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Birth of a Boeing

737-700, tail number N443WN, was delivered to Southwest Airlines in mid-September, 2003. Boeing begins the manfuracturing in Wichita, Kansas, then ships the fuselage to Renton, Washingon, to finish the aircraft before delivering it to the customer.

nose being lowered on to fuselage
The Nose Section is lowered in the fuselage assembly tools.
Top of fuselage is put in place
After about six weeks, the Upper Lobe is lowered into place.
Fuselage loaded on train car
The assembled body is loaded onto a dolly and is sent to be sealed before its train ride to Renton, Washington. The spray-on sealant, which has a green tint, which will remain on the fuselage during shipping and the remainder of construction, is removed before painting. The Witicha team has spent about eight weeks up to this point.
Fuselage loaded on train car
Eight days later, N443WN arrives in Renton, Washington, and enters the Final Assembly factory. Each fuselage is lifted from the train car by an overhead crane and loaded into the Systems Installation tooling area. This is where insulation blankets and electrical systems are installed. In all, there is about 36 miles of wiring in a Boeing 737-700.
Fuselage loaded on train car
Using laser alignment technology, the left wing is attached. This tool is so precise it can move the wing and fuselage 1,000th of an inch to ensure a precise alignment of the wing to the fuselage. In this position, the airplane also will "get its feet" when the landing gear is installed. Next, floor panels are installed.
Fuselage loaded on train car
The airplane then joins the moving assembly line where the vertical and horizontal stabilizer fins are attached. The moving line moves airplanes through the assembly process at a pace of two inches a minute. This is done for precision on this key part to ensure the paint, which can weigh about 11 pounds per gallon when dry, is distributed evenly on the rudder.
Fuselage loaded on train car
A mechanic installs passenger windows. Other interior parts such as ceiling panels, passenger service units, sidewall panels, carpeting, galleys, and overhead stowage bins are installed at this stage. The aircraft has now been in Renton for about three weeks.
Fuselage loaded on train car
The engines are in position as employees prepare to attach the them to the wings.
Fuselage loaded on train car
After five weeks in Renton, 15 weeks total, the completed aircraft rolls out of the Final Assembly factory building. It will be towed to nearb Renton Field where it will be prepared for its first flight.
Fuselage loaded on train car
First flight! N443WN takes off on its first flight to the Delivery Center in Seattle where it will be painted. The painting process takes less than one week.
Fuselage loaded on train car
Southwest takes delivery of N443WN, the aircraft will now fly to Phoenix, Arizona, where it will begin service in our fleet. The process has taken about 18 weeks from beginning to end.