Boeing and Comac started construction today on a new completion and delivery centre for the 737 in China.
The joint venture partners hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the reportedly 40-hectare plant scheduled to open in 2018 in Zhoushan, an island port city in an archipelago off the Chinese coast south of Shanghai.
The facility at the Zhujiajian aviation industry park will install seats and flight entertainment systems on 737s assembled by Boeing in Renton, Washington, then paint and deliver the aircraft to Chinese customers.
Starting construction is “a significant milestone that further strengthens the mutually beneficial relationship between Boeing and China’s aviation industry, supporting economic growth in the US and China”, Boeing says in a statement to FlightGlobal.
Boeing vice-chairman Ray Conner, who plans to retire at the end of 2017, attended the ground-breaking ceremony along with Comac and Chinese officials.
Boeing announced plans in September 2015 to build a 737 completion and delivery centre with Comac in China, a country that Boeing forecasts will acquire 6,810 new commercial aircraft by 2036.
Chinese suppliers already provide Boeing with horizontal stabilisers, doors, wing panels and wire harnesses for the 737NG. China also will supply the rudder for the 737 Max, the re-engined aircraft that enters service later this month.
Last October, the joint venture partners announced the facility will be built at the Zhujiajian aviation industry park, which is reportedly under-going a $108 million upgrade to accommodate the 737 plant.
Plans for the Chinese factory moved forward despite a call by US president Donald Trump for US-based manufacturers to keep work inside the country. Boeing argues the site promotes US manufacturing jobs by increasing Chinese demand for the 737. Boeing continues to assemble the fuselages in Kansas and the wings in Washington and then mates them together in Renton, Washington, along with engines assembled by CFM International joint venture partner GE Aviation.