Thursday, April 27, 2006

The End Of Commercial Aviation Era In So. Cal.

Boeing assembly mechanic Norman Wade works on a Boeing 717 in Long Beach, Calif. Photo Credit: AP

From Burbank, to Glendale, to Inglewood, and Long Beach, Southern California aviation sees the passing of a major era in comercial aviation. The former McDonnell-Douglas Corporation aircraft company has produced will and deliver its last commercial aircraft next month, leaving only the C-17 Tanker aircraft contract with the military to fulfill.

Excerpts from AP via The Washington Times -

Californian aviation comes in for a landing
By Gary Gentile - ASSOCIATED PRESS - April 27, 2006

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The last Boeing 717 has left the factory.

The slender airliner, trailed by dozens of the workers who built it, was rolled out before dawn last week and towed across a boulevard to Long Beach Airport.

Its delivery to AirTran Airways next month will mark the end of seven decades of commercial airplane production in Southern California.

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"More aviation history has been made in Southern California than in any other place in the world," said Bill Schoneberger, author of "California Wings," a history of aviation in the state.

"But we've evolved. The aeronautics industry has moved from an airplane business into a systems business," he said.

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Today's workers build satellites, helicopters and unmanned surveillance drones while developing rockets and military jets that are made elsewhere.

Southern California aviation history dates to the early 1900s and features pioneers such as Howard Hughes, Jack Northrop and Donald Douglas, whose Douglas Aircraft built the DC-1 in 1933, one of the first commercial passenger planes made.

The region featured weather that accommodated year-round flying, drawing companies that produced bombers and fighter planes during World War II. Later came jetliners such as the DC-8, DC-9, DC-10, MD-80, MD-90, MD-11 and L-1011 TriStar and space vehicles that included the Apollo capsule and space shuttle. Boeing acquired the Long Beach plant in August 1997 when it bought McDonnell-Douglas Corp.

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