August 2015 saw the first of three huge autoclaves delivered to the 777X Composite Wing Center at Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Everett, Washington, USA.

Manufactured by ASC Process Systems at Paine Field in Everett, the autoclave was transported to the new facility by US based specialised transport and heavy haulage company Omega Morgan.

The autoclave crosses a bridge on its way to the 777X Composite Wing Center.
The autoclave crosses a bridge on its way to the 777X Composite Wing Center.

Don Hansen, senior project manager at Omega Morgan, explained that the 540-ton autoclave, which measured 140 ft (42 m) long and had a diameter of 30 ft (9 m), was lifted onto a number of 50-tonne capacity dollies using 16 hydraulic jacks.

Push and pull trucks were then used to transport the Boeing autoclave a distance of around 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the Everett factory.

Since the combination was required to travel on the taxiways at Paine Field airport, Hansen said that all of the members involved in the delivery were flight-line trained.

“Along the route was a bridge over Washington state highway 526 that had not seen a load as high as the autoclave vessel, so the freeway was closed down for that part of the transportation,” added Jeffery Cowan, chief engineer at ASC Process Systems.

“No permits were required because we did not move on a state road or highway,” added Hansen. He explained that once the autoclave had crossed the bridge, Omega Morgan used two push trucks and one pull truck to move the unit inside the Everett factory.

“During our final push into the facility the weather changed to rain, thus we were required to add more weight to our trucks for traction.”

The autoclaves will form an integral part of Boeing’s new 120,000 sq m Composite Wing Center, where they will help bake sections of the composite wings for the new 777X aircraft.