Boeing will manufacture, assemble 787 interior parts in South Carolina

Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina will make stow bins, closets, partitions, class dividers, crew rests and attendant modules; Boeing also has reportedly suspended fuselage manufacture to work out production kinks.

The Boeing Co. (North Charleston, S.C., USA) announced on May 3 that it has chosen South Carolina as the location for fabrication and assembly of airplane interior parts to supply the 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery site currently under construction in North Charleston, S.C. The company is reviewing potential sites for the new airplane interiors facility and anticipates making a final decision by midsummer.

The new facility, Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina, will be located near the North Charleston final assembly and delivery site. The Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina team will manufacture 787 interior parts, including stow bins, closets, partitions, class dividers, floor-mounted stow bins used by flight attendants, overhead flight-crew rests, overhead flight attendant crew rests, video-control stations and attendant modules.

As many as 150 employees will work at the new interiors facility, which will serve as an extension of the existing Interiors Responsibility Center in Everett, Wash., leveraging the opportunities of a single, integrated production system. This decision is part of Boeing's plan announced in 2009 to provide an independent sourcing stream for 787 final assembly and delivery in South Carolina. The close proximity of this new facility to Boeing's Charleston site will help improve the efficiency of the final assembly and delivery process in South Carolina.

"By expanding Boeing's footprint in South Carolina, we enhance our existing foundation with Boeing Charleston and further contribute to the growth of aerospace in the region," said Ray Conner, vice president and general manager, Supply Chain Management and Operations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Ultimately, the decision we made in 2009 builds on our overall strategy to successfully meet our 787 customer commitments and to optimize our production capability."

"Recognizing the superior quality of the products and services provided by our Interiors Responsibility Center in Everett, Boeing believes this extension is an important step in ensuring that we maintain a high level of consistency and quality in our production system," said Conner. "In the long term, we are strengthening our position in the aerospace market and ensuring that we remain competitive as a company."

Located within the Boeing Everett complex, the Interiors Responsibility Center is a focused area of excellence for the design, manufacture, assembly and integration of a wide range of interior systems for production, aftermarket and spares for Boeing commercial jets. About 1,380 people work at the IRC producing products that include crew rests, doors and doorway linings, overhead stow bins and floor-mounted stow boxes, life raft boxes, closets and partitions, secure flight deck doors, video control centers, purser work stations, dry galleys, ceilings, sidewalls, decorative laminates and proximity lighting. Engineering integration services provide customer interior solutions from concept product design through project management and certification.

In other Boeing news, The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations reported on April 27 that parts shortages and engineering difficulties at some suppliers of structures for The Boeing Co.'s (Seattle, Wash., USA) 787 Dreamliner have forced the airplane manufacturer to delay shipment of some fuselage parts to its final assembly facility in Everett, Wash.

According to the report, Boeing asked its suppliers to hold off on shipping fuselage sections for airplanes No. 23 and 24 for 24 days in order to resolve the problems along the supply chain. Boeing did not name the suppliers having the problems or detail the parts involved.

The composites-intensive 787 features fuselage structures manufactured by Alenia in Italy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, Spirit AeroSystems in Kansas and a Boeing facility in South Carolina that until recently was owned and operated by Vought Aircraft. All fuselage structures, once completed, are flown to Boeing’s Everett facility for final aircraft assembly.

Boeing currently produces two Dreamliners a month; the company is trying to increase that rate to 10 a month by 2013. Boeing told The Wall Street Journal that the delay will not affect work on the four 787s now on the final assembly line.