Boeing plans to complete the final assembly of its stretched 787-10 Dreamliner, the longest variation of the 787, exclusively at its North Charleston, S.C. plant, the company said this week.
Its South Carolina plant is nonunion. It will be the first Boeing commercial jetliner to be built exclusively in a non-union facility.
Boeing will continue to assemble the 787-8 and 787-9 at both its Everett, Wash., and North Charleston plants, the company said.
Design is underway in Everett. Final assembly of the first 787-10 is planned to begin in South Carolina in 2017.
“We looked at all our options and found the most efficient and effective solution is to build the 787-10 at Boeing South Carolina,” Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s 787 program, said in a statement. “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.”
The 787 production system includes three production lines, two in Everett, which includes a temporary surge line, and one in South Carolina.
Boeing is expanding production rates at both facilities.
The system currently operates at a production rate of 10 787s a month.
Production will increase to 12 a month in 2016 and 14 a month by the end of the decade.
The Everett facility will continue to assemble seven airplanes a month. Boeing’s South Carolina facility will gradually increase from three a month to five a month in 2016, and to seven a month by the end of the decade.
Sections of the 787 are flown to the South Carolina site from Italy and Japan by a specially modified 747 called the Dreamlifter. They’re then assembled into mid-body sections for the 787-8 and the 787-9. Mid-body sections going to Everett are then flown by the Dreamlifter.
The midbody section for the 787-10, however, will be 10 feet longer than the 9 version, said Boeing spokesman Doug Alder.
With the extended length, those sections won’t fit inside the Dreamlifter and won’t be able to be shipped by air.
The only other option would be to send them by truck or rail.
“And it wasn’t feasible,” Alder said.
That drove the decision to assemble the 787-10s solely in South Carolina, he said.
“It really is a matter of time and efficiency,” Alder said.
Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds the 787’s nose section and installs the systems that are needed to fly.