The main area of the Future of Flight. Up is the Starship, to the right, the front end of a B727, on the bottom, a B727 cockpit.
One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is its connection to aviation. Just about 10 miles north of where I live, is the Future of Flight (FoF), which is right next to Paine Field in Everett. The FoF was opened in December 2005 with collaboration between The Boeing Company, Future of Flight Foundation, Snohomish County Public Facilities District and the Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field) with the idea of showcasing the future of commercial aviation. Even though Boeing is a supporter and offers their Boeing tour from the same location, the FoF does not limit their displays to only Boeing products, but shares the past, present, and future of all commercial aviation brands. The $23 million project attracts about 175,000 visitors from 175 different countries every year. This was all too tempting to pass up and I was invited to check out what they have to offer first hand.
The Airline Reporter himself inside the cockpit of the Boeing 727 with all the buttons and lights.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Sandy Ward, Marketing Director, and Ed Kaplania, Projects Manager (and aviation genius). For about the next hour and a half, they would be my tour guides showing me all the wonders of the FoF. The first thing I noticed was they had a Beechcraft Starship hanging on their ceiling; it was then, I knew I was going to fall in love with this place.
My favorite part of the visit was the cockpit of a Boeing 727-200. I was amazed with all the switches, buttons, lights, and fuses. I probably sat in the cockpit for 30 minutes. I felt like a 12 year old kid, having to flip all the switches and getting satisfaction from the tactile feel of each switch’s throw. Outside of the cockpit there is a virtual tour of the new Boeing 787 “glass cockpit” What a stark difference! The FoF plans to add a physical “glass cockpit” to put next to the 727’s so visitors can see first hand the vast difference. Although the newer cockpits are much more advanced, need only two (well really one) people, and have far fewer switches, there seems to be some connection lost between the pilot and plane.
Use computers around the FoF to build your own airliner. The program told me the wings were too small on this one, but I didn't care.
Around the main floor there are computer monitors where visitors can design their own aircraft (see pic to the left). They can choose fuselage size, wing size, materials, etc. As you change each option, the program tells you how many miles the plane will fly, the passenger load, the fuel efficiency, etc. I was quite entertained trying the different options and it took me a while to realize I was actually learning things about how the design affected the stats of the aircraft. I was very happy with my end result (can hold 451 people in a 2-class layout and go almost 19,000 miles — which I know any plane that can go over 12,000 miles is pretty useless, but whatever, it looks awesome). After you are happy with your design, you are able to print off a copy in the gift shop for free.
There are a few high tech and static displays that allow you to explore the workings of a jet engine (I got to climb into one, kind of scary). One is able to explore the difference between the rivet/panel approach to the old Boeing 707, versus the smooth, single panel approach to composite materials. There is a mock up of the interior of the new Boeing 787, as well as one from a 767. You can spend a few hours reading about the histories of all the commercial jets, which is almost what I did.
Yes, you can see two Boeing 787's from this view.
Then to top it off, there is a roof-top viewing area that overlooks Paine Field. To the left, one can see the hangars where all the magic happens. Straight ahead is a Dream Lifter that flies the Boeing 787 parts around the globe, and to the right are new planes (including the Boeing 787) ready to fly. They also have the traffic control on speakers, so you can hear what is going on. Unfortunately it was rainy, cold, windy, and getting dark, so I wasn’t able to stick around long enough to catch a glimpse of a takeoff. When it is clear out, one can see the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, and Mount Baker while watching airplanes taking off and landing. Yes folks, this is pretty much aviation nerd heaven (only if they had a cafe up there).
For those who like aviation shopping, have no fear — there are two options: first you have the Future of Flight gift shop, with some aviation and northwest themed items, but you also have the Boeing gift shop, where I could easily spend a few grand without thinking. I contemplated not going into either (to stop the temptation of spending money), but how could I refuse? Luckily I walked out with only one model of a Alaska Airlines Boeing 737; it took a lot of will power.
