Aerospace industry blogger and writer Jon Ostrower authored a Wall Street Journal article (paid subscription or free metered view) one week ago citing the significance of the first ever completion and customer shipment of a Boeing 787 jetliner from Boeing’s new North Charleston, South Carolina facility. (Note Boeing photo).
This brand new Dreamliner was decked out and on its way to customer Air India.
In his article, Ostrower cites many important “firsts”. “The first commercial jet built on the East Coast and the first assembled by a nonunion workforce. The 240-acre site here includes the first new jetliner assembly campus in the U.S. in more than four decades and Boeing’s first outside Washington State.”
The author also points out certain risks as well, a largely untested non-unionized workforce, some of which are a mix of those previously skilled in building the Space Shuttle, and some trainees with no previous aerospace experience. Readers will recall that Boeing’s attempts to open a second assembly facility were side tracked by National Labor Relations Board actions imposed by its labor unions. The NLRB dropped its objection after both sides agreed to build Boeing’s next generation 737 aircraft at the unionized facility in Renton Washington.
Another risk, shared with Boeing’s prime 787 assembly facility in Washington State is the unprecedented 40 percent ramp-up of 787 production volumes. Plans call for build rates to ramp to upwards of 10 787 Dreamliners per month by the end of 2013. Three of those aircraft must come from the Charleston complex.
In the article, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh is quoted as indicating that Charleston employees have “exceeded all our expectations.”
Supply Chain Matters extends a “thumbs-up” to Boeing and all of its employees at the North Charlestown facility for achieving this first customer ship milestone.
Perhaps Boeing will be a bit more open-minded and extend invitations to recognized blogs such as ours to visit the facility at some point.