It’s official: Boeing to consolidate 787 production in Charleston in 2021

Oct. 1, 2020, (c) Leeham News: It’s official: Boeing confirmed this morning what has been expected since late July: 787 production will be consolidated in Charleston at its 787 final assembly line.

Consolidation will be from mid-2021, earlier than the previously announced 2022 date. Production next year will decline to 6/mo.

Boeing issued the following press release this morning:

News Release Issued: Oct 1, 2020 (11:20am EDT)

Boeing to Consolidate 787 Production in South Carolina in 2021

– Single site to improve operational efficiency as company adapts to market downturn and positions for recovery and long-term growth.

– 787 production to continue in Everett, Wash. until program begins building at the previously announced rate of six airplanes a month in 2021.

SEATTLE, Oct. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As the airline industry continues to address the impact of COVID-19, The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] said today it will consolidate production of 787 jets at its facility in North Charleston, S.C., starting in mid-2021, according to the company’s best estimate. The decision comes as the company is strategically taking action to preserve liquidity and reposition certain lines of business in the current global environment to enhance efficiency and improve performance for the long-term.

While Boeing’s versatile 787 family has outperformed other widebody airplanes during the challenging market downturn, its production system has been adjusted to accommodate the current difficult market environment while positioning the 787 family to ramp up production as air travel increases.

“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,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“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 company began assembling 787-8 and 787-9 airplanes at its Everett site in 2007, and brought the North Charleston facility on line as a second final assembly line in 2010. However, only the North Charleston site is set up to build the larger 787-10 model. Production of the smaller 787 models will continue in Everett until the program transitions to the previously-announced production rate of six airplanes a month in 2021.

In July, Boeing announced an in-depth study into the feasibility of producing 787s at a single location. The review examined the impacts and benefits to Boeing customers, suppliers, employees and the overall health of the production system. The 787 study is part of an enterprise review underway to reassess all aspects of Boeing’s facility footprint, organizational structure, portfolio and investment mix, and supply chain health and stability.

This analysis confirmed the feasibility and efficiency gains created by consolidation, which enables the company to accelerate improvements and target investments to better support customers.

“We recognize that production decisions can impact our teammates, industry and our community partners,” said Deal. “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.”

Boeing said it is assessing potential impacts to employment in Everett and North Charleston and will communicate any changes directly to its employees.

15 Comments on “It’s official: Boeing to consolidate 787 production in Charleston in 2021

  1. ““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 B747 line is finished. The B767 and B777 line’s are down to only a few per month.

    The B737 will do fine.

    The State of Washington better do something in terms of incentives, training, etc. to keep Washington competitive or I see Boeing eventually leaving Washington completely.

    That being said, I’m not a fan of Boeing management at all.

    • 737 will never “Do fine”. It wasn’t before the crashes. It wasn’t before covid. It isn’t now, nor will it ever.

      It a program that will be in loss territory going forward, it’s just a matter of how massive a loss it will be.

      The entire order backlog was sold at pieces predicated on production rates and efficiencies that the MAX will now never see. Ever.

      Layoffs mean moving people, retraining them, (with all the possible peer mentors either lured out, aged out, or forced out). Don’t be naive: Boeing does very little to train it employees on anything other that tasks requiring certification. Actual aircraft assembly work is taught be the person who did the job before you, for long enough to have achieved some competence, and that competence is eroding….. FAST.

      Further, the production of the MAX has significant quality and safety issues that are still not well known, because, you know, it’s Boeing. And Boeing’s overseer, the FAA, it a GARBAGE agency. That it NOW attempts to save face after passing Boeing on production audits for DECADES with flying colors, impresses me not one bit.

      So no, 737 is NOT “fine”. Neither is Boeing, nor the FAA, and you aren’t going to convince ME, someone who spent 30 years there, half if it on 737, taking body blow after body blow trying to make it at least a little better, to the contrary. I failed utterly and completely using every avenue the company provided.

      737 production is a dog’s breakfast, and everyone inside KNOWS IT.

