Boeing has today confirmed that it will indeed consolidate production in South Carolina. The move, scheduled to take place in 2021, will see all Dreamliner production shifted to a single site in North Charleston. The Everett, Washington site will continue to produce the 787 until the move takes place.
Today, Boeing confirmed the rumors that it was planning to move all Dreamliner production to its South Carolina facility. The Charleston site is currently one of two plants that makes and assembles the 787, alongside its sister facility in Everett, Washington.
In a statement today, Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, commented,
“The Boeing 787 is the tremendous success it is today thanks to our great teammates in Everett. They helped give birth to an airplane that changed how airlines and passengers want to fly. As our customers manage through the unprecedented global pandemic, to ensure the long-term success of the 787 program, we are consolidating 787 production in South Carolina.
“Our team in Puget Sound will continue to focus on efficiently building our 737, 747, 767 and 777 airplane families, and both sites will drive Boeing initiatives to further enhance safety, quality, and operational excellence.”
The consolidation of the production is a result of the impact of COVID-19, the company says. It states that the decision was taken as part of a strategic initiative aimed at preserving cash at the business. It says that the Everett site will continue building the airplane until the program transitions to the rate of just six aircraft a month in 2021.
What does this mean for Everett?
While both Everett and Charleston produce the Dreamliner, Everett was the first. The facility there began producing the 787 in 2007, building both the 787-8 and the 787-9 at the site. North Charleston was brought online in 2010 as a second final assembly line. However, despite Charleston being late to the party, it is the only site that can produce the 787-10.
Boeing has been undertaking an in-depth study of the feasibility of consolidating production at a single site, something which it began back in July this year. The analysis confirmed that there would be efficiency gains to be made through consolidation, gains which Boeing can ill-afford to ignore in the present state of the industry.
However, it’s a tough situation for the long-time employees at Everett. The plant will be reduced to producing the 777, the very low output 767 and the soon to end 747 in Washington. Deal further commented,
“We recognize that production decisions can impact our teammates, industry and our community partners. We extensively evaluated every aspect of the program and engaged with our stakeholders on how we can best partner moving forward. These efforts will further refine 787 production and enhance the airplane’s value proposition.”
The bright spot in the decision is that Everett can instead focus on production of the 737 MAX, the narrowbody flagship that is hoped to be returned to service before the end of the year. With output of the MAX pegged to accelerate to 31 units a month by 2022, technicians will still be very much in demand up in Washington.
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