Boeing decides to end 787
Dreamliner assembly in Everett
EVERETT — The Boeing Co.’s official announcement that it is consolidating 787 Dreamliner production to its South Carolina plant rippled through the state last week.
Boeing plans to have Everett stop building 787s in mid-2021.
The news conceivably leaves Boeing Everett’s commercial jetliner output down to its other “wide-body” jets: the 777, 767 and 747. The first 777X delivery, which would be out of Everett, is targeted for 2022; the new 777X will be assembled on the 777 assembly line, not its own. The KC-46 tanker, a military derivative of the 767, is built in Everett.
The 747 is scheduled to end production in 2022.
Nine hundred people work on the 787 in the Puget Sound region; a majority work at the Everett plant.
It’s too early to say how many will be affected, said Jessica Kowal, a spokeswoman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“We are developing a transition plan,” Kowal said. “We will work to minimize impacts … and communicate openly and transparently” with employees, she said.
In the past, the company retained employees by offering them work at other plants — this happened earlier this year when Renton employees on the halted 737 MAX were re-assigned to Everett.
As of Aug. 31, Boeing has 470 unfilled orders combined for its 767, 747 and 777 series models out of Everett. In the same timespan, it has 381 orders for the 787s that can be built in either Everett or South Carolina, plus 145 orders for the 787-10 “stretch” version that only the South Carolina plant is equipped to build, from company records posted online.
For comparison, there are more than 4,000 unfilled orders for the mainstream 737 family of planes. The Renton plant builds the “narrow-body” 737.
An unfilled order is a contracted plane scheduled for future production.
Because of jet market slowdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated air travel demand, the company is slowing production down to six 787s a month, down from 10 before and 12 before that.
The company says logistics played a factor to choosing South Carolina: Many composite components for the 787 are built in South Carolina, for one. Plus, the body fuselage for the largest model, the 787-10, is too large to be shipped by air to Everett for final assembly.
A few key composite components -- including the wings -- for the upcoming 777X are built in Everett. City leaders took that as a victory a few years ago.
The non-union South Carolina plant began production in 2012.
With the 747 ending in 2022 and the 787 out, this could leave two assembly lines open inside the Everett plant.
The company tabled its next next plane model, the New Market Airplane nicknamed by some as the “797,” back for study earlier this year because of the pandemic overturning the air travel market. Its immediate priority is the new 737 MAX.
Kowal said the company is continuing to study efficiencies company-wide.
The 787 news disappointed, politicians and officials.
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said in a statement that “the impact of losing the 787 line here in Everett will be deeply felt throughout our community,” but added “despite the challenging times we all are experiencing, I know that Boeing and the aerospace sector will come back strong.”
Machinists Union 751 president Jon Holden called it “another in a string of bad decisions Boeing has made that fails to capitalize on the strengths of our workforce” in a statement.
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