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How to Tour an Aircraft Manufacturing Facility (2023)

See which commercial aviation manufacturers offer tours.

A look at the Boeing 777 assembly line in Everett, Wash. (Photo: Boeing)

Manufacturing large multimillion-dollar aircraft requires big facilities. Sometimes boasting multiple assembly lines, some of these manufacturing plants can span up to 4.3 million square feet, practically hosting small municipalities inside.

For instance, Boeing’s Everett factory holds the title as the world’s largest building by volume at a massive 18 million cubic yards. It tops the list for the world’s largest manufacturing facility, according to Fractical. Inside, Boeing offers services found in most cities, including a fire department, daycare, and gym to over 30,000 employees.

These grandiose facilities attract interest from the general public and aerospace community alike. For that reason, many manufacturers offer regular tours of their plants.

Focusing on commercial aviation, we’ll take a look at some of these tour offerings:

Boeing

The Arlington, Va.-based aerospace giant has plants scattered around the U.S. The manufacturer’s 787 assembly lines are split between Everett, Wash. and Charleston, S.C. Boeing also builds the 737 in Renton, Wash. However, the company only offers public tours of its Everett facility.

Following a COVID-19 hiatus, Boeing just recently began offering tours of the Everett facility again. Starting from the nearby Future of Flight Center, the tour is led by Boeing employees. The tour begins with a short video on Boeing’s history, visitors are then bussed over to the factory.

The 777X static model being rolled out in Everett, Wash. (Photo: Boeing)

Clocking in at about 80 minutes, visitors can expect to see the 777 assembly line while on the tour, including the company’s new 777X. According to Boeing, several enhancements have been made to the post-pandemic version of the tour, including a new path and improved visual aids.

No photography is allowed on the tour, and ticket prices do vary depending on the day.

Airbus

Unlike Boeing, Airbus manufactures commercial aircraft in several different countries, including France, Germany, and the U.S. The Toulouse, France-based company does offer public tours at some of its facilities.

Toulouse, France

Airbus’ main factory is in Toulouse where it manufactures a variety of its commercial aircraft. A bus tour of the factory along with a visit to the A350 assembly line were included in the public tours, however, it is unclear if these still regularly operate.

Per Manatour.com, tours are bookable, but selectable days show no availability. The Toulouse tourism website lists a minimum 16 Euro price tag for the tour, but does not offer a booking function.

Inside Airbus’ Toulouse A350 assembly line (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

Hamburg, Germany

Airbus primarily builds its narrow body jets in Hamburg. Located at Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport, this tour does appear available. According to the website, visitors can expect to see “not only the A320 family, but also production parts of the wide-body aircraft such as A330, A350 or the former production sites of the A380, depending on the production.” Airbus stopped producing the A380 superjumbo in 2021.

According to werksfuehrung.de, Airbus also sponsors tours at some of its smaller manufacturing sites across Germany.

The Airbus A320 final assembly line in Hamburg. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Mobile, Ala.

Facilitated through the Flight Works Alabama organization, visitors can tour Airbus’ Mobile factory for $28.50. The manufacturer does final assembly work for several of its narrow body variants – including the A220 – at this facility.

According to the Flight Works Alabama website, no photos or video are allowed and tours are limited to certain days. Originally home to Bombardier, Airbus also designs the A220 in Montreal, Quebec, but public tours are not offered.

Airbus produces A320 and A220 airplanes in Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fangzhong Guo)

Other Opportunities

In terms of commercial aircraft, Embraer does not offer public tours of its home facility in Brazil. Furthermore, Bombardier/Mitsubishi no longer builds the CRJ.

On the business or military aviation side, public tours are few and far between, especially when considering the confidentiality around some of the aircraft. With that said, though, it is always a good idea to check local listings to see if a new tour is being added.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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