Boeing’s sprawling manufacturing facilities in the greater Seattle, Washington area are ramping up to build the next-generation 777X, and a big blue piece of the puzzle has just arrived at its new home. The first of three enormous autoclaves was transported by truck to the new 777X Composite Wing Center in Everett, causing road closures and giving onlookers quite the spectacle.
Boeing’s new autoclaves are 120 feet long (by comparison, blue whales are roughly 85 to 95 feet long) and 28 feet wide while standing 40 feet tall. The machines will be used to cure wing spars and skins for the 777X, which will be made from carbon composite materials. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner also uses a composite wing, although they’re built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan and flown to Washington on one of the company’s ungainly-looking 747 Dreamlifters.
The 777X wings are special not just for being made of composites, but also because they will have a hinge mechanism that pivots the outer 11 feet upwards on each side. This ensures that the 777X can squeeze into airports’ existing gates, taxiways and runways without the need for all-new infrastructure, which has been one of the drawbacks of the Airbus A380 superjumbo.
A Boeing concept image of the 777X.
Boeing has already taken several hundred orders for the 777X from airlines like Lufthansa, Emirates and Qatar Airways. The widebody twin-aisle jet will compete with the upcoming Airbus A350-1000.
Photo credit: Boeing
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