Construction has started at Boeing’s $1 billion 777X Wing Plant in Everett after months of site preparation. When the new wing building is complete in 2016, workers will start fabricating the central parts of the 777X’s new carbon composite wings. The building will be the largest single structure under construction in Washington this year. At its peak, construction will employ 1,200 people, and consume 31,000 tons of steel and 17,000 tons of concrete.
The decision to build the wing in Everett was an about-face for Boeing. A decade ago, Boeing had decided to let a Japanese contractor build the wings for the 787 Dreamliner. The 777X wing is in most ways an upscale version of the 787 wing, except for the 777X’s folding wingtips. The company decided that carbon composites was an area where it needed to lead the technology. Chief Operating Officer for Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, explained that “the composite wing, we have decided to pull back into Boeing. We believe complex composites manufacturing is a capability we need to have internally.”
Until recently, the wing building site was merely a sea of mud and dirt, with lines of dump trucks and earth-moving equipment bringing in 530,000 cubic yards of dirt to make the site level. Now that the site is moving into the construction mode, the steel and walls will be rising rapidly.