Boeing chooses South Carolina for its second 787 line

SEATTLE — On Wednesday, Oct. 28, Boeing Co. announced that it has chosen its North Charleston, S.C., facility as the location for a second final assembly site for the 787 Dreamliner program.

"Establishing a second 787 assembly line in Charleston will expand our production capability to meet the market demand for the airplane," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in a released statement. "This decision allows us to continue building on the synergies we have established in South Carolina with Boeing Charleston and Global Aeronautica."

He said that this move will strengthen the company's competitiveness and sustainability and help it grow for the long term.

State and local officials issued statements shortly after the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

"The best aerospace workers in the world are in the Pacific Northwest," said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen in a statement. "To build the 787 anywhere else but in the Puget Sound region is a mistake."

John Diamond, communications director for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), said in a statement that Cantwell had received a phone call from Albaugh at 4:30 p.m. EST.

"Senator Cantwell expressed concern and disappointment about the loss of a second line in Puget Sound," the statement read. "And she expressed concern about Boeing's continued business loss and the potential risk of starting up a second line in South Carolina, a state with limited aerospace engineering experience."

In Snohomish County, Executive Aaron Reardon said in a statement that Boeing's decision signals that other states want what Washington state has — a strong manufacturing base.

"The loss of the second line of the 787 will most certainly result in finger pointing," Reardon said. "I urge all parties to resist that temptation as it is counterproductive and does nothing to further our objective to be the most competitive state in the country."

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said the effect of today's decision will be widely felt in families, schools, local small businesses and community services.

"We need to pull together as never before to ensure Washington state remains the center of aerospace manufacturing nationally and internationally," Stephanson said.

Boeing Charleston performs fabrication, assembly and systems installation for the 787 fuselage sections, according to the Boeing release. Across the street, Global Aeronautica, which is partially owned by Boeing, is responsible for joining and integrating 787 fuselage sections from other structural partners.

Until the second 787 assembly line is brought on line in North Charleston, Boeing will establish transitional surge capability at its Everett, Wash., location to ensure the successful introduction of the 787-9, the first derivative model of the 787. When the second line in Charleston is up and operating, the surge capability in Everett will be phased out.

"We're taking prudent steps to protect the interests of our customers as we introduce the 787-9 and ramp up overall production to 10 twin-aisle 787 jets per month," Albaugh said.

"While we welcome the development of this expanded capability at Boeing Charleston, the Puget Sound region is the headquarters of Boeing Commercial Airplanes," he said. "Everett will continue to design and produce airplanes, including the 787, and there is tremendous opportunity for our current and future products here. We remain committed to Puget Sound."

Approximately 55 airlines have ordered approximately 840 787 airplanes since the program was launched in 2003. The 787 family of airplanes will carry 200 to 250 passengers on flights up to 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 km). The 787 will be more efficient, quieter and have lower emissions than other airplanes while offering passengers greater comfort and the convenience of direct, nonstop flights between more cities around the world, the release said.

"The 787 will provide airlines with unprecedented operating economics and efficiencies. It also will take passengers where they want to go, when they want to go, and do it more comfortably and affordably than ever before," Albaugh said. "This airplane will allow us to continue to set the standard for commercial aviation in the second century of flight."

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