FARNBOROUGH: Stray comment hints at 787-9 assembly plan in Charleston

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A Boeing customer may have given away a secret plan to assemble the 787-9 at the airframer's new factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.

While answering an unrelated question, Steven Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Air Lease Corporation (ALC), told reporters he plans to take delivery of his 787s in Charleston.

ALC has only ordered the 787-9 variant of the twin-jet series, while Boeing's final assembly centre in North Charleston has only been assigned to build the 787-8 variant - at least publicly anyway.

Asked about Udvar-Hazy's comment, Ray Conner stopped short of confirming the comment by one of his most strategic customers, but he did not deny it either.

"We're not restricted by [building only] -8s there," Conner says. "We're starting with -8s and we'll see where that goes."

Boeing has been moving work to North Charleston since the factory opened. In May, Boeing revealed that that the plant will build a pre-production verification prototype of the aft section the 787-9 in South Carolina.