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One More Thing

Prepping our aircraft for the friendly skies

Author Pete Rapalus


United’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft fly some of the world’s longest routes, but their first flight after delivery from Paine Field, in Everett, Washington, is an 18-minute hop to Seattle-Tacoma International. Likewise, each new 737-900ER that comes out of King County International makes its first flight as a United plane to the crews waiting on the ground at Sea-Tac—a whopping six miles away.

It’s at this airport that teams of United employees handle hundreds of tasks to prepare the aircraft for service. Some modifications involve systems and software, while others result in things customers see on planes every day—for example, those blue “Economy Plus” stickers on seatbacks and overhead bins.

“We’re really thrilled to get this work,” says 22-year United veteran Joe Gross. “It’s something the team really has gotten proficient at and likes to do.”

“It’s a joy to work on a brand new, pristine airplane,” agrees technician Paul Robertson.

It’s not easy work, however. To get that “No children this row” sticker between the panes in the exit-row window, beyond the reach of damage, requires technicians to disassemble and then reassemble the window.

When the work is complete, the 787s leave Seattle ready to fly customers. The 737s make one additional stop for installation of Wi-Fi and Split Scimitar winglets, and then they are ready for the Friendly Skies.

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