Boeing on Friday officially opened a new $1 billion wing fabrication plant for the 777X at its Everett, Washington campus. Called the 777X Composite Wing Center (CWC), the facility will manufacture the world’s largest carbon-fiber wings.
Completion of the new CWC building required approximately 4.2 million hours of construction time. At its peak, 1,700 contract employees worked on the project. The CWC covers more than 27 acres under one roof and will contain three of the world’s largest autoclaves, each big enough to fit two 737 fuselages inside.
Workers at the center will build wing skins and spars using automated carbon tape-laying machines. Once the skins and spars cure in the autoclaves, they’ll undergo assembly at an adjacent plant where the 777X gets put together.
The decision in 2014 to build the wings in Everett represented a hard-fought victory for the Puget Sound region after Boeing suggested it might outsource the 777X’s wing production in Japan, where Mitsubishi Heavy Industries now makes the 787’s composite wings. The extension of generous tax incentives from Washington state and concessions by Boeing’s machinists’ union eventually convinced the company to build the wings in Everett.
Boeing has collected orders and commitments for 320 of its 777X. The family consists of two models—the 777-8X, carrying some 350 seats and offering a range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles; and the 777-9X, holding approximately 400 seats and capable of flying more than 8,200 nautical miles. Boeing expects to deliver the first 777X in 2020.