LOS ANGELES –closed out deliveries and seven decades of aircraft production in Long Beach, California, with the departure of the last airlifter for the Qatar Emiri air force to the company’s San Antonio facility on Nov 29.
The final aircraft is one of four C-17s that will be delivered to Qatar in 2016, and together with one aircraft that remains unsold and in storage in Texas, takes the overall production tally to 279. Not including the prototype, structural test airframes and the five undelivered aircraft, Boeing has so far officially delivered 271 C-17s, including 223 to the U.S. Air Force and 48 to international operators.
The Qatar C-17 is one of 10 “white tails” for which Boeing committed to building without having a firm customer in 2013. Of the remaining aircraft, sales finalized this year include a single C-17 for Canada, which accepted its fifth in March, and the United Arab Emirates, which took two more aircraft for a total fleet of eight. Two additional aircraft from the final batch were also acquired by Australia, which formally accepted its eighth and last C-17 at Long Beach on Sept. 4. Other international operators include the U.K., Kuwait, India and the 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO.
While Boeing continues to provide support, maintenance and upgrades to the airlifter fleet under the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) Performance-Based Logistics program, the future of the production site at Long Beach remains undecided. Even though large sections of both the Boeingand are produced in California, the C-17 is the last series-built, fixed-wing aircraft to be completely assembled and delivered in the state. So the last delivery ends more than 70 years of full aircraft production at Long Beach and more than a century of complete fixed-wing aircraft serial manufacturing in California.