EVERETT -- Governor Jay Inslee toured a site on the west side of Everett's Paine Field that could easily accommodate a big composite wing plant for Boeing's new 777X program.
Boeing's Everett factory has been home to the 777 program since it began in the 1990s. The company has now built more than 1,000 of the big jets used worldwide mostly for long distance international flights.
The aerospace giant says it plans to decide by year end if it will go ahead and build a newer, more fuel efficient model. Much of the upgrade is based on a long wing built of composite plastic and carbon fiber materials like the 787. But unlike aluminum wings, the composite wing would need to be made in one large assembly that would be difficult to transport. The 777 is a larger plane than the 787 Dreamliner, and it has its composite wings built in Japan and flown into Everett aboard large modified 747-400 freighters.
But it will be sometime next year before Boeing decides where to build the 777X. Industry analysts such as Leeham & Company's Scott Hamilton says it makes sense for Boeing to build the jet in Everett. Others aren't so sure.
Last week, the Governor legally declared winning the 777X an issue of "statewide significance" because it would benefit the economy through the workforce in Everett and a network of suppliers who build parts.
But Everett is likely to have some competition. When asked if he was handicapping places like N. Charleston, South Carolina, which already has a 787 factory, Gov. Inslee responded. "I'm not in the job of handicapping, I'm in the job of winning. I want to win as many projects as I can. I believe our team needs to focus on what it can control."
One of the things the state and local governments can control is speeding up the permitting process for building such a plant, which was detailed for the governor by Paine Field Airport Director Dave Waggoner.
"We want to provide them options," Waggoner said of Boeing. "And we want to provide a short permitting and environmental review time. We want to have asked all those questions and talked to the agencies to see what mitigation is necessary and have it all in hand so they (Boeing) have a predictable time line."