Boeing delivers 3,000th widebody

EVERETT— Three-thousand jets delivered, thousands more to go.

On Monday, the Boeing Co. took a moment to celebrate a major feat: the delivery of its 3,000th commercial jet built at the Everett factory. It’s an accomplishment 40 years in the making.

“The number 3,000 is usually something that is associated with single-aisle deliveries,” said Dan Mooney, vice president of Boeing’s 747 jet program.

In fact, Boeing has delivered more than 5,400 of its Renton-built, single-aisle 737s over the last four decades. European planemaker Airbus has delivered nearly 3,200 single-aisle planes.

When it comes to delivering widebody jets, though, Boeing remains in a league of its own. Airbus has produced 1,600 twin-aisle planes to Boeing’s 3,000. Airbus will deliver its first superjumbo jet, the A380, to Singapore Airlines in October. The company intends to add the A350, a competitor to the 777, to its twin-aisle offerings.

For Everett workers, it all began with the company’s first delivery of a 747-100 to Pan Am on Dec. 13, 1969. Since that time, Boeing workers have built and delivered nearly 1,400 747 jumbo jets, 950 767s and 650 777s. The company plans to deliver its first 787 Dreamliner, which goes through final assembly in Everett, to Japan’s All Nippon Airways in May 2008.

On Monday, though, Korean Air was the recipient of the 3,000th jet, a 777-200 Extended Range plane.

“We are honored to receive the 3,000th airplane assembled at the Everett plant,” said J.H. Lee, president of Korean Air. “Boeing Everett employees have made high-quality, reliable airplanes that have played a critical role in the success of our airline.”

With the addition of the 777, Korean Air now has a fleet of 124 jets. The carrier plans to use the 777 to meet passenger demand for routes between North America and China.

Korean Air’s John Jackson, director of marketing in North America, says the airline has seen skyrocketing growth in travel between the United States and China. The carrier added passenger service between Seattle and China in 2005.

“We’re positioning ourselves as America’s preferred airline to China, and provide more access between the two countries than any other airlines in the world,” Jackson said.

The airline is doing so using Everett-built planes such as the 777.

“Korean Air is a shining example of an airline that continually modernizes its fleet,” said Stan Deal, vice president of Boeing’s Asia-Pacific sales.

The carrier received its first Boeing jet, a 747 cargo plane, in 1971.

On Monday, Joe Sutter, the man regarded as the father of the 747, was on hand to watch Korean Air take possession of the 3,000th Everett-built jet. The aviation industry has changed dramatically since Boeing workers began building the first 747 in Everett, Sutter said. In each of the past two years Boeing has hauled in 1,000 commercial jet orders.

“I never would have guessed it 40 years ago,” Sutter said.

The increased demand, together with the addition of Boeing’s fourth Everett-assembled plane, should push the factory to hit future milestones more quickly. Sutter estimates that Boeing will deliver its 6,000th Everett-built jet in the next decade.

Korean Air will play a part in those deliveries. The carrier has 35 additional airplanes on order from the Everett programs including 777-300ERs, 777 Freighters, 747-8 Freighters and 787 Dreamliners. Korean Air also serves as a supplier for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner.

“Korean Air is a long standing Boeing customer and partner,” Mooney said. “We look forward to many more deliveries.”

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