Boeing was born in Seattle in 1916 and has deep roots there and in Renton, where the 737 is assembled. But the company’s biggest cluster of activity in Washington is in Everett at Paine Field. The plant on the north end of the airport was established with the launch of the 747 program. It grew to become the world’s biggest building by volume, and now all of Boeing’s widebody jets – the 747, 767, 777 and 787 – are assembled there. Here’s a brief history of Boeing in Snohomish County.
Oct. 13, 1943 — The Boeing Co. opens a shop in Everett at a former auto garage on Pacific Avenue. Workers there build bulkheads and sections for B-17 bombers.
October 1956 — Boeing moves 283 employees to facilities at the Everett-Pacific Shipyard, where they will build jigs and shipment fixtures for B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers. Eventually, as many as 1,728 work there, though employment dwindles by 1963.
March 1966 — The Boeing board of directors approves the 747 jumbo jet program, which is launched the next month when Pan American World Airways announces a $525 million order for 25 747s.
June 1966 — Boeing purchases 780 acres just northeast of Paine Field in Everett. The site of the 747 factory is chosen over locations such as Monroe, Moses Lake and Cleveland. Paine Field had been an Army and Air Force base since World War II but was little-used by the military by the mid-1960s.
Jan. 3 1967 — The first workers, about 113 of them, arrive at the 2.5 million-square-foot plant at Paine Field, which isn’t completed, to build the first 747. The factory officially opens on May 1.
Sept. 30, 1968 — The first 747 rolls out of the factory.
Feb. 9, 1969 — The first 747, named “the City of Everett,” makes its first flight. (This airplane today is on display at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle.)
1971 — At the nadir of the “Boeing Bust,” during a nationwide aerospace downturn, the company has reduced the Washington workforce from a peak of 100,800 employees in 1967 to 38,690. Later in the year, Boeing employment begins to rise.
July 14, 1978 — Launching the 767 program, United Airlines orders 30 of the new twin-aisle airplanes. Expansion of the Everett site is under way from 1979 to 1980.
August 1981 — The first 767 rolls out of the factory, with first flight the following month.
August 1990 — Boeing delivers two 747s for service as Air Force One.
October 1990 — Boeing launches the 777 program when United Airlines orders 34 planes.
July 1991 — Boeing receives a construction permit for a 50 percent increase in the size of the Everett plant, primarily to support the 777 program. Construction is completed in 1993.
June 12, 1994 — The first 777 takes flight.
2003 — Boeing announces it plans to develop a new, advanced jetliner dubbed the 7E7.
Nov. 7, 2003 — Boeing is awarded a contract to build 100 767-derived aerial-refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.
Nov. 24, 2003 — Boeing acknowledges there were ethics violations during negotiations with the Pentagon for the tanker. CEO Phil Condit resigns a week later and the tanker deal is placed on hold.
April 26, 2004 — All Nippon Airways orders 50 7E7s.
January 2005 — The 7E7 is renamed the 787 Dreamliner.
March 11, 2005 — With commercial demand evaporating and the tanker contract on ice, Boeing says it might halt 767 production.
Nov. 14, 2005 — Boeing announces it will develop updated 747 passenger and cargo jets, designated the 747-8.
July 8, 2007 — Boeing rolls out the first 787 during an extravagant ceremony. But the airplane is nowhere near completion.
October 2009 — Boeing announces it has selected Charleston, S.C., over Everett for a second 787 assembly line.
December 2009 — The first 787 makes its inaugural flight.
September 2011 — All Nippon Airways takes delivery of the first 787s.
Feb. 24, 2011 — The Air Force declares Boeing’s 767-based aerial-refueling tanker the “clear winner” in a third round of contract bidding. It will be called the KC-46.
Sources: Everett Herald archives, Boeing archives, HistoryLink.org, Wikipedia.org
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