If you like aviation and you are in the Seattle area, you need to check out the Future of Flight. It is a growing collection with many new exciting features planned. Guests also have the ability to take the Boeing Tour, which I hope to return and take soon. Don’t worry, when I do, I will be sure to let you know how it goes!
SEE THE REST OF THE PICTURES HERE.
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Photo of Paine field where one of the assembly lines for the Boeing 787 are located in Everett, WA. Photo by Flight Blogger
After much anticipation, Boeing has announced they will be building their second assembly line for the Boeing 787 in Charleston, SC. As a Seattle native, this comes as disappointing news. The company will still build some of the 787’s at their Everett facility. Both cities and states have been negotiating hard to win the rights to build the facility. Flight Blogger reports that talks between Boeing and the unions broke down late yesterday, causing speculation that Boeing would choose South Carolina.
Once the dust settles on this, we will take a look at why this happened and what this means for the future of Everett, and the production of new planes. Until then, please feel free to follow Flight Blogger for up to the minute information.
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Boeing 787 at the Everett, WA plant
Is Boeing threatening to move jobs out of Washington State unless their labor union commits to a no-strike clause in the next contract? I was waiting for a bit more information on the reports of Boeing’s ultimatum to their Washington machinists’ union before blogging about it, but details have not been forthcoming since U.S. Representative Norm Dicks from Washington broke the story a couple of weeks ago:
“The whole thing comes down to, can they get a long-term agreement with the union, with a no-strike clause. That’s what ultimately has to happen here in the next two or three or four months or they are going to go elsewhere. I think if they get this agreement, they would stay.”
The no-strike clause rumor comes in the wake of Boeing’s purchase of a 787 rear fuselage production plant in South Carolina ’“ prompting concerns that Boeing will move more of its production out of the Everett and Renton, Washington plants.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO District 751, who represents Boeing’s machinists in the Pacific Northwest, issued a statement assuring members that no proposal on a no-strike clause had been presented by Boeing. They also expressed disappointment with Boeing allowing rumors to spread this way: ’œTo use politicians as microphones to deliver a message, creates problems and does nothing to improve the relationship [between Boeing and the Machinists’ Union].’ That being said, the union asserts that they will look at any possible routes to keeping jobs in the state.
Washington State greatly benefits from the two large Boeing plants, and I’m sure residents would hate to see more Boeing jobs go out of state. Boeing has also been hemorrhaging money in the delayed production of the Dreamliner Boeing 787, so I can understand their desire to avoid costly strikes that could cause further delays. Boeing’s method of self-preservation, however, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and I tend to feel for the union’s dismay over having all this leaked to the media before sitting down with labor. It will be interesting to see how negotiations pan out, and how strong public opinion will play a part.
Sources: Seattle Times, IAM District 751 Image: andyconniecox
ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner waiting for its first flight. Image from Boeing Media
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has not had very good luck.
It is Boeing’s newest jet made to be more economical and replace the aging Boeing 757 and 767’s.
The new aircraft was supposed to enter service in May 2008, but has hit a number of hurdles causing delay after delay. The aircraft had its official roll out on 07/08/07 (get it 7-8-7…cleaver), but it was just a pretty looking shell with almost no functionality (duct tape anyone?).
Delays have ranged from software issues, a strike, fasteners, contractors, supply chain and in-correct installations.
Everyone following the drama were hoping the Dreamliner’s would finally have its first flight on June 23, 2009 but it wasn’t meant to be. Boeing is now announcing that the newest delay, “stems from 18 points where the center wing box (11) meets the wingbox (12) on each side of the aircraft. The fix, once identified, will be installed on location. ”
A new airliner being developed and taking its first flight is a very exciting experience for anyone that follows the airline industry. It has been a long time since the Boeing 777 took its first flight (wow 1994) and I feel a personal connection to this project, since I live less than 15 miles from where the plane will take its first flight and I know people who have been working on the Dreamliner.
At this point, Boeing does not know when the first flight will happen, but check out FlightBlogger Jon Ostrower, who has minute by minute coverage of the events unfolding.