Sunday, January 25, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Corrected version

From Wichita to Everett, Renton

Inside the main building last week, a worker carefully covered the surface of an aluminum sheet with intricate patterns of protective tape, preparing the panel to be dipped in caustic chemicals to thin the metal in precisely defined areas.

Boeing Wichita at a glance

Boeing presence established: 1929

Size of the facility: 12.1 million square feet, about the size of the Boeing complex in Everett.

Employees: Boeing is the largest private employer in Kansas, with 12,400 employees in Wichita. Everett employs about 17,000.

Indirect jobs: 42,000 ancillary jobs are dependent on Boeing Wichita. Direct and indirect employment accounts for 15 percent of Wichita jobs.

2002 payroll: About $1 billion.

2002 business with suppliers in Kansas: $193 million

Key commercial-airplane products:

• 737 and 757 fuselages.

• 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and (proposed) 7E7 nose-and-cockpit sections.

• 737, 747, 767, 777 struts, which fasten the engines to the wings.

• 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 engine casings.

All these subassemblies go by rail to Renton or Everett.

Key military-airplane support programs:

• Bomber programs, including B-52 maintenance and upgrades.

• KC-135 airborne refueling tanker maintenance and upgrades.

• Airborne command and electronic warfare aircraft development and support.

• Maintenance and upgrades of VIP and special aircraft, including Air Force One.

• 767 modifications for refueling tankers.

Source: Boeing

A four-man team drilled through tough titanium frames as it pieced together the skeleton of a 777 flight deck.

To a deafening hammer of rivet guns in the background, another team clambered over and under a 737 wing box, the part of the fuselage that bears the weight of the wings, drilling and fastening.

Farther along in the 737 flow, a female crew of sealers crawled inside a completed fuselage, the space reeking of solvent, sealing the metal joints.

The output of this intense labor heads straight to the Puget Sound region.

Nose-and-cockpit sections for the 747, 767 and 777 travel by rail to Everett for final assembly. Complete 737 nose-to-tail fuselage barrels, 737 vertical fins and horizontal stabilizers, and 757 fuselages in sections go by rail to Renton for final assembly.

Information in this article, originally published January 25, was corrected February 1. Workers in Boeing's Wichita plant were incorrectly described in a previous version of this article as working on a 7E7 wing box. It was a 737 wing box. The 7E7 is not yet being built.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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