I have always been a bit of a geek when it comes to airplanes. Yes, I’m an engineer by training, and as early as the age of 10, I used to hang out at the Geneva airport on weekends on the observation deck (they allowed people up there back then) to survey arrivals and departures and maintain my own statistics on punctuality – replete with averages, means, variances and standard deviations – before it became routine to do so in the industry. At the time, Swissair was always the best and the African airlines the worst…
It was thus a thrill to me to visit the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington (about 20 minutes North of Seattle). Dario was with me. “I don’t like this – too technical and nerdy”, he mused. My response was “now you know how I feel about all those boring fashion shows you make me attend!”
We first saw the 747-8 and 777 lines before getting to the much-awaited 787. What a marvel of engineering! This latest plane is made mostly of carbon composites and is thus 20% more fuel efficient. It can fly up to 40,000 feet at speeds up to Mach 0.85. It is sleek. The windows are much larger than on other aircraft and don’t have shades – the luminosity is controlled by buttons. There is ample storage room, galleys are cleaner and the overhead lighting (blue is best) is great.
Boeing doesn’t let one film or take photos while on the tour (I’m not sure why…), but one can catch shots of some of the 787s from the perimeter. 821 of these new-gen aircraft have been ordered so far – the largest-ever starting orderbook for a widebody aircraft program. The planes are being assembled in Everett and at a new facility in Charleson, SC.
We saw them decked out in ANA, China Southern, JAL, Air India, Royal Air Maroc and Qantas colors. ANA will be the first airline served – in late September – a few years late. I can’t wait to fly on it!!