GE Aviation’s 100 Flights Employee Recognition Program included a two-day trip to the Emerald City of Seattle, Washington, and a visit to Boeing, one of GE’s long-time customers. This group of GE Aviation employees shared one thing in common—they all worked on the GE9X engine that will power Boeing’s new 777X airplane.
GE and Boeing also share many similarities. They both reached the century mark with Boeing celebrating its Centennial in 2016. They both retained the same company name since they launched into business. And they both grew to become significant players in the aerospace industry. Learn more about Boeing’s history.
On Day One, the group gained amply knowledge about Seattle’s history, sights, culture and tastes. Seattle was founded in 1851 by the Denny party, who traveled from the United States’ Midwest across the Oregon Trail to Portland where they took a schooner to Alki Beach in present day West Seattle. The city is home to many notable companies, such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. Boeing is the largest with more than 80,000 employees working in the Seattle area.
The first stop on the tour was Pike Place Market, which opened in 1907. The nine-acre Market houses wares from fisherman, farmers, craftspeople and small businesses. It also offers beautiful views of the Elliott Bay and the Port of Seattle, the ninth busiest port in the United States and the 46th busiest in the world.
The Space Needle was next on the sightseeing list. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair whose theme was “The Age of Space,” the Space Needle is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. The structure stands tall at 605 feet—that’s 55 times bigger than the GE9X front fan (11 feet), the world’s largest front fan of any commercial jet engine. The tower is topped by a 520 -foot saucer-shaped “top house” that provided the group with 360-degree indoor and outdoor panoramic views of downtown, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound and the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges.
Seattle is called the Emerald City due to its year-round greenery, and it is almost surrounded by water. In fact, about 41 percent of the total area of the city of Seattle is water from the Puget Sound to the West to Lake Washington on the East. This meant that a quick trip to the houseboats and floating homes on Lake Union was a must-see. The group even spotted the houseboat made famous in the 1993 film “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Among the final stop on the tour was the Fremont troll. The 18-foot sculpted troll was built in 1989 under the Aurora Bridge to help rehabilitate the area. For those mathematicians, the troll is just seven feet taller than the GE9X front fan.
The group celebrated the end of the first day at a holiday party at the Museum of Flight. The museum houses more than 160 air and spacecraft, including the world’s oldest fighter plane, the supersonic Concorde, a full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
While learning about Seattle was amazing, you could sense the anticipation on Day Two as we approached Boeing’s Everett Factory. Opened in 1968, the Everett Factory is the biggest building in the world in terms of volume and covers more than 98 acres. Inside, Boeing teams assemble the largest commercial airplanes: 747, 767, 777, 787 and the 777X. For many in the group, this experience was their first visit to Boeing. You could tell from their faces that they were in awe of the work that the Boeing employees do.
At lunch, the team dined with Boeing technicians in the Large Engine Build Up (EBU) facility where they work on GE engines like the GE90 and GEnx. “I so enjoyed meeting and hearing feedback about our engines from the Boeing EBU techs,” said Meehan Lenzer, Senior Product Manager for Ceramic Matrix Composites, at GE Aviation.
From there, it was on to see what Brock Hilliard, Senior Master Scheduler at GE Aviation called the highlight of his career—the 777X with two GE9X engines hanging underway. The airplanes are part of Boeing’s flight test program, and the team got a sneak peek inside these planes.
“Seeing everyone’s face light up with pride when they saw their contributions to the 777X is something I’ll never forget,” said Whitney Whitehead, Technical Associate from GE Aviation’s Batesville, MS facility.
“Seeing the cumulation of our collective teams’ years of hard work actually under wing on the 777X was truly incredible,” added Lenzer. “I will never forget seeing and actually boarding the two test aircraft.”
Lewis Jones, Technical Associate from GE Aviation’s Batesville, MS, facility added, “I never realized just how massive the 777X and the GE9X engine actually are. Seeing them made me very proud that the Batesville, Mississippi plant and I are part of such an amazing aircraft.”
“To be involved in the developmental phase of the GE9X with ingestion and fan blade-out testing and then to fly to Seattle to see it installed on the new Boeing 777X airplane and integrated with the fuselage and the avionics, it was very fulfilling and everyone should be very proud for their role in the implementation of all of this technological advancements,” said Daniel Evans, Production Supervision Manager at GE Aviation’s Peebles Test Operation.
The 100 Flight Experience created a special bond among these employees. “A highlight of the trip was getting to know my fellow attendees who have been supporting GE9X all over the world,” said Hilliard. “By learning more about the work they do, I gained a new appreciation for the caliber of people at GE Aviation. It’s very motivating to be part of such a hard working team.”
“Our 100 Flights experience at Boeing reinforced the importance of the work we do every day and the importance of every team’s contribution to produce a quality engine for our customer,” said Jeffrey Silvey, Senior Staff Engineer of Inspection Testing, GE Aviation’s Peebles Test Operation.
Evans summed up the experience quite well. “It is amazing to think of what GE Aviation has accomplished in 100 years of aviation and where we will be in another 100 years of flight.”
The 100 Flights Employee Recognition Program was developed as part of GE Aviation’s 100-Year Anniversary. 100 employees were randomly selected to share our history at key sites and shows around the world. They will have the opportunity to see what we do, how we do it, and why we do it, creating an experience that inspires a connection to our Purpose. Employees will see how their work directly impacts our business and the world first-hand while experiencing our rich culture and history.