Boeing selects Charleston for second 787 final assembly line

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Boeing has selected North Charleston, South Carolina as the site of its second 787 final assembly line.

"Establishing a second 787 assembly line in Charleston will expand our production capability to meet the market demand for the airplane," says Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The North Charleston site is currently responsible for the fabrication and integration of the 787's aft fuselage at Boeing Charleston, as well as the integration of the centre fuselage as part of Global Aeronautica, a joint venture with Alenia Aeronautica.

"This decision allows us to continue building on the synergies we have established in South Carolina with Boeing Charleston and Global Aeronautica," added Albaugh.

The primary Everett, Washington line became operational with the commencement of final assembly operations for ZA001, Boeing's first 787, in May 2007.

Since that time, Boeing has struggled with design issues and supply chain management problems as it works to complete the 787's maiden sortie by the close of 2009 after more than two years of delays.

Boeing says that until the second 787 line is brought on line, the company will establish "transitional surge capability" on the existing Everett line to "ensure the successful introduction of the 787-9" which has a planned service entry at the end of 2013 with Air New Zealand.

"We're taking prudent steps to protect the interests of our customers as we introduce the 787-9 and ramp up overall production to 10 twin-aisle 787 jets per month," said Albaugh.

The news came less than a day after reports that negotiations between Boeing and its biggest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, had collapsed, making the selection of Charleston virtually inevitable.

Boeing had sought a no-strike agreement from the IAM, but the parties were not able to reach a compromise that would have kept the second line in Washington state.

Boeing had narrowed down its choices in recent weeks between North Charleston and Everett, Washington.

The first 787 Dreamliner will be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Boeing holds 840 orders from 55 customers for the 787.