In the final stages of assembling the C-17 Globemaster III engines and flaps go on the huge aircraft. This assembly bay is 202 feet wide and 780 feet long.
Long Beach, CA—Assembly Expo West planned to highlight the Nov. 14-15 show with a site tour of Boeing's Long Beach facilities for assembling the huge C-17. But in view of continuing terrorist threats, Boeing had to cancel the physical tour, and instead offered attendees a video walkthrough of the 1.1 million ft2 plant.
The U.S. Air Force/Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is currently being used for food drops into Afghanistan, as well as for other, classified, purposes in the war against terrorism. The plane is a high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed aircraft with a rear loading ramp, described as the largest opening ever designed in a pressurized aircraft, that can be used to deliver tanks and troops to battlefields.
Although the aircraft doesn't represent new technology—the first C-17 having flown in 1991—Boeing has made great technical strides on the manufacturing side, cutting the time to assemble a C-17 from 1.3 million hours for the first plane, to about 200,000 hours today.
The company has cut costs in manufacturing and assembling C-17s as well. Self-sealing fasteners, for example, save about $2 million per plane, according to David Eastman, business development representative for Boeing. He says that Boeing has instituted other cost saving manufacturing processes, and that accelerated improvement workshops have resulted in savings of between $9 and $12 million over the past three years.
Measuring 174 ft in length, the C-17 is 55.08 ft high, with a wingspan of 169.75 ft. The plane weighs 280,000 lbs empty, and can carry 84 tons of cargo. With a payload of 160,000 lbs, the plane can take off in 7,600 ft airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles, and land on a small, austere airfield within 3,000 ft.
Between 80% and 85% of its assembly takes place in the Long Beach plant. Boeing has a contract to supply the Air Force with 120 of them through 2004, and recently got a contract to supply four C-17s to the United Kingdom.