Inside the Boeing Everett Factory and Boeing Renton Factory in Seattle

In June 2022, I was invited by Boeing to Seattle for a series of briefings, updates and factory visits together with aviation reporters from Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States, as part of the US aircraft manufacturer’s pre-Farnborough Media Tour.

Main highlights of this tour, in addition to the already very interesting briefings and updates, were a photoshoot of a unique line-up of the entire family of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the Boeing Seattle Delivery Center at Boeing Field and visits to the Boeing Everett Factory and Boeing Renton Factory, where the US aircraft manufacturer has its respective widebody and narrowbody final assembly lines.


Boeing Everett Factory

Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet

At the end of this year, Boeing will close the final assembly line of its iconic Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, the ‘Queen of the Skies’. Hence this was our final opportunity to visit the Boeing 747 final assembly line and see a Jumbo Jet wearing the distinctive green protective coating in the world’s largest building by volume.

Boeing Everett Factory.

Boeing produces only one variant of the Jumbo Jet today: the Boeing 747-8F freighter. Over the last fifty years, however, many versions of the Jumbo Jet have been built, including the best-selling Boeing 747-400 variant.

The final batch of four 747s will go to Atlas Air, which ordered these four Boeing 747-8F freighter aircraft in order to operate flights between China and the United States on behalf of Alibaba logistics company Cainiao.

The first aircraft, N860GT, was delivered to Atlas Air on 2 June 2022. The Jumbo Jet we got to see during our 747 mezzanine and floor walk on the final assembly line was the third to last Boeing 747 to be built, line number 1572. This aircraft will eventually be registered as N861GT. It is expected to be delivered in July 2022. The final Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet will be delivered to Atlas Air in November 2022. The images below clearly depict the green protective coating. Note also the yellow blocks to substitute for the weight of the engines that have not yet been installed.

Close-up of the nose section of the third to last Boeing 747-8F.


After that, the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet final assembly line will be closed. It will definitely mark the end of an era, not only for Boeing and its employees in the Boeing Everett Factory, but probably also for the entire community near Seattle and aviation professionals and aviation geeks all over the world.

In total, almost 1,600 Jumbo Jets will have been built by Boeing over a timeframe that lasted for more than half a century. Fortunately, the ‘Queen of the Skies’ will continue to fly for many years to come. Flying on a Boeing 747 as a passenger however is not easy these days, as only a handful of airlines continue to operate one or more aircraft. At the moment of writing, Lufthansa or Korean Air seem to be the safest bet if you want to fly a Boeing 747 as a passenger.

Boeing 777 / 777X

After visiting the Boeing 747 final assembly line, we were invited to visit the final assembly line of another Boeing widebody aircraft: the Boeing 777. The best vantage point for overlooking this part of the massive Everett assembly hall was a balcony where also the general public used to get a glimpse of the aircraft manufacturing process during public tours which Boeing used to offer in the past. As a direct result of the corona pandemic, however, these public factory tours have been closed since March 2020. Boeing has not yet scheduled a re-opening date on their website and could not give us a re-opening date estimate either when we asked the question during our tour.

A Boeing 777F freighter on the final assembly line at the Boeing Everett Factory.

On the balcony, we were kindly welcomed by Anna Gutierrez, Boeing’s Vice President 777/777X Manufacturing. We got a magnificent view of the highly automated final assembly line which has no more fixed tooling. We could see several assembled and yet-to-be assembled Boeing 777 aircraft, including a DHL Boeing 777F freighter with engines not yet installed, and the front and aft fuselage sections of a Boeing 777F freighter which will eventually be assembled to become ‘Abigail’, the forty-seventh Boeing 777F freighter for FedEx. In the back of the final assembly hall, we could observe some mid-fuselage sections with the wings already attached.


We also spotted a folding wingtip in the background, one of the most distinctive features of the new Boeing 777X, of which first deliveries have recently been delayed until 2025 as the US aircraft manufacturer does not expect to get the airplane fully certified before the end of 2024. Boeing has temporarily stopped production of the Boeing 777X through the end of 2023, freeing up much-needed final assembly line space to increase its Boeing 777F freighter production rate from two to three per month.

