Construction is scheduled to begin later this month for Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ new plant in Zhoushan, China, a coastal city about 100 miles south of Shanghai. The plant, developed jointly with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., will complete Boeing 737 jets assembled at Renton, Wash., installing interior fixtures and painting on the “liveries” of the carriers that will operate the aircraft.
The jet builder has not confirmed the construction schedule. According to Chinese reports, the plant is designed to deliver 100 aircraft per year, starting in 2018. It will employ 2,000 workers, according to those sources.
Boeing has not indicated its capital investment in the project, but it is considered necessary to maintaining its share of the Chinese airline market, where rival Airbus is already an important supplier with local manufacturing.
Boeing announced the plant in 2015, emphasizing then that the project would not reduce the domestic production rate or the employment total for its 737 program in Washington State.
"Boeing is expanding our longstanding relationship with Chinese industry to meet vital goals for our company: We are bringing the Boeing 737 closer to our Chinese customers, supporting rising 737 production rates and enhancing our access to China's dynamic and fast-growing aviation market," BCA president and CEO Ray Conner stated in 2015.
"The 737 will be a cornerstone of the Chinese fleet for years to come, and we look forward to delivering 737s to Chinese customers in China," he added.
The twin-engine, narrow-body 737 is Boeing’s most successful aircraft program, with over 4,400 unfilled orders through 2016. The OEM is due to increase the 737 production rate from 42 to 47 aircraft per month this year, and again to 52 per month in 2018, to meet the demand.