September 17, 2012
Boeing South Carolina has begun site preparation for an expansion of its 787 fuselage assembly facilities in North Charleston as part of its buildup to a 10-aircraft-per-month build rate in late 2013 while also introducing the 787-9 stretched model into the lineup. This follows the opening of a surge line in Everett, Wash., which gives Boeing three final assembly lines for the long-range, twin-aisle transport (AW&ST Sept. 3/10, p. 98). The first -9s will be assembled in Everett but eventually North Charleston will produce them, too.
The North Charleston expansion involves adding 276,000 sq. ft. to the 88-19 building, a former Vought Aircraft Industries facility that fabricates the Section 47 and 48 aft fuselage assemblies. Construction is by KBR Building Group, the original contractor, and should be done about the third quarter in 2014. Land for the facility, which is adjacent to Charleston International Airport, is already cleared. (Boeing's facility is surrounded by wetlands; a company official jokes about the occasional alligator appearing in a nearby pond.)
In addition, 37,000 sq. ft. are being added to the 88-22 paint hangar, bringing it to a total of 102,772 sq. ft. The hangar applies primer to center and aft fuselage sections. Boeing contracts with Leading Edge Aviation Services to paint the completed aircraft.