MIAMI — The commencement of the first assembly of Boeing’s next generation of its eponymous 777X is set to begin in less than 2 years from now. The largest twin-engined aircraft and longest airliner ever produced, the 777-9X and its stable-mate, the 777-8X will be carried aloft by an all new carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CRFP) wing. At 235 feet, 6 inches long, this enormous composite wing unfurls the longest wingspan ever manufactured by Boeing. This gargantuan assemblage handily exceeds the 747-8’s 224 feet, 7 inches foot wingspan and its predecessor 777-300ER/200LR’s wingspan of 199 feet, 11 inches. Only the Airbus A380’s wingspan, measuring at 261 feet, 1 inch exceeds the wing-span of the 777X. The 777X’s wing is so enormous in fact that the last 24 feet of wingtips will fold to accommodate current gates and taxiways. This feature was originally conceived for the first generation Boeing 777 as an option, but given the enormous scale of the 777X, the folding wing will be standard on both new ‘X’ models.

A model of the original Boeing 777 with the never adopted folding wing option. (Credits: Author)
A model of the original  Boeing 777 with the never adopted folding wing option. (Credits: Author)

Epic Wing. Epic Numbers


 

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Mark Gosnold, Boeing Construction Project Manager shows off the behemoth Composite Wing Center to journalists in Everett. (Credits: Author)

To accommodate the fabrication of such a massive wing, Boeing broke ground last October on the Composite Wing Center (CWC) in Everett. Boeing is investing over $1 billion in the facility, but this wasn’t a sure thing, at least in Everett. Construction began less than a year after a machinist’s labor vote guaranteed final assembly of the 777X in Washington State. Located on the north side of the main final assembly building, the new 1.2 million-square-foot facility is unsurprisingly a facility of epic proportions. In less than 6 months since groundbreaking, the skeleton and super-structure are rising at an impressive pace. During a tour and briefing of the under construction factory, Mark Gosnold, Boeing Construction Project Manager who is leading the build of the Composite Wing Center proudly rattled off superlative after superlative.

  • The 1,250 feet long, 950 wide, and 100 feet high Composite Wing Center boasts a steel superstructure that will have a 450-foot span free of obstructing columns – an open work area more than 100 feet wider than any of the assembly bays in the final assembly line.
  • 17 full-size construction cranes are located on-site
  • 1,050 employees, increasing to 1,200 people are working in 2 shifts from 5:30AM to 2:00am.
  • The erection of the building and its systems are expected to account for approximately 3.5 million man-hours of labor.
  • When complete, the CWC will have consumed 33,000 tons of steel, 480 miles of electrical cable, 80,000 linear feet of process piping, and 160 yards equaling 170,000 tons of concrete.
  • Due to its size and location in seismically active Washington State, the CVC’s pilings of up to 8 feet in diameter are being driven up to 100 feet into the ground.
  • The CVC covers 27 acres of land, partially cleared by the demolition of older structures.

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The site of the CWC is seen behind the Final Assembly Hall. (Credits: Boeing)
The site of the CWC is seen behind the Final Assembly Hall. (Credits: Boeing)