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Building a Boeing 777

In an immense factory in Everett, Wash., Boeing builds its 777 aircraft. CNET tours the facility to find out how.

Kent German
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
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Nearing completion

Everett, Wash.--In one of the world's largest buildings, Boeing conducts final assembly of its 787, 777, 767, and 747 aircraft. The immense, 98.3-acre facility can produce one 777 aircraft every three days for a total of seven planes per month (Boeing will increase production to eight aircraft per month next year). It takes 49 days to complete final assembly on an airliner.

In this photo, a 777-300 for Air China is nearing completion on the production line. The engines have been installed, and the cabin interior is being outfitted with seats and furnishings.

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Balancing Act

The rudder is painted before it is installed to ensure that it balances correctly on the vertical stabilizer. Later, after the aircraft is rolled out of the factory, the rest of the 777 will be painted with the airline's full livery. In the background is a 787 destined for Royal Air Maroc.
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All in pieces

Many of the 777's sections are built in other facilities. Here you can see fuselage sections awaiting assembly. Until then, technicians begin to outfit the interior.
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Down the line

Further down the line sit more 777s in various stages of completion. The aircraft in the foreground will be delivered to Angola Airlines. The white neon sign in the background identifies the "Twin Aisle Cafe," an employee cafeteria (the 777 has two passenger aisles).
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Next stop: Angola

Most of the 777s have signs that show the airline customer. The Angola Airlines aircraft will be the fifth 777-300 for the airline.
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Full scale

Here you can see the immense size of Boeing's Everett facility. At 472.3 million cubic feet, it's the largest building by volume in the world.
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On the nose

Until it's painted, the metal skin of the aircraft is a sea green color.
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The general manager of Boeing's 777 program

Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of Boeing's 777 program, led us around the factory.
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Winging it

A crane on the factory's ceiling hoists a 777 wing frame into place. Fuel tanks will be installed inside the wing's structure while the flaps, ailerons, and skin will be added later. The factory has 26 such cranes running on 39 miles of track. A 777 crane can lift up to 40 tons.
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Section by section

Here is a 777 nose section that's just arrived at the factory. The open area at the bottom will become the wheel well that will accommodate the nose landing gear when retracted.
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Fuselage cross section

Here's a cross section of a 777 fuselage. The cargo hold will take up the bottom space while the framing above will support the floor of the passenger cabin.
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Wall section

Nearby was a section of the cabin wall complete with window holes.
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Turn around

The body section turn fixture is used to inspect 777 fuselage sections, rotating them slowly.
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Interior wall sections

Interior wall sections complete with window holes are stacked on the factory floor.
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On high

The tail section of an Emirates 777 towers above the factory floor.
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Ready for the engine

The engine pod is suspended from the wing by a pylon. In this photo, a pylon on the port wing of a 777 is readied before the engine is installed.
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Engine on

Further up the production line, an engine had already been hung below the wing.
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Out the door

At the end of the production line, a 777 is days from its roll out. Wing control surfaces have been installed, and workers are adding the final pieces. Just below the sweep of the wing on the factory wall is a screen that shows the progress of each aircraft on the line.

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