Boeing South Carolina 787 Final Assembly

Production of New Boeing Dreamliner in NC Could Start Early Next Year

Boeing South Carolina 787 Final Assembly

Engineering and design work on Boeing’s 787-10 — the longest member of the Dreamliner fleet — is months ahead of schedule, and the company’s North Charleston campus could start work on that line’s first jet as early as next year.

The accelerated schedule is due to the high percentage of common parts that will be shared by the 787-10 and its predecessor, the 787-9, said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina.

The North Charleston site will be the sole production facility for the 787-10.

“As a straightforward stretch of the 787-9, which entered service in 2014, we are leveraging the advanced design and disciplined development system of the 787-9 to create the 787-10 with high commonality and unprecedented efficiency,” Wyse told The Post and Courier on Tuesday.

Wyse said “detailed design is ahead of schedule” and Boeing is on track to deliver its first 787-10 — identified as Line No. 528 at the North Charleston plant — in 2018.

For the 787-10, Boeing has “really been focused on commonality, which helps not only the production system as we’re going through and building the aircraft but it helps the suppliers in terms of their investment,” Wyse said. “And over the long term, it helps the airline customers in maintaining and understanding that aircraft.”

Wyse declined to say what percentage of common parts are being used on both aircraft, but Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Airplane Development, put the total at 95 percent in a recent Aviation Week report.

That means “95 percent of the work a mechanic does will be nearly identical on both models,” Fancher told the magazine.

Aspire Aviation, a global airline analysis group, reported this month that the commonalities have helped Boeing move up delivery of its first 787-10 by three months to the first quarter of 2018.

“Starting now, we are working on the pre-production validation aspects, where we build our prototypes and take them through qualification,” Wyse said of the 787-10 production. “Then we’ll move on to the flight testing period in 2017 and we’ll begin deliveries in 2018.”

The 787-10 is a stretched and more fuel-efficient version of the 787-9, with a midbody that is 18 feet longer to accommodate 323 passengers compared to the 787-9’s 280-passenger limit. The 787-10 will be able to fly 7,020 nautical miles compared to the 787-9’s range of 8,300 nautical miles. Both airplanes will have the same maximum takeoff weight of 557,000 pounds.

Keeping the same takeoff weight “gave us the opportunity to test what this could do for a production system on a wide-body,” Fancher told Aviation Week.

Wyse said being ahead of schedule this early in the process gives Boeing flexibility in its qualification-testing phase and gives suppliers “a longer period of time to understand the details of the design, so they’ll be able to use that time more productively to reduce any downstream risks in the program.”

Commonality between the two Dreamliner models also has helped in the ongoing production of the 787-9, Wyse said.

“When it comes to better production techniques, we’ve made those changes to both the Dash-9 and Dash-10, so it will help us with efficiency,” she said.

The North Charleston campus has boosted its efficiency in recent months, with the production gap narrowing between that facility and Boeing’s sister 787 plant in Everett, Wash. The plant off International Boulevard has been producing at a rate of more than three Dreamliners per month, with production scheduled to increase to roughly four per month beginning this month and then roughly five per month by the end of 2015.

Boeing initially said the North Charleston site would not reach the five-per-month goal until sometime in 2016.

The increased efficiency bodes well for Boeing’s plans to roll 787-10 production into the North Charleston line, said Uresh Sheth, a New York investment banker and Dreamliner analyst.

“Thus far the Dash-10, like the Dash-9, has had a trouble-free birth and will probably be one of the stars of Boeing’s wide-body lineup,” Sheth said on his “All Things 787” website.

Through May, Boeing has had 140 orders for the 787-10 — about 13 percent of the Dreamliner family’s total of 1,105 orders. The 787-9 is the most popular model with 509 orders, followed by the 787-8 with 456 orders.

By the end of this decade, North Charleston will be producing a combined seven Dreamliners — a combination of all models — each month. That will match production of seven 787-8 and 787-9 models in Everett by that time.

Source…. Newest Boeing Dreamliner ahead of schedule, production in North Charleston could start early

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