Boeing Co.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner Boeing Co 5f76c1c2d7136

Boeing Shifting All 787 Production to South Carolina by Mid-2021

Oct. 2, 2020
The company’s Puget Sound operations will continue building 737, 747, 767, and 777 airplanes.

On October 1, Boeing Co. confirmed it would begin to consolidate all production of 787 jets in its North Charleston, South Carolina facility, starting in the middle of next year.

According to the company, the move to manufacture all of the company’s 787s in the same factory is meant to preserve liquidity, enhance efficiency, and improve long-term performance of the program. American Machinist, in an article on Boeing’s plans, also noted that labor costs are lower in South Carolina.

In a statement, chief of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division Stan Deal credited Boeing’s Everett, Washington employees for helping “give birth” to the 787, “an airplane that changed how airlines and passengers want to fly.” But the pandemic, Deal said, demands measures to make the 787 program more resilient: “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,” he said.

Deal went on to confirm that the Chicago-based aviation company’s Puget Sound-area employees would continue building 737, 747, 767 and 777 planes—one of which, the 747, is due to cease production entirely by 2023.

Boeing said it had first examined the possibility of producing its popular 787 jet in a single location back in July when it announced the end of the 747 program and stark second-quarter earnings. The same earnings included plans to cut monthly 787 production from 10 units to six. The Wall Street Journal confirmed Boeing’s intention to follow through on consolidation earlier this week, but Boeing’s October 1 announcement adds information about the expected timeline.

In a statement October 1, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said his state was still “the best place in the world to build airplanes” and called Boeing’s plans an “insult” to those who build their planes.

“I understand the serious market forces Boeing faces today. What I don’t understand is why the company can’t commit to restoring production here when the market for this plane improves,” said Inslee. He pointed out that Boeing still employs about 70,000 people in Washington and that the state is “committed to maintaining support for these companies and workers.”

But, Inslee said, “Boeing’s decision to take the 787 to South Carolina necessitates a review of our partnership and the company’s favorable tax treatment.”

Boeing says the 787 family of planes—there are three 787 variants, one of which, the 787-10, is already only assembled in North Charleston—has performed better than other widebody airplanes during the coronavirus depression. The coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns have caused demand for air travel to plummet worldwide, causing airliner companies to cancel planned airplane purchases key to Boeing’s financial success.

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

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