When I found out I was going to be part of a 777-300ER (Extended Range) delivery to American Airlines, my first thought was, “Do they have the right person?”
Special deliveryIt wouldn’t have been the first time I was sent an email by mistake. When I got the second email with the “congratulations,” I realized that I was one of the six lucky Boeing employees who had been chosen to participate in the delivery. Because of our commitment to quality and attention to detail, we were selected to fly to Dallas/Fort Worth on a brand-new 777-300ER.
New 777-300ER lands with special guests
I’ve been with Boeing for almost three years, working mostly on the area the mechanics call the “bonus butt-splice.” It is the circumferential joining of two sections that make the difference between the smaller 777-200ER and the larger 300ER. It’s what we call the “bonus” section. Until two years ago, we drilled this area by hand, but now we use automated equipment. Our quality is unmatched, and we drill perfect holes so we can install the fasteners while maintaining great skin quality.
Being a part of a delivery event and being invited to fly to DFW on a 777-300ER was more than just an honor — it was recognition from people I didn’t even know were paying attention to me or my work.
The entire trip was a whirlwind. It’s hard to believe what we packed into an overnight stay. The delivery flight, my first on a 777, was amazing. I had a Business Class seat, which I’m convinced would be a First Class seat anywhere else. I had no idea flying could be so comfortable. Now I understand why they call the 777 the “Cadillac of Boeing.”
Once we landed at DFW, we were treated like celebrities. Kent Powell and Andrea Huguely, our hosts from American, were amazing. They took us to see the behind-the-scenes operations of this great airline. We saw the facility where Flight Attendants are trained, as well as where the Pilots complete their training. We even got to fly the 777-300ER simulators, probably something very few people in the general public — besides the pilots — get to do. It was something I’ll never forget.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and really showed me what taking pride in the work I do means to others. I hope you enjoy flying on the 777-300ER as much as I enjoyed building it.
Steve Blanchett is a Structures Mechanic at Boeing Commercial Airplanes who works on the forward fuselage of the Boeing 777. Prior to the American Airlines delivery event, Steve had never flown on the 777, an airplane he helps assemble every day.