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Where Boeing's next-gen 747-8 comes to life (photos)

The plane maker on Sunday will formally unveil its next-gen 747-8 Intercontinental. CNET takes you inside the factory in Everett, Wash.

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Daniel Terdiman
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
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Lufthansa 747-8 Intercontinental

EVERETT, Wash.--Although aviation giant Boeing has been focused largely on its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner for the last few years, it has also been working feverishly to launch the next-generation of the most iconic airplane ever, the 747. Boeing tomorrow will formally unveil the 747-8 Intercontinental, almost exactly a year after the first flight of its cargo version, the 747-8 F.

CNET and much of the other aviation press corps today got a rare tour of the 747-8 assembly plant, deep inside the largest building in the world (by volume). For 747 fans, it was a terrific treat. For those who just wanted to see the new version of the famous plane being built, it was equally rewarding.

This is a 747-8 Intercontinental being built for Lufthansa, Boeing's launch partner for the new plane.

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Everett factory

The outside of the Everett factory, where many Boeing passenger plane models are built, including the 747, 787, and 777.
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Nose

A look at the nose section of an under-assembly 747-8 freighter.
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747-8 Front

The front of a 747-8 freighter that is in final assembly at Boeing's giant Everett, Wash., plant.
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Lufthansa up close

A close-up of the front right side of this 747-8 Intercontinental, which is under final assembly for Boeing's launch partner, Lufthansa.
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747-8 F

A side view of a 747-8 freighter in final assembly.
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Top section

A look inside the top section of a 747-8 Intercontinental that is under assembly. This plane is being built for a private Boeing customer.
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Interior main section

A look inside the main section of a 747-8 Intercontinental that is under assembly. This plane is being built for a private Boeing customer.
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Intercontinental engines

A look from the rear at the two General Electric GEnx-2B engines on the right wing of a 747-8 Intercontinental that is under assembly. This is the first of the Intercontinentals being built for Lufthansa, Boeing's launch partner on the new plane.
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Engine rear

A close-up of a General Electric GEnx-2B engine, from the rear.
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Engine open

A look at a GEnx-2B engine, with its sides open.
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Engine front

A look from the front and side of a GEnx-2B engine, with its sides open.
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Front from side

There may be no more famous silhouette in aviation than that of a 747. Here, we see the famous double-decker front of a 747-8 freighter under final assembly.
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Three 747-8s

A view across the vast floor of the Boeing Everett assembly plant, where we see three 747-8 F's under assembly.
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Landing gear

The landing gear of a 747-8. All told, a 747-8 has 18 tires, each of which has 35 layers of material.
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Engine from front

A look at a General Electric GEnx-2B engine from the front.
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Wing section under assembly

A view of a 747-8 wing waiting to be joined with one of the plane's fuselages.
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Wing from above

A look at the wing of a 747-8 freighter from above.
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Horizontal stabilizer

A horizontal stabilizer of a 747-8 freighter awaiting assembly.
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Mid spar

A mid-spar of a 747-8. There are three spars that make up each wing of an airplane, and this one provides structure for the wing. It is essentially the backbone of the wing.
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Front of wing

A close-up of the front of the plane's wing.
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Fuel jettison cone

This is the fuel jettison cone, which is used if, in an emergency, the pilot decides it is vital to ditch all the fuel from the plane.
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Fort Knox

This is the over-center wing box, a piece of the plane's skin that is meant to handle loads for the wing. It is heat bonded and heat treated, and thicker than the rest of the plane's skin. It is called "Fort Knox" because it is the strongest piece of the aircraft.
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Turn fixture

This is the turn fixture, a giant device that is used to flip the plane's fuselage over in assembly so that teams can work on either the top or the bottom.
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Wing and engine

The wing and engine of a 747-8 under final assembly.
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Up and under wing

A look up and under a 747-8 freighter's wing.
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Under wing from side

A look under the wing from the side.
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Underneath the 747-8 I

A look at the 747-8 Intercontinental from underneath its front.
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Under the 747-8 Intercontinental wing

A look at the underside of the 747-8 Intercontinental's wing as the plane sits in final assembly at Boeing's massive Everett, Washington facility.
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Proudly building the best

A poster touting Boeing's pride in its next-gen plane.
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Wiring underneath 747-8 Intercontinental

A look at the wiring underneath the main section of a 747-8 Intercontinental that is in final assembly.
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Working inside the plane

Boeing employees work inside a 747-8 Intercontinental that is under final assembly.
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Wing with no engine

The wing of a 747-8 freighter with its General Electric GEnx-2B engines not yet attached.
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Wing panel skins

These are skins that go around the section of a 747-8 where the wings will be joined.
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Wing tug

It takes two of these devices to move the 747-8's wings into place. They are too heavy to be lifted using cranes.

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