By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Boeing Co. took another step Monday toward making a new aircraft delivery center in Everett a reality by breaking ground on the complex.
“We’re going to build a delivery center just as beautiful as our airplanes,” Jeff Klemann, vice president of Boeing’s delivery center, said at a ground-breaking ceremony Monday.
Boeing is building the new center in order to keep up with the increasing number of jet deliveries the company is making due to strong aircraft demand. The new facility will be 180,000 square feet, up from the existing center’s size of 60,000 square feet.
The company tows jetliners from the production line over to the delivery center, where the aircraft receive final preparations, including paint, fuel and tests, leading to a formal delivery to the customer. Boeing’s new delivery center will have offices, conference space and a lounge for customers. More than 150 representatives of airlines and jet-leasing companies work at the center along with Boeing employees.
Boeing has delivered more than 3,500 commercial airplanes out of its existing delivery center. That center was the site of the delivery of the first 747 in 1969, said Larry Loftis, general manager of the Everett site and the 787 program.
“This site has a great deal of history,” he said.
Aircraft deliveries are a “big deal” for both Boeing and for its customers, Loftis said. The company has learned to listen to customers’ input on designing new jets. Boeing did the same with its new delivery center.
“An airplane delivery is considered the culmination” of a long journey between Boeing and its customers, said Matthias Baschant, manager of aircraft delivery for Germany’s Lufthansa.
Boeing expects to open the new center in early 2013. The company has plans in place to handle deliveries during the interim period.
The new delivery center “is a symbol of Boeing’s long term commitment to the Pacific Northwest,” Klemann said.