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How to Tour an Aircraft Manufacturing Facility (2023)
See which commercial aviation manufacturers offer tours.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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