For its newest 777X jetliner, Boeing has just opened the first commercial aircraft plant in St Louis, Missouri, in America’s Mid West. The giant blue autoclave seen on the video is one of the major components on this 424,000 square foot (40,000 m) plant, costing over $300 million. The vast autoclave makes for difficult transport. In order to move down streets, it was necessary to dismount traffic lights and limbo under electric power lines.
The autoclave is in fact a sort of giant pressurised oven that bakes composite materials at over 600°F (315°C). This, along with the other five autoclaves due to be installed on the site, will enable the construction of wing edge and tail parts for the 777X, starting early 2017. These will then be shipped to the Composite Wing Centre in Everett, Washington. Inaugurated last spring, the $1 billion centre is specially dedicated to the manufacture of wings for Boeing’s new long-haul aircraft.
The first 777X delivery is expected in 2020. It will come in two variants: the 777-8 and the 777-9. The aircraft will be capable of carrying 350 to 425 passengers over distances ranging from 8,700 miles (14,000 km) to 9,900 miles (16,000 km).