Boeing opens new interiors plant, places 737 MAX facility in Washington

The 300,000-sq-ft Boeing Interiors Responsibility Center South Carolina in North Charleston will manufacture 787 interior parts; the 737 MAX — the re-engined 737 — will be built in Renton, Wash., USA.

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The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill., USA) on Dec. 1 celebrated the opening of its new Interiors Fabrication facility in North Charleston, S.C., USA. The Interiors Responsibility Center South Carolina team will manufacture 787 interior parts including stowbins, closets, partitions, class dividers, floor-mounted stowbins used by flight attendants, overhead rests for flight-crews and flight attendants, video control stations and attendant modules for Boeing South Carolina. Many of these structures and components are made with composites.

The 300,000-ft2/27,871m2 facility includes state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, and employees will use Lean processes and tools to produce interior components to match 787 production rates at Boeing South Carolina.

 "As part of today's celebration we acknowledge and thank you all for welcoming us into the community, and showing us your support as we bring our facility on line," said Lane Ballard, Boeing Interiors Responsibility Center South Carolina director. "We look forward to delivering our first set of interior components to Boeing South Carolina in 2012."

Boeing's Site Services Group, BRPH and Pattillo Construction were recognized at the ceremony for completing the facility on schedule. Pattillo's crew worked more than 500,000 labor-hours without a lost-time accident.

In other Boeing news, the company announced on Nov. 30 that it intends to build the new 737 MAX in Renton, Wash., USA, pending approval of an early contract extension with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), the union representing hourly employees in Washington, Oregon and Kansas.

As part of an effort to improve their relationship, Boeing and the IAM have been discussing the potential for an early contract extension for several weeks. The current contract is set to expire in September 2012.

Independent of that effort, Boeing has been conducting a review of potential sites for 737 MAX production since the company announced in August that it will build a new-engine variant of the 737. Boeing has assessed the business case for locating production of the 737 MAX in Renton in light of the economics of a proposed new labor agreement, and the company is prepared to locate 737 MAX production in Renton provided the economics contained in that proposal are achieved.
Upon ratification of such an agreement by hourly employees, Boeing says it will make the necessary investment to produce Next-Generation 737s and 737 MAXs in its existing Renton facility.

To date, Boeing has received more than 700 commitments from customers for the 737 MAX. The new airplane is expected to enter service in 2017.