Boeing has marked the completion of C-17 Globemaster final assembly at its Long Beach, California plant.
The last of 279 C-17s to be built at Long Beach flew over the assembly facility there on Sunday (US time) before heading to the company’s San Antonio site for short-term storage ahead of delivery to Qatar early next year.
“This is truly the end of an era. It’s a sad day, but one that all of the Boeing employees and suppliers who have worked over the years building this great aircraft can be proud of,” Nan Bouchard, vice president and C-17 program manager, said in a statement.
“Our team’s work and dedication and professionalism created one of the world’s leading airlifters, a plane that is at the forefront for providing humanitarian aid and has changed the way the US Air Force and our international partners mobilise for operations and aeromedical support,” Bouchard said.
Boeing – which will continue to provide support, maintenance and upgrades for the worldwide Globemaster fleet – announced in September 2013 that it would shut down the C-17 line. At that time 2,200 employees were involved on the C-17 program.
The Qatari aircraft is one for four set to be delivered to the Gulf state in 2016, and is one of 10 C-17s Boeing built as “white tails” – aircraft built without a customer order. Of those, nine have been sold – the four for Qatar, two for Australia, two for the United Arab Emirates and one for Canada. Aviation Weeks reports that one airframe remains unsold and is in storage in Texas.
Since first flight in September 1991 the global C-17 fleet, including 223 delivered to the US Air Force, has amassed more than three million flight hours, Boeing said.
The Royal Australian Air Force has eight C-17s in service, welcoming its final C-17 delivery on November 4 at RAAF Base Amberley.
The final C-17’s departure also marks the end of large transport aircraft final assembly in California, and the end of an era for the former Douglas Aircraft Company’s Long Beach site, which was also home to production of the DC-8, DC-9, DC-10, MD-80, MD-11 and 717 jet airliners.
Douglas first began aircraft production at Long Beach in 1941, building C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) transports and A-20 Havoc attack aircraft there as well as the (Boeing-designed) B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.
STORY UPDATED DECEMBER 2 WITH NEW INFO ON THE ‘WHITE TAIL’ C-17S