Boeing is looking to buy rights to additional land for further expansion of its manufacturing operations in North Charleston, S.C., as it ramps up activity across North America to cope with the ongoing surge in civil airliner work.
“There’s a lot of expansion because we have a lot to build,” says Boeing Commercial Airplanes President James Albaugh. ”We’re going to grow here in Puget Sound. We’re going to grow in Charleston. We’re going to grow in Salt Lake, in Winnipeg,” says Albaugh. “Production is 40% up over the next several years, so we need to expand.”
Albaugh, who was commenting as Japan Airlines took delivery of its first two 787s, denies reports that Boeing is planning an additional production line in North Charleston. The 240-acre site, which is due to see the official roll-out of the first completed aircraft for Air India at the end of April, is not currently set for additional growth, explains Albaugh.
“We have no plan to do that,” he says. “But you know, you need to anticipate anything that might come along,” adds Albaugh, “I don’t think you need to read too much into that, other than that we have rights to some land out there.” The site is in the process of ramping up to produce three 787s per month as part of Boeing’s overall goal of 10 per month by late 2013.
The reports emerged last week during an event at Charleston International Airport at which plans were presented for a new cargo terminal. At the meeting, Chip Limehouse, chairman of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, reportedly commented that Boeing had requested rights to purchase a large tract of undeveloped land close to its existing site.
Despite the slower-than-expected rate of 787 deliveries so far in late 2011 and early this year, Albaugh remains confident that overall deliveries will pick up. “I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe we won’t deliver what we said we would.” The 787 production rate officially hit the 3.5-per-month rate on March 1. “With each rate break every time we do it I feel better,” he adds. Boeing delivered three 787s in 2011, and two aircraft were handed over to JAL in March. Albaugh’s comments come despite acknowledgments from launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) that its planned 787 deliveries continue to lag behind schedule.
Photo: Guy Norris
Mar 29, 2012
By Guy Norris