In late September, two automotive engineers visiting the Boeing Future of Flight in Mukilteo got a big surprise — a Boeing factory tour.
The factory tours were indefinitely suspended in March 2020, due to the pandemic.
“They stopped us as we were going in and asked if we wanted to take a trial run,” said Jordan Fundaro, an electrical engineer visiting from South Carolina.
“We saw the 777 and 777X lines,” Fundaro said. “It was impressive!”
And free, he added.
Tours of the airplane assembly plant, which embark from the Future of Flight, will officially resume this month, the aviation center announced Thursday.
“Tickets are now available for the Boeing Everett Factory Tour! Purchase yours today,” a Boeing tweet said.
But the jet maker was apparently conducting a test drive of the tour.
The hour-long factory visit “felt pretty solid,” Fundaro said. “The tour guide said he’d been doing this for years and was ready to get back in the saddle.”
About 30 people took part, he said.
“It was awesome seeing planes get built,” said Kevin Sims, an automotive engineer visiting from Michigan who accompanied Fundaro. “But it’s a lot slower than building cars.”
Official tours get underway Oct. 5, the jet maker confirmed in a news release Thursday.
Factory Tour tickets are available for purchase online at BoeingFutureofFlight.com or in-person at Boeing Future of Flight. Tours will be offered Thursday through Monday.
“We are thrilled to reopen our factory tour experience to visitors who want to see how Boeing airplanes are assembled and learn about the company’s role as a global leader in aviation,” Christi Medlyn, Boeing Future of Flight general manager, said in the news release.
“With the rebound in travel and tourism, we are pleased to once again share this exclusive look into one of the world’s most interesting factories,” Medlyn added.
In recent years, the tour drew some 300,000 visitors a year, making it Snohomish County’s top tourist attraction.
Over the past 50 years, the tour has attracted more than 6 million visitors from around the world, the company said.
After the pandemic-induced suspension, the on-site Everett factory tour was replaced by a 45-minute documentary narrated by Future of Flight staff.
It’s in-person return is good news for the region’s tourism industry, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said.
“Snohomish County is the heart of the global aerospace industry, and people from all over the world are excited to see how the most advanced planes in the world are manufactured,” Somers said in a statement. “We appreciate Boeing’s leadership as it restarts one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. We expect Boeing’s Future of Flight Center will also see a significant increase in visitors with the restart of the tour, and that’s good for our entire community.”
“The tour experience takes you from the Boeing Future of Flight Museum to the Everett factory, the largest building in the world where tens of thousands of employees support airplane production,” according to Boeing. “You’ll see the site’s underground system of factory tunnels and visit an observation balcony with an exclusive, sweeping view of the 777 assembly line.”
The Everett factory holds the Guinness World Record as the largest building in the world by volume, spanning 98.3 acres with a footprint of more than 98 million cubic feet. It has played a pivotal role in production of iconic Boeing aircraft, including the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner, the company said.
The Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum at Paine Field, which also closed in March 2020, reopened in May under the guidance of its new owner, Walmart heir Steuart Walton.
The museum showcases the late Paul Allen’s private collection of Second World War and Cold War aircraft and vintage military vehicles.
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