I have seen enough cathedrals and castles in my life. Not that I do not appreciate them but I do not want to get an overdose either. That’s why I started to appreciate factory tours a long long time ago. I happen to like to see what people do. Unfortunately that is not so easy in America. Yes, there are lots of chocolate tours all over the country but honestly you don’t get so see very much, plus chocolate is not exactly an American specialty. I would have liked to see the Mercedes plant in Alabama, where they produce large SUVs like the GLE and GLS series – closed because of retooling. The BMW plant in South Carolina was also retooling and Volkswagen in Chattanooga does not offer visitor tours per se. But now in Seattle, Everett was nearby and the Boeing plant offers tours year round.
Ten to nine I was in the visitor center. Our group was about 50 people and we were ushered into a cinema to watch a short video of the history of Boeing. The cinema was all in dark blue and silver with a state of the art sound system which was so subwoofer heavy that you had to become deaf if you listened to it longer than the ten minutes the film lasted. Our guide Cherry told us the rules. No cameras, no electronic equipment and to stress the fact an officer of the company security told us the same thing this time with the grave authority of the company law. They must be afraid that someone takes a photo of the assembly hall and starts a competing business in his back yard.
We got into a white VanHool bus and went to the assembly hall which is really big. I mean really big, the largest hall in the world by volume. We got into it by way of a subterranean tunnel under the hall, a seemingly endless hall with red and white pipes for water and electricity running to the left and right on the walls. We went up an eleven story high elevator to a platform overlooking a gigantic hall where parts were assembled. In another hall we could sections of a 747 in different stages of completion. In still another hall 777s were assembled. Passenger planes for EL-AL, the Israeli airline, and Egypt Air peacefully next to each other. On the other side there were freight planes for DHL almost ready to ship so to speak.
Of course nobody touched the subject of security regarding the 737max plane and nobody asked the obvious question how in the world they had tried to put the huge new engines under a 40 year old wing construction. We all knew that this was not the place to ask such questions. We really knew better and thank God we were not asked if we would like to fly in a 737max again even if we had the choice to take an Airbus 320neo. I hope they can sort out this mess. It would be a disaster for Seattle if a company like Boeing went south.