Boeing Co. resumed aircraft assembly operations at its North Charleston, S.C., operation on May 4, having paused all activity there on April 8. The jet builder resumed commercial aircraft production at its Seattle area plants in mid-April, having initiated a restart there in mid-April.
Both operations had been idled to comply with local policies enforcing social distancing practices to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the South Carolina location, Boeing said it had increased its cleaning efforts in all of the buildings there, including pressure-washing restrooms, break areas, cafeterias, conference rooms, and other community spaces. Also, it installed new hand sanitizing stations and will encourage workers to wear cloth masks or other face coverings. “Some teammates will be required to wear procedural masks, which will be provided, in certain areas when working in close proximity,” Boeing explained.
The company also will offer voluntary temperature screening for workers.
Boeing opened the North Charleston complex in 2011. It assembles all three models of the 787 Dreamliner long-range commercial jets there, the 787-8, 787-9, and the 787-10.
However, the pandemic is prompting Boeing to trim the scope of its organization, as it contends with lower demand from airline customers, and disruptions to production and supply-chain stability. It will reduce employment group-wide by roughly 10% via voluntary layoffs, natural turnover, and involuntary layoffs.
Among the production-rate reductions Boeing is planning, it will reduce the 787 output from 14 to 10 aircraft per month this year (the reduction had earlier been set to start in 2021), and to seven per month in 2022.