attendants),
  • Overhead flight-crew rests,
  • Overhead flight attendant crew rests,
  • Video-control stations
  • And attendant modules
North Charleston, South Carolina, will soon be the only site assembling the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Getty Images

A (somewhat) brief overview

Hopefully, this provides you with a somewhat brief overview of Boeing’s stateside assembly facilities, shedding light on where Boeing’s various commercial aircraft offerings are assembled.

Without a doubt, this topic could be expanded further to include the more current (and controversial) issues surrounding Boeing’s facilities. Hot topics might include issues of labor and unions, as well as questions surrounding quality control. Coverage of those topics will have to go to other articles.

Have you seen any of Boeing’s facilities for yourself? Let us know in the comments.

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