Boeing will build the composite wing for the 777X at a new center in Everett, Washington, just north of the existing Everett widebody assembly factory, the company announced Tuesday. Schedules call for the airplane to enter service in 2020.
Boeing selected the Everett site for 777X final assembly following the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 751 approval of an eight-year contract extension earlier this year. As part of the contract extension, the company agreed to fabricate the parts for, and assemble, the 777X composite wings in the Puget Sound region.
“This marks the first step in a bricks-and-mortar commitment by Boeing to build a facility that will be home to the jobs and technology of tomorrow–not in a foreign country or a distant state, but right here in the Pacific Northwest,” said IAM president Tom Buffenbarger.
The union president has come under fire from elements within the IAM for forcing a new vote for a contract extension, against the wishes of local union leadership and after the rank and file rejected Boeing’s “best and final” offer. The second vote yielded a different result, but by the narrowest of margins. Soon after the union announced the results, members still opposed to accepting Boeing’s terms charged that national leadership manipulated the vote by holding it on January 3, a time when a high proportion of senior members remained on personal break following the company’s winter closure.
Plans call for construction of the approximately one-million-square-foot facility to start later this year. Assembly of the composite wings will also take place in Everett, said Boeing, which continues to weigh alternatives for an exact site. It said it would decide on that location “in the months ahead.”
“Today we gain certainty that Washington will remain the global leader in aerospace for decades to come,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “Thanks to this tremendous investment by Boeing, we know that thousands of talented Washington workers will soon be fabricating the most technologically advanced carbon-fiber structure ever developed and the world’s next great commercial airplane, the 777X. The work at this plant also launches Washington into the forefront of advanced composites manufacturing—an industry with exciting growth potential beyond aerospace.”
“Locating the new composite wing center in Everett is a win for all of our teammates and partners,” added Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “This will put our workforce on the cutting edge of composite technology and allow us to build on the infrastructure and logistics system we have in Everett. This decision will strengthen the company’s competitiveness and help it grow for the long term.”