The 787 is not merely a historic feat of engineering. The program also marks Boeing's departure from its own time-honored manufacturing practices.
Instead of drawing primarily from its traditional pool of aircraft engineers, mechanics and laborers that runs generations deep in the Puget Sound region around Seattle, Boeing leads an international team of suppliers and engineers from the United States, Japan, Italy, Australia, France and elsewhere, who make components that Boeing workers in the United States put together.
"Do you see the stupidity in that?" said James Williams, an imposing 43-year-old who has been employed by Boeing for 15 years, mostly working in factory safety.