Boeing to assemble 787-10 exclusively in S.C.

Boeing has announced it will assemble the 787-10 exclusively in North Charleston, in part because it will be too long to be transported efficiently to its Everett, Wash., plant. (Rendering/Boeing)
Boeing has announced it will assemble the 787-10 exclusively in North Charleston, in part because it will be too long to be transported efficiently to its Everett, Wash., plant. (Rendering/Boeing)

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published July 30, 2014

The newest and longest member of the 787 Dreamliner family of airplanes will be assembled exclusively in North Charleston, according to a news release from The Boeing Co.

Design of the 787-10 is currently underway in Everett, Wash., and final assembly of the aircraft will begin in 2017 at Boeing’s South Carolina facility in North Charleston. The 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft will continue to be assembled in Everett and North Charleston, the release said.

The 787-10 (Rendering/Boeing)

The Longer Dreamliner

Boeing’s 787-10 is the longest commercial aircraft in the Dreamliner family and includes more passenger and cargo space. The 787-8, which undergoes final assembly in North Charleston and in the Seattle area, has gained high praise from passengers for design and comfort. Airlines like the jet for its fuel efficiency. Boeing expects to deliver the first 787-10 in 2018.

Specification
Passengers
Nautical miles
Wingspan (ft.)
Length (ft.)
Max speed (Mach)

Source: Boeing Co.

787-8
242
7,850
197
186
0.85

 

787-10
323
7,020
197 feet
224 feet
Mach 0.85

 

The 787-10 — which will be longer than the 787-9 by 18 feet, 10 feet of which will be in the midbody section — will be too long to be transported efficiently from where systems integration work is performed in North Charleston to Everett for final assembly, the release said.

The 787-10 assembly will take place at Boeing's main campus in North Charleston. The Final Assembly building was designed with additional capacity in mind and there are no plans currently to expand it, according to Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger.

Keeping the aircraft in North Charleston exclusively will also allow the Everett facility to continue improving productivity on the 787-8 and 787-9, according to the company.

“We looked at all our options and found the most efficient and effective solution is to build the 787-10 at Boeing South Carolina,” said Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “This will allow us to balance 787 production across the North Charleston and Everett sites as we increase production rates. We’re happy with our growth and success in South Carolina, and the continued success at both sites gives us confidence in our plan going forward.”

Gov. Nikki Haley said Boeing’s announcement is “huge for South Carolina.”

“That Boeing is committing the future of the Dreamliner to our state — the first place, ever, outside of Washington State that Boeing has built a commercial airplane — lets the whole world know that South Carolina workers are the best around,” Haley said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said in an online video that the news is a “terrific vote of confidence in the South Carolina workforce.”

“This will be the most popular 787 of the series. It will solidify Boeing’s position in South Carolina and continue to draw suppliers to South Carolina, which will create more jobs,” Graham said. “So, to the South Carolina workforce and management, well done. This is Boeing understanding how valuable you are to the Boeing team.”

Jon Holden, president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751, said the union is not surprised but is “certainly disappointed” in Boeing’s decision.

“Our members have proven they are Boeing’s best chance for success for meeting production, quality and delivery expectations, on every airplane program,” Holden said. “If I could send one message to our members today, it would be this: Be proud of all you accomplish. Hold your heads high. And remember: We cower to no one.”

During a conference call last week, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney responded to a reporter asking if he was ready to retire by saying no because “the heart will still be beating, the employees will be still be cowering.” He has since issued an apology.

District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represents more than 32,000 workers at 50 employers across Washington, Oregon and California, including some employees at Boeing in Everett. In an attempt to organize employees at South Carolina’s Boeing operations, the association opened an office in March in North Charleston. Haley has said often, though, that unionized companies are not welcome in the state.

Between Everett and North Charleston, Boeing currently operates at a production rate of 10 airplanes per month. Earlier this year, the company announced it will increase that rate to 12 per month in 2016 and 14 per month by the end of the decade.

Boeing South Carolina’s final assembly rate is expected to increase from three 787s per month currently to five per month in 2016 and seven per month by 2020.

Since its launch in June 2013, the 787-10 has received 132 orders from six global customers, according to the release.

Boeing South Carolina currently employs 7,500 workers with plans to hire more as the aerospace giant builds out its IT Center of Excellence, Engineering Design Center, Propulsion South Carolina and Boeing Research and Technology manufacturing center workforces. Eslinger said it's very early in the planning stages but that Boeing does not expect to see a significant number of new hires based solely on this announcement.

“Today Boeing announced that Boeing South Carolina will be home to 787-10 Dreamliner final assembly," Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, said in a statement. "This is great news for all our teammates, our site, and our community ... and a milestone decision in the future of our growing South Carolina presence.”

Staff Writer Liz Segrist contributed to this report. Reach staff writer Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker on Twitter.

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