Thousands of Boeing employees at the Renton, Wash. factory celebrated the 10,000th 737 to come off the production line. The milestone was recognized by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS(tm). – Photo: Boeing
The world’s most successful commercial airplane has a lot in common with a popular sugary treat.
Seriously, the first time I walked into the 737 factory in Renton, Wash. I said to myself ’œgeez, this place runs as smooth as a Krispy Kreme processing line.’
Apparently spending 12 years in the south and being a fan of the treat made me liken the two together. At Krispy Kreme stores that make the doughnuts, an automated system puts the dough into a doughnut form, fries them, and then scoops them up onto the assembly line for their final bath in frosting.
Efficiency on the doughnut line makes money for Krispy Kreme, and the same can be said for Boeing. The 737 is nicknamed the ’œcash cow’ internally. Boeing hit quite the milestone by manufacturing its 10,000th 737 in mid-March. Boeing’s Renton factory cranks out 47 airplanes a month. The company hopes to push that number up to 52 later this year.
Elephants walk around inside the factory – Photo: The Boeing Company
During the Boeing 737 Renton Factory tour at Aviation Geek Fest this year, I thought I heard the tour guide say something about elephants walking the factory floor. Wait… what? I wasn’t sure if I heard it right, or if maybe he was having some fun with the guests. I mean, I have been in the factory many times, done a few stories, but elephants had never come up. I also know that the Boeing tour guides are super knowledgeable and he mostly likely wasn’t lying. So I decided to reach out to Boeing Historian Michael Lombardi and, sure enough, the circus did come to town! Kind of — way back in the 1940s.
Take a tour inside the Boeing 737 factory in Renton, WA
Make sure you have a few hours free before continuing — because you are going to need it. Boeing recently unveiled a special website where you can take a 360degree (video) tour of the 737 factory. I am often asked “how can I take a tour inside the 737 factory?” This is about as close as you can get, without being inside.
Be sure to check out all the extras, with some amazing photos of the facility’s history, including some photos of new Boeing 727s that I have never seen. You are welcome and I apologize for any loss of productivity (I am not really sorry).
If you want more 737 goodness here are some of our stories:
The first 737MAX-9 with Seattle in the background – Photo: Boeing
Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 took to the skies for the first time on April 13 from Boeing’s plant in Renton, Washington. I had the privilege of being able to watch it take off with fellow aviation geeks on a hill overlooking the airfield. After takeoff, my photographer and I headed to the Boeing Delivery Center at Boeing Field in Seattle, where the plane would land that afternoon.
The Boeing 737 MAX 9 flies for the first time – Photo: Jonathan Trent-Carlson | AirlineReporter
As we waited for Captain Christine Walsh and First Officer Ed Wilson to complete their tasks in the air, Boeing treated us to boxed lunches. As we ate, Boeing Vice President/Chief Engineer and Deputy Program Manager for the 737 MAX program, Michael Teal, talked to us about the airplane and the 737 MAX family.
The first 737 MAX takes off from Renton – Photo: Chu-Yi Chuang
Yesterday, the Boeing 737 MAX successfully completed its first flight — and landing. It took off at 9:46 am (PST) to the cheers of several thousand Boeing employees and media. Wait… wasn’t that earlier than planned — it sure was!
I often poke fun of “Boeing time,” which refers to them often being late for test flights. I might not be able to use the term anymore. We will see. Either way, I was quite impressed that they took off early, but they also had some motivation — the weather.
The first Boeing 737 MAX after landing at Boeing Field
The weather reports for the day did not look great. In the morning, it was overcast and raining. Boeing wanted to complete its almost three-hour test flight, and land at Boeing Field (BFI) before things got worse. It all worked out. It doesn’t mean I kept dry, but it was well worth it!