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Home of the 737

Renton, Wash.--At the south end of Lake Washington, just outside of Seattle, Boeing builds its 737 aircraft, the smallest airliner in its commercial airplane family. At present, the factory produces 31.5 737-800 and 737-900 airliners per month. By the first half of 2014, Boeing says it will increase production to 42 airplanes per month.

The Renton facility is one of Boeing's original factories in the Puget Sound Region. After beginning operations in 1941, Boeing built B-29 aircraft here during World War II. After the war, the company used the plant to build its first passenger jetliner, the 707, and later the 727, 737, and 757. Final 737 assembly now takes place in a 75,000-square-foot building that employs 9,000 people.

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Come by rail

Fuselage sections are built elsewhere and arrive at Renton on special railroad cars.

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Production line

Here's a view down the final production line inside the plant. In the foreground is a 737 built for Turkish Air, while beyond are aircraft for Air Berlin and Southwest Airlines. The aircraft at the far end of the line is still waiting for its vertical stabilizer.

Final assembly takes place in five stages. At the first position, the wings, vertical stabilizer, and horizontal stabilizer are joined with the fuselage. Next, workers install floor boards and rear galleys inside the cabin.

In the third station, the middle and forward galleys go in and workers run functional tests on pressurization; flight control and hydraulic systems; and landing gear. At the fourth stage, the cabin is outfitted with wall and ceiling panels, overhead bins, and lavatories before the final position, where carpets and seats are installed.

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Korean Air

A viewing balcony offered a close view of an aircraft ordered by Korean Air. The rudder is painted before installation to ensure that it balances correctly on the vertical stabilizer.

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Radar

With the nose cone up, workers can access the aircraft's radar dish.

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Emergency exits

Twin emergency exits line either side of the fuselage. If needed, passengers can evacuate onto the wing and down an escape slide.

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Cargo hold

An employee performs installation work in a cargo hold.

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Tour guide

Erik Nelson, Boeing's 737 manufacturing director, led us around the viewing balconies.

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Qantas

Boeing will deliver this 737 to Qantas. Before painting, the metal fuselage is a sea green color.

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Winglets

Winglets, like those seen here on the Qantas aircraft, help the airplane fly more efficiently by increasing lift and decreasing drag.

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Another producton line

A second production line is on the other side of the factory.

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Southwest Airlines

This 737 will fly for Southwest Airlines.

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Air Berlin

This 737 is on order for Air Berlin.

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Turkish Air

And this 737 is destined for Turkish Air.

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Meal service

Galleys sit ready for installation on the factory floor. Just beyond are rows of passenger seats.

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Boeing Business Jet

The Boeing Business Jet is a customized version of the 737 for private, government, and military operators.

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Full size

A view down the viewing balcony shows the full expanse of the 1,124-long building.

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Boeing Field

After completion, 737s are flown to nearby Boeing Field for painting, test flights, and final delivery preparation. Here's a view down the flight line at Boeing's commercial airplane headquarters.

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Xiamen Airlines

This Xiamen Airlines 737 is just days from delivery.

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Mt. Rainer

On a beautiful day in Seattle, Mt. Rainier is visible far to the south. 

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