787 surge line comes on stream

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Boeing has activated a temporary surge line for 787 production at its Everett facilities, as the airframer seeks to reach a production rate of five aircraft a month from all three assembly lines by end-2012.

The surge line, along with the existing line at Everett and a second line in Charleston, South Carolina, will help the programme grow its current production rate of 3.5 aircraft a month to 10 by end-2013.

It will also facilitate the introduction of the 787-9 into the production system, says the airframer's vice president for marketing Randy Tinseth.

Pointing out that the surge line "isn't a mirror image of the original 787 production line", Tinseth says: "Instead of moving down the line in a nose-to-door configuration, airplanes will be staged in a slanted arrangement at Position 3.

"After completing interior installations, the airplane will move to Position 4 over on the original line. That's because work in Position 4 can occur at a faster rate so we can accommodate airplanes from both the original line and the temporary surge line."

Although it had been constructed for some time, the surge line was being used by Boeing for post-assembly modifications in recent months. The airframer had earlier indicated it would activate it to support production in the fourth quarter.

"The surge line gives us a temporary way to increase production as the permanent production lines are increasing their rates," says a Boeing spokesman. "You can increase output by either working existing lines faster or adding more lines. We're doing both and eventually the permanent lines will producing at a rate that will mean we can phase out the temporary line."

Boeing declines to specify when it plans to phase out the temporary line.

The airframer will deliver Chilean airline group LAN's first 787-8 on 31 August, making the carrier the fourth operator of the aircraft after All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.

LAN's first 787 (CC-BBA) completed final assembly in July. It will be configured in two classes, with 217 seats in economy and 30 in business. LAN has an order for 32 787s, comprising 22 787-8s and 10 787-9s. All 32 aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.