737 fuselages are built in Wichita Kansas and are transported by train to Renton, Washington, where the plane is assembled.

Why outsource the fuselage all the way to Kansas? The cost of moving the fuselages by rail can't be trivial. Perhaps it's because of state tax credits, or maybe because Boeing bought Spirit Aerospace which was in Wichita?

Apparently the 737 used to be built in Renton: b737.org

  • $\begingroup$ Boeing sold the commercial side of the business in Wichita to what is now Spirit Aerosystems. $\endgroup$ – selectstriker2 Dec 23 '16 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ Someone more authoritative can correct me if I'm wrong, but there's a documentary about the 787 Dreamliner that says Boeing has had a lot of problems with their Union'ed employees in Washington where the Union routinely deliberately stalled projects just to increase bargaining leverage. Boeing decided to ramp up production in other locations that did not have existing Unions and subsequently forbid Unions from forming in those locations. Essentially, the Union became too troublesome to work with, so they went around the Union, even though it meant building planes in multiple locations. $\endgroup$ – SnakeDoc Dec 23 '16 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ @SnakeDoc They can't forbid unions from forming. That's against federal law. Kansas is a "right to work" state, though, which means the unions can't require the company to hire only union workers nor can they require workers to join the union. Washington is not a rtw state so they can require those things. Makes unions much less powerful in Kansas. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Dec 23 '16 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW they can't expressly forbid them, no, but they can choose not to hire unioned employees, choose not to promote union employees, etc. That's a heck of a lot easier to do in a new plant that has no existing union. Doing that in WA would be met with immediate confrontation, and would lead to massive labor strikes... exactly the sort of thing Boeing did not want to deal with. The Union became too aggressive and problematic, and led multiple strikes during critical times on builds... Basically holding Boeing hostage until they caved to their never ending demands. $\endgroup$ – SnakeDoc Dec 25 '16 at 20:14

The Boeing 737 fuselage (among other components) in Wichita for a variety of reasons

  • Before Boeing sold the Wichita portion of the Boeing Commercial Airplanes business to the Onex Corporation in 2005, Boeing was manufacturing structures for their aircraft in Wichita. The engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, and storage resources already existed in Wichita, so it wouldn't make sense to try to move all of that back in house at another location.

  • The cost to transport large components from Wichita to Renton or Everett via train is likely more economical than to manufacture and store them at the final assembly plant

On a similar vein, Boeing also uses the modified 747 Dreamlifter to transport components between suppliers and Boeing. Wichita is one of the cities that the Dreamlifter flies into, landing at McConnell Air Force Base.

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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes the Dreamlifter also lands at Jabara. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Dec 23 '16 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ Yep, it was quite to ordeal to get it from Jabara's to McConnell. I got to see it take off from across the street. $\endgroup$ – selectstriker2 Dec 23 '16 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if a 737 fuse could fit inside a 747 Dreamlifter? Stick a smaller one in for an aviation version of turducken... $\endgroup$ – Steve Dec 24 '16 at 12:19

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