Final parts arrive for first Charleston 787

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Boeing's North Charleston, South Carolina final assembly line has received its first locally fabricated Boeing 787 aft fuselage, completing the final shipments for the first aircraft to be built at the company's new final assembly line, the company confirmed.

In an early morning ceremony on 22 August, staff from the 88-19 building where the aft fuselage is fabricated on Boeing's North Charleston campus, walked the completed aft section 47/48 to the newly built 88-30 final assembly building.

The arrival marks the final process towards beginning final assembly of Airplane 46, a 787 for Air India, and the first non-legacy Boeing jetliner to be completed outside the company's commercial base in the Pacific Northwest.

Major structural sections for the aircraft began arriving on 24 June with the shipment of the horizontal stabiliser from Alenia Aeronautica, followed by the wings from Nagoya, Japan on 6 July. The Spirit AeroSystems-built section 41 forward fuselage was delivered to Charleston on 21 July, followed by the centre fuselage, also assembled and integrated in South Carolina, on 11 August.

Boeing also received its first vertical stabiliser, built in Frederickson, Washington. The airframer said the first of two vertical tails for the South Carolina facility will be made in the Puget Sound facility, before receiving vertical stabilisers from its new 787 fin line in Salt Lake City, Utah starting in the fourth quarter.

The slower pace of the ramp-up at the Charleston final assembly line enabled Boeing to use the Airplane 46 centre fuselage to check out newly installed tooling used for structural integration.

The new tooling is set up on the company's third integration pulse line, known as Line C, which is said to feature new automated equipment for completing the structural join.

Programme sources said the centre fuselage for Airplane 57, the second Charleston-assembled 787, is now being assembled in the first of five assembly and integration cells on Line C, joining the structural sections from Italy and Japan. The later four cells on Line C will be activated one-by-one as the company ramps up and brings Line C online to accompany the parallel A and B lines feeding Boeing's dual 787 assembly sites.

Charleston's final assembly operations will eventually ramp up to three 787s per month, and combined with Boeing's primary and surge Everett, Washington lines, the company's programme-wide goal is to reach 10 per month by the end of 2013.