If you have ever made a model airplane, you know the process involves making various subassemblies, then gluing them together to make an airplane. As these photos show, the process of making a real airplane is very similar.
In our last batch of photos, the fuselage had moved inside the assembly building to the fuselage make-ready station. With this group of photos, the fuselage has been moved over to the first position on the moving assembly line. Here, the wings will be attached to the body. Above, the completed right wing (with a winglet) is being moved into position over the fuselage. The outboard flaps and flap canoes are attached, along with the leading edge. The oval panels under the wing are where the fuel tanks will go, and they will be added down the assembly line.
Next, the right wing is lined up with the opening on the fuselage. The massive wing spars will run through the fuselage opening, and the wings will attach to the spars. The aft spoilers—the upper wing panels—have been deployed. At this point, the three landing gear haven’t been attached, but some work is taking place inside the forward cargo bin and in the fuselage.
This overhead view shows that the left wing is also being attached, and N8301J is starting to look like an airplane. The nose radome is installed, and clearly visible in this view is the construction jig on top of the center part of the fuselage that is used in the wing attachment process. This angle also affords a view into some of the engineering space in the building’s mezzanine.
I like this view because we can see the entire length of the assembly line, and once N8301J reaches the far end, it will be an airplane. At the left of the photo are additional newly arrived fuselages from Wichita, and in front of our aircraft are seven more aircraft under construction. It may be hard to see, but if you look almost directly next to the left wingtip of the airplane just in front of ours, you see two vertical stabilizers. One of those will be for our aircraft at the next stop on the assembly line, and we will have photos of that in the next installment.