Watch the Way Boeing Transports Oversized Loads

A carefully choreographed dance across Washington State highways.

Many of us have seen fire departments utilize tillers to move ladder truck operations down tight streets. The steerable rear axle allows the truck to take sharper turns and navigate otherwise impassable streets with relative ease.

This technology is used in other applications—like oversized load transportation. With production facilities scattered across the state of Washington, Boeing relies on a modified version of a tiller to transport 100+ foot plane parts for 777s, 767s and 747s. Rather than having the steer car driver perched up above the part being transported, the driver is actually housed in a small cabin within the rear chassis (sketchy, I know).

Equipped with everything a normal vehicle has (except a throttle and a brake), the steer car driver carefully communicates with the primary driver and pilot car to navigate the multi-million dollar parts down Washington’s highways and side streets. In order to safely transport each part, all three crew members stay in constant contact at all times. If one team member makes a wrong move, it can damage the part and ruin everyone’s day.

Boeing Long Load Crews spend a good portion of their day on the road, making upwards of five trips a shift to ensure timely aircraft production. Now all I can think about is how the steer car driver has to reconfigure his brain every time he hops between his personal vehicle and steer car (opposite movements).