The White House has confirmed President Donald Trump will visit Boeing’s North Charleston, South Carolina facility 17 February for the rollout of its first 787-10.
“This trip has been months in the making,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer says.
The possibility of Trump’s visit began gaining steam after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a 13 February notice warning pilots to “expect VIP movement February 17, 2017 in the vicinity of Charleston, S.C.”
In December, sections of the first 787-10 were delivered to its final assembly line in North Charleston. That facility will become the 787-10’s exclusive assembly line, as the aircraft’s centre fuselage is too large to transport to Boeing’s Everett facility, FlightGlobal previously reported.
Trump would be the first sitting US president to visit Boeing’s South Carolina facility, which delivered its first 787 in 2012. Previous presidents have visited Boeing locations in Everett, Washington and St. Louis, Missouri.
But Trump’s relationship with Boeing and the US aerospace industry at large kicked off to a rocky start long before his inauguration. During a 17 February 2016 campaign stop in South Carolina, Trump lambasted Boeing for its dealings with China. He then warned that the prospect of a Boeing plant overseas would shutter the South Carolina facility.
“Boeing just had a big order from China, but China is making them build a massive airline facility, right? Massive, like bigger than anything you’ve seen,” Trump said. “You feel good about Boeing right now? Tell me in five years…”
Trump then assured his audience not to worry about that prospect if were elected president. In a later campaign rally, he repeated that manufacturing in China would close the Boeing plant.
In several tweets last year, Trump called out the cost of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme and Boeing’s Air Force One recapitalisation. In January, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg attempted to smooth over that relationship with a visit to Trump Tower in New York. Muilenburg then told reporters he and Trump discussed both the presidential aircraft recapitalisation programme and fighter jets.