Boeing builds its 787 jets at plants in Everett, Wash., and North Charleston, S.C.

Boeing Expanding Charleston Assembly Plant

Sept. 9, 2012
Fabricating space will increase 63% Painting operation to expand 54% Third join tool for aft-fuselage assembly

Boeing Commercial Airplanes reportedly will expand its new South Carolina aircraft-manufacturing complex as it works to increase its production of the new 787 “Dreamliner” — its marquis jet for air carriers seeking to replace aging fleets.

The Dreamliner is a wide-body twin-engine aircraft with long range and carrying capacity for 210 to 330 passengers. Boeing claims it is its most fuel-efficient commercial jet, with a structure based on a large volume of composite materials that helps to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% versus similar-size jets. A more advanced aerodynamic design than previous jets, more-electric systems, and modern engines add to the 787’s appeal to airlines.

Having built a new manufacturing complex in North Charleston, S.C., Boeing now aims to complete 10 787s per month there by the end of 2013. Expanding the buildings will allow it to achieve a more efficient production flow.

One building on the site where aft fuselage bodies are fabricated will be more than doubled (63%) in size with 276,000 square feet of new space. The painting operation at the plant will have 37,000 square feet of new space, a 54% expansion.

Also, Boeing is adding a third “join tool” to the Charleston operation. The tool is a fixturing device that’s used in the process of assembling two critical carbon-fiber sub-structures for the aft fuselage of the 787. Join tools make it possible to link two carbon-fiber sections that have a critical taper and form the rear of the jet, holding them in alignment as fasteners are installed. Then, aft-fuselage structures become part of the final assembly of the 787 at Charleston.

The new join tool will be in operation by mid 2013.