Tour the factory where Boeing is building the last of its legendary 747s

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

The Boeing 747 jumbo is one of the most famous planes in aviation history. The plane, referred to by many as the “Queen of the Skies,” helped revolutionize air travel for the masses when it arrived on the scene in 1969. It’s been going strong for over 40 years.

Even though Boeing has sold more than 1,500 747s, the airline industry shifted toward smaller and more fuel-efficient twin-engine jets in recent years, such as the Boeing 777. As a result, the company has had a difficult time finding buyers for the iconic jumbo jet.

But the resilient Boeing 747 is still alive and very much in production. Recently, Chris Sloan of Airways News had the opportunity to take a guided tour during Boeing’s media days of the Everett, Washington, factory where the airplane maker assembles the jumbo.

Here’s what he saw.


In the late 1960s, a group 50,000 Boeing employees came together to create the first 747 jumbo jet in an astonishing 16 months.


Although the 747 is less popular these days, it’s still featured in the fleets of such airlines as British Airways and …

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REUTERS/Toby Melville

… Delta.

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Flickr/Ikarasawa

These days, Boeing is selling the latest version of the jumbo jet, the 747-8. It’s the largest and most efficient 747 ever built.

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Boeing

Sloan’s tour of Boeing’s Everett, Washington, plant was helmed by Boeing vice president and general manager of the 747-8 program Bruce Dickinson .

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

The Everett plant is the largest manufacturing building in the world. The factory consists of 472 million cubic feet of space and sits on 98.3 acres of land.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

It’s home to 30,000 Boeing employees.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

Boeing assembles both the passenger intercontinental and freighter variants of the 747 at the plant.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

In addition, the Everett plant is also the assembly site for the 767, 777, and the 787 Dreamliner.

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Wikimedia Commons

This is where the US president’s next-generation Air Force One will be assembled.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

At the time of Sloan’s tour, Boeing had three 747s under construction at the plant, all of which were freighters.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

According to Sloan, it takes Boeing roughly 112 days to complete assembly of a new 747 — about two-thirds of the time it used to take.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

A total of 6 million components from 550 suppliers in 30 countries come together to form the 747.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

Like these landing-gear assemblies or …

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

… this part from one of the plane’s control surfaces.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

At the plant, Boeing pieces the 747’s nose …

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

… fuselage, wings, and …

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

…. tail together.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News

Ultimately, it all takes on that iconic shape. This 747-8 freighter is coming together nicely.

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Chris Sloan/Airways News