December 06, 2013
Details of Boeing’s requirements for a site suitable for assembly of the 777X and its large composite wing show the company is searching for new facilities costing up to $10 billion, access to transportation infrastructure and a 9,000-ft. runway.
The requirements were issued by Boeing in a request for proposals (RFP) to 15 U.S. states in late November and form part of the manufacturer’s selection process which will be completed early in the first quarter of 2014. Although Boeing is not commenting on the contest, the states on the list are known to include Washington, where the majority of Boeing Commercial Airplane’s manufacturing sites are located. This includes a facility in Everett, home to the current 777 program.
Boeing began the search for alternate sites away from Everett after the Nov. 13 decision by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) to reject a long-term contract extension. Many of the other bidding states are home to existing Boeing facilities including Alabama, California, Kansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Responses are due back to Boeing by mid-December.
According to details of the RFP obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the requirements specify either a single $7-10 billion, 4.2 million-sq.-ft. site that will house both final assembly and wing construction under one roof, or two sites— one to house the final assembly line and the other the 114-ft.-long composite wing.
Divided up, the requirement calls for a primary 3.1 million-sq.-ft. facility costing between $4 billion and $6 billion for fuselage and final assembly, and a secondary 1.1 million-sq.-ft. site for the wing costing between $2 billion and $4 billion.
The RFP notes that work would begin on building the facilities in November 2014, with the aim of starting the production process in July 2016. This timeline dovetails with Boeing’s stated schedule for the new twinjet family, which calls for detailed design in 2016 and final assembly beginning in 2017. First flight of the 777-9X is expected in 2018 with flight tests running through 2019.
The first delivery of the 777-9X is targeted for 2020, with initial deliveries of the -8X following around 18 months later in early 2022. The larger site combining final assembly line and wing would start with 3,250 employees in 2018 and grow to 8,500 by 2024. The documents say a wing-only plant would have 1,075 workers to start and peak at 2,760.
As well as detailing requirements for access to existing road, rail and airport infrastructure, the RFP also specifies a preference for access to port facilities.