Boeing is poised to take control of a key portion of its 787 supply chain through the acquisition of the Vought Aircraft Industries business in Charleston, South Carolina.
The move is also seen as further evidence of the airframer's intent to establish a 787 production line outside Washington state.
According to multiple sources familiar with the plan, Vought's 787 North Charleston arm is to be divested from parent The Carlyle Group and sold to Boeing. "It's a done deal," says a source close to the talks.
Sources indicate that the sale of the Charleston 787 operations unit, known as the Advanced Aerosolutions (AAD) branch of Dallas-based Vought, is likely to be the first key step to establishing a second production site for the Dreamliner.
Vought, which is responsible for the fabrication and integration of the 787's two aft fuselage assemblies (sections 47 and 48), declines to comment about any acquisition, as does Boeing. However, sources told Flight International that a formal announcement is imminent.
Boeing has steadily increased its presence at Charleston in an effort to regain oversight and control of its supply chain, where 60% of the 787 is prepared for delivery to the Everett final assembly line.
In March 2008, it purchased Vought's 50% share of the Global Aeronautica joint venture with Alenia Aeronautica, which integrates 787 sections along side the Vought's facility on the 97Ha (240 acre) site.
At last month's Paris air show, Pat Shanahan, Boeing's vice-president of airplane programmes, discussed the role Boeing has played in assisting Vought over the last several years. He said that the airframer has been supervising design changes in Charleston as well as assisting with the supply chain "for a better part of the start up of the programme [since 2006]".
He added that "more recently we've had a higher influx of people into Charleston because if you compare the capability and capacity, the limitation is there" rather than at other 787 partners such as Spirit AeroSystems or the Japanese suppliers.