Global Aeronautica completes 787 fuselage plant

Washington DC
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Global Aeronautica, a 50/50 joint venture between Alenia North America and Vought Aircraft, is set to begin producing Boeing 787 fuselage segments next month at its new 32,500sq m (350,000sq ft) assembly and integration facility on the grounds of the Charleston International airport in South Carolina.

The new facility, opened last week, will integrate most of the new aircraft’s fuselage, with the exception of the nose cone, wings and horizontal and vertical tail sections, beginning with pre-finished barrel sections made elsewhere and flown in on Boeing’s new 747 Large Cargo Freighter.

The LCF, currently completing final flight tests, will also be used to transport the completed fuselage assemblies to Boeing’s final assembly plant in Everett, Washington. Charleston International is currently building a taxiway so the LCF can taxi directly to the plant.

Initial 787 production operations will begin in the first quarter of next year, with deliveries to Boeing expected early in the second quarter. Boeing plans to fly the 787 for the first time by the end of summer, and begin deliveries of the first variant, the 787-3, in 2008.

Global Aeronautica anticipates having 100 employees working at the facility in January. This could by 250 additional employees as production ramps up to produce 10 fuselages a month by 2010, although the number is “subject to change as Boeing reexamines production rate,” according to an Alenia spokesman.

The plant features a moving assembly line using automated ground vehicles to move the various barrel sections through the plant.