Boeing 777 final assembly line. Note the folded wingtip, a Boeing 777X feature, in the background.

Next to the Boeing 777 / 777X final assembly line, we could also get a glimpse of the former Boeing 787 Dreamliner final assembly line of the Boeing Everett Factory. The US aircraft manufactured stopped producing the Dreamliner in Everett in late February 2021 as it decided to consolidate Boeing 787 Dreamliner production in South Carolina. During our visit, we spotted several Boeing 787 Dreamliners awaiting necessary modifications and inspections after some quality defects were discovered. Boeing is currently solving these issues together with the FAA. In the meantime, the US aircraft manufacturer has stopped delivering Dreamliners. In fact, it has not delivered a Dreamliner since May 2021. Boeing however expects that it will be able to resume Dreamliner deliveries this summer.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the Boeing Everett Factory.


Boeing Renton Factory

Boeing 737 MAX

After the very interesting tour of the Boeing Everett Factory, it was time to board our bus again and take the one-hour drive via Interstate 405 from Everett to Renton, where Boeing has its 737 MAX final assembly line.

At the Boeing Renton Factory, we were welcomed by Dennis Eng, director, 737 Program Business Operations. We got detailed information on how a Boeing 737 MAX is built and assembled in the Boeing Renton Factory.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on the final assembly line in the Boeing Renton Factory.

There are a total of three assembly lines in Renton, of which only two are currently in use. Boeing would like to increase Boeing 737 MAX production rates and is confident it will be able to eventually achieve a production rate of 31 aircraft per month.

Boeing 737 MAX fuselage sections are not built in Renton itself but in Wichita, Kansas, by Spirit AeroSystems. After the fuselages are produced, they are transported by rail from Wichita to Renton. In Renton, the fuselages, wings, landing gear and engines are joined and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are fully assembled. Flight testing is done at Boeing Field.

A Boeing 737 MAX fuselage, built by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, at the Boeing Renton Factory, after having been transported by rail.

The Boeing Renton Factory uses a three-shift system to build the Boeing 737 MAX. Moving Boeing 737 aircraft in the factory is a very critical operation, so this is only done during one of the three shifts.


Three of the five variants of the Boeing 737 MAX family are fully certified and flying for various airlines all across the world: the Boeing 737 MAX 8, the Boeing 737 MAX 8200 (a modified version of the -8 with additional seats) and the Boeing 737 MAX 9.

The smallest and the largest variant of the family, the Boeing 737 MAX 7 and Boeing 737 MAX 10, have not yet been certified. The US aircraft manufacturer is on a tight deadline however as it needs to get the certification done before the end of the year. If the Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft is not certified before the end of the year, it will need to meet new crew alert requirements as defined in the US ‘Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act’ unless it gets a waiver extension. The new criteria might result in loss of cockpit commonality between the different Boeing 737 MAX variants, additional training costs for the airlines and increased operating costs.

Boeing could not give a detailed timeline for the certification but it is working closely with the FAA and according to Mike Fleming, senior Vice President 737 MAX Return to Service, Commercial Customer Support and Commercial Derivatives Lead at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the US aircraft manufacturer has hired hundreds of engineers to focus on the certification work.


As we walked through the final assembly hall, we could observe many Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in various stages of production. We spotted several Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX, an Air China Boeing 737 MAX, a fully painted United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX and a Boeing 737 MAX for FlyDubai.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-7 nose section on the final assembly line at the Boeing Renton Factory.

We concluded our tour of the Boeing Renton Factory and thanked Dennis Eng and his colleagues for the tour and made our way back to the bus that would take us back to our hotel.

I would like to thank the Boeing Company for offering the unique opportunity to visit the Boeing Everett Factory and Boeing Renton Factory.

25 June 2022

Photos: copyright © Ivan Coninx