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Boeing's Long Beach plant delivers last C-17 to Air Force

Friday, September 13, 2013

It was the end of an era at Boeing's Long Beach assembly plant on Thursday. The U.S. military took possession of the final C-17 Globemaster plane.

For more than 20 years, Boeing has been building the C-17 for the Air Force. The 223rd C-17 to be built for the Air Force was delivered during a ceremony attended by hundreds of workers at the Long Beach facility.

"It was a long run with the U.S. military, and it was a good run," said engineer Bob Grech, who joined the project 19 years ago.

The massive C-17 made its first flight in 1991, and military deliveries began about two years later, with each plane costing approximately $225 million. The four-engine plane is designed to carry more than 170,000 pounds of cargo, but it does more than fly military missions.

"This plane has supported every major national disaster during the last two decades and provides the versatility, you all know, to complete any mission anywhere, anytime," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. "This great airlifter preserves peace, saves lives and delivers hope."

According to Boeing, more than 4,000 employees in Long Beach have worked on building the C-17s. Across the country, it has also produced thousands of jobs for businesses connected to the project.

The Long Beach assembly line still has pending orders in the foreign market. Boeing's overseas customers include the United Kingdom, Canada, India, Australia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and NATO.

Randy Sossoman, one of the production line workers, says he's nervous about the future after the foreign orders are complete.

"What we're hoping is we'll get more foreign customers that'll last the line out a little bit where the U.S. Air Force will come in and get some more," Sossoman said. "We don't know for sure. It's kind of a hope for us."

After the ceremony, the Air Force's final C-17 took off, en route to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. - recreating the same flight the first production model took when it was delivered in July 1993.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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