Boeing will consolidate all 787 production at its plant in South Carolina starting in mid-2021, the company confirmed Thursday. The decision comes following months of deliberation over possible consolidation of its two sites—in North Charleston and Everett, Washington—as production falls from the current 10 per month to a total of six per month next year. At one time building 14 Dreamliners per month, Boeing had seen demand for widebodies fall even before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, and in January announced a rate reduction from 12 to 10 per month. In April, it then changed the rate plan to seven per month by 2022 and then in July, when CEO David Calhoun first acknowledged the consolidation studies, to six by 2021.
"The Boeing 787 is the tremendous success it is today thanks to our great teammates in Everett,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal. “They helped give birth to an airplane that changed how airlines and passengers want to fly. As our customers manage through the unprecedented global pandemic, to ensure the long-term success of the 787 program, we are consolidating 787 production in South Carolina.
“Our team in Puget Sound will continue to focus on efficiently building our 737, 747, 767, and 777 airplane families, and both sites will drive Boeing initiatives to further enhance safety, quality, and operational excellence,” added Deal.
The company began assembling 787-8 and 787-9 airplanes at its Everett site in 2007 and began operations at the North Charleston facility as a second final assembly line in 2010. However, Boeing builds the 787-10 only in North Charleston—a non-union site. On Thursday the company said production of the smaller 787 models will continue in Everett until the program moves to the previously announced production rate of six airplanes a month in 2021.
In a statement, Boeing added that the consolidation review examined the effects and benefits to Boeing customers, suppliers, employees and the overall health of the production system. The 787 study stands as part of an enterprise review underway to reassess all aspects of Boeing's facility footprint, organizational structure, portfolio and investment mix, and supply chain health and stability, it noted.
“We recognize that production decisions can impact our teammates, industry, and our community partners,” said Deal. “We extensively evaluated every aspect of the program and engaged with our stakeholders on how we can best partner moving forward. These efforts will further refine 787 production and enhance the airplane's value proposition.”
Boeing said it continues to assess effects on employment in Everett and Charleston and will communicate any changes directly to its employees.