      • That seems to sum it up well.
        And now that we know that the 737 MAX program will never make money, and already knew that the 787 program will never break even, how will BCA keep afloat? The 777X is probably the wrong plane at the wrong time, and is currently living on borrowed time. Perhaps some form of revived NMA?

        • New models based on the latest possible technology are Boeing commercial’s only hope for long term viability. The deep dive, the big leap, but based on local and United States based engineering and manufacturing talent, and experience, that can be controlled, de-risking the design and manufacturing process from Boeing’s clumsy globalization efforts. Boeing MUST have the GE philosophy of business expunged from it’s thinking.

  2. No surprise – done deal from the get go.

    737 is made in Renton and you can be sure that if Boeing ever manages to build a new single aisle aircraft, it won’t be in Washington State.

  3. I wonder if the analysis considered shipping 787-10 fuselages in 2 pieces, which could be joined in final assembly in Everett.

    It would be interesting to read the analysis, in any event.

    • Of course not, Boeing is headed out of Washington State.

      Its been going on since Charleston was opened.

      If the 777X is a bust they can move 767 to (Oklahoman ? Texas?)

      Just ask Wichita. The dumped their ops and buildings there to move to Oklahoma.

      Kind of like Dust Bowl refugees, just keep drifting.

  4. I have just read on Rouiters that Boeing are in talks with Delta to take the 737 max white tails.

    • Probably with Boeing arranged ‘over financing’ deals , which means Delta gets new planes and takes the ‘cash on the wing’ and the US Fed creates the bonds at ultra low interest rates. What could go wrong ?

    • Boeing is offering those 40 white tails to anyone and everyone. Delta won’t take them – they have what they need in the pipeline and Ed Bastian said there is no money for new aircraft, for the foreseeable future.
      BA has $16 billion in inventory sitting in the employee car park, with 10% produced with no buyer. The other 90%? Who needs new aircraft now?

  5. Hahaha, I love a good comedy. And this PR is so hilarious, no comedian could have come up with.

    “Our team in Puget Sound will continue to focus on efficiently building our 737, 747, 767 and 777 airplane families”

    B737 Max – grounded.
    B747 – production line closed, rate: 0,5 jets per month. Bye bye.
    B767 – tanker issues so bad they have to write off every other year. How long will the production be open?
    B777 – rate already low, the new VLA version having the worst timing ever. It’s late already and nobody cares, because no airlines do need that 400 pax B779 for the foreseeable future.

    ““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”

    That success almost ruined the company with it’s deferred cost and development cost.
    It also got grounded and it was to the gods all these batteries started burning on the ground.
    Airlines like it cause it’s sold cheap – but have you ever heard of a PAX saying:
    Yes going long haul with a B787? Because it’s cramped and that’s why it’s efficient.

    “to ensure the long-term success of the 787 program, we are consolidating 787 production in South Carolina”

    Oh yeah, consolidate on the plant with no union, untrained workers and huge production quality issues.
    For sure, that’s the road to sucess.

    It reminds me a lot on the Times magazin cover of WW2 filed marshall von Mannstein. “The retreat may be masterly, but victory is the opposite direction”.

    At least, a good laugh, one more question: What will US legal system do about Boeings B737 Max behavior? Will they make them pay like BP for Deepwater Horizon or will they imprison managers as they did with VWs dieselgate?

    • Isn’t it frightening that there are evidently managers who think that that type of hot air makes any sort of impression at all (other than a negative impression)?

      On the other hand: as long as there is a perception that the ship is still floating — even if it isn’t actually going anywhere — they’ll continue to get their salaries, bonuses and stock packages. So there’s an incentive to issue this type of meaningless rubbish on a regular basis.

    • Or Al Baker, from Qatar. He won’t be impressed. He bitched a few weeks ago that he was having trouble deferring his Boeing orders (he had already agreed deferrals with Airbus)…and now he’ll effectively be forced to take planes from a factory from which he has publicly distanced himself.

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