By Guy Norris in Long Beach
The final Boeing 717 was rolled out of the former Douglas Aircraft production site at Long Beach, California just before dawn today in preparation for the start of flight tests and delivery to AirTran Airways in May (pictured below).
The last aircraft officially marks the end of commercial aircraft manufacturing on the site and emerged from the now empty Building 80 assembly line that over the past 48 years has produced 976 DC-9s, 1,191 MD-80s and 115 MD-90s. A further 556 DC-8s, 446 DC-10/KC-10s and 200 MD-11s were also produced in the adjacent Building 84.
The final 717 is the 156th, and will be the 155th to be delivered, the first having been retained by Boeing. The 717 is also the last aircraft to be rolled over Lakewood Boulevard which divides the factory from the airfield and flight test site.
The older factory buildings on the airfield side of the road, mostly built in the 1940s as part of President Roosevelt's 'Arsenal of Defense' strategy, built C-47 Dakotas, A-20 Havocs, B-17 Flying Fortresses and A-26 Invaders as well as a host of post-Second World War cargo, attack and fighter aircraft.
Almost all of these buildings have now been demolished to make room for new commercial developments. The future of the Building 80 site, which sports the iconic "Fly DC Jets" neon sign (pictured below) remains uncertain.
Read a more personal account of the closure of the Douglas line by Long Beach resident and lifelong Boeing watcher, Guy Norris, Flight's US West Coast editor
See the Long Beach buildings of the Boeing company and the road (Lakeland Blvd) that separates production facilities from the airfield at Google Maps
Source: Flight International