How Our 787 Will Be Made
Chloe Joint, PR manager for Thomson Airways talks us through a recent trip to Dreamliner HQ in Seattle.
Until I started working for Thomson nearly a year ago, I didn’t know much about the differences between one plane and another. But after a few months working as part of the team that will bring the first Thomson 787 into service, I now find myself fascinated by our new aircraft.
I was lucky enough to be asked to accompany a journalist from The Mirror and presenter and cameraman from ITV to Seattle to see the Dreamliner production, and learn about how our 787 will be made.
We flew to Seattle just a couple of days after Boeing had brought the Dreamliner to the UK for the Dream Tour, so had already had a couple of days seeing how the interior of the aircraft looks, and seeing it fly. We were all looking forward to learning how it was made.
Our time in Seattle was fantastic – we saw Boeing’s Customer Experience Centre (complete with full scale mock ups of all the current Boeing aircraft), the Dreamliner Gallery (the ultimate shopping experience for an airline wanting to kit out their new plane) the 737 production line and Seattle itself. The highlight was, of course, the 787 production facility. All of Boeing’s aircraft apart from the 737 are made in this building – so the scale is vast. To give you an idea, all of Disneyland (including the car parks) would fit into factory.
As the central walkway between all the production lines is a kilometre long, it’s no wonder that Boeing provides bicycles for its staff to get around, and arranged golf carts for our tour.
On our way to the 787 line, we also saw 777 in production as well as 747-800. But the main attraction was definitely the 787 line. The aircraft currently spends 12 days in the factory – this will decrease down to about six to eight days by the time our first 787s are made. It is such a short amount of time because the fuselage arrives in three parts, that just need assembling together. It’s very different to a traditional aircraft that needs assembling in sections. I was really impressed how they get the fuselage from Italy, where it’s made, to Seattle. It’s all transported in an adapted 747 – the ‘Dreamlifter’.
Once inside the factory, the fuselage moves through a number of stages – from the individual sections being joined together and the wings and engines attached, to the wiring completed and seats and interior installed. It then moves to another part of Boeing’s Seattle operations to be painted into an individual airline’s livery. Until then, the only identifiable markings are the tail fin (already painted in the livery) and the banner towards the front of the aircraft detailing the customer. I can’t wait to see the first banner saying ‘Proudly building the first 787 for Thomson Airways’.