My World Of Aviation Began In Engineering…
Right on the Pacific Northwest lies the lovely city of Seattle and home to the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company. It was the first city that I visited in continental United States and one that I went frequently. Honolulu, a stopover on the way across the Pacific to Seattle was my first.
I had started my Singapore Airlines (SIA) career as one of two Structure Engineers in the 1970s, looking after the structural health and safety of the airframes of the Boeing 737s, the aging 707s and the then-new 747s.
SIA All-Boeing Fleet Then…
I was fortunate to have a senior engineer who was kind and so very willing to teach and share his vast technical experience. He was my first real mentor at the workplace. That early part of my aviation career had given me many great associations with the Boeing engineers, both in Renton and in Everret, as well as SIA’s team of well-trained Licensed Aircraft Engineers and my department’s Technical Services Engineers. Hitherto, SIA had been a loyal and firm customer of Boeing, operating an all-Boeing fleet. Seattle was my second home.
Imagine my excitement when I re-visited Seattle last week with my wife, she for the first time and I had a total of about 150 days over many trips. Known for its rather wet weather, Seattle did not disappoint. She gave us four days of sunshine and a lovely spring.
You will be bewildered by the choices available to visit and sample her attractions and great choices of cuisines and seafoods. There’s the first ever Starbucks outlet in Pike Place if you are in the mood for some nostalgia. You can walk, cycle, fly, take a boat or a ferry ride. You can even rent and ride a Segway.
The only availabilty to tour the Boeing commercial jet assembly plant is via the Future of Flight Center, located nearby. The plant is the largest building, by volume, in the world. For the aviation enthusiasts, the Center enables them to explore the dynamics of flight and new aviation innovations.
For me, it was the opportunity to see and touch the new reinforced carbon composite structures (at the Center I should add) used on the state-of-the-art airframe of the new , the Boeing Dreamliner 787. No more corrosion problems of the aluminium structures of the 707s, 737s and the 747s.
During the behind-the-scenes visit of the Boeing assembly plant (no cameras, no videos, no personal items allowed), I saw for the first time the new assembly line procedures introduced for the 777 and the 787. The airframes were moved along the assembly line at various stages of assembly, and not stay static like for the 747s.
For me, the tour was an education in technological progress in commercial airplanes. Remember this when you next fly on the new-gen airplanes.
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