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Boeing Begins Process Of Building Its 777X Composite Wing Plant In Everett

Ashley Gross
Officials including Sen. Maria Cantwell (center) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner (second from right) get ready to begin demolition work.

Everett is a step closer to becoming the home of Boeing’s next wide-body jet assembly. The company has started demolition work on three buildings that will be torn down to make way for the new 777X composite wing center. 

Wearing white hard hats and protective eyeglasses Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Gov. Jay Inslee, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner and others picked up gold-painted sledgehammers and started whacking away.

"Three, two, one: Knock down that wall!" they shouted in unison. 

Three office buildings are getting demolished to make way for the new 1.3 million-square-foot composite wing facility. This is going to be the first time Boeing produces composite wings on its own; it outsourced that production to Japan for the 787.

Inslee says winning the 777X — and building its wing here — means securing many aerospace jobs.

"It’s not just another wing, because it’s going to be lifting thousands of passengers around the world in the decades to come," Inslee said. "But it’s [also] going to be lifting tens of thousands of people who are going to drive out of these gates to go home to houses that they bought because of the payroll associated with these decades of employment."

But Jon Holden, District 751 president for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, says he thinks the number of jobs Inslee is predicting is optimistic.

"Going into composites, going into robotics, we will see fewer members due to technology," Holden said. 

Boeing has said it’s in the final stages of testing a new system of robots to fasten panels of the 777 fuselage together. Still, Holden says he’s glad the plane will be built here.

He says Boeing hasn’t given him an exact number of jobs connected to the program, but he expects it to be in the thousands.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.