Boeing hits another milestone: Assembly building gets 1st finished aft-body section

Charleston Post and Courier
Brendan Kearney
August 24, 2011

Even before Hurricane Irene planning ramped up, it had already been a notably busy week at Boeing in North Charleston.

As the production campus near the airport continues to take final shape, so does the first 787 Dreamliner within its largest building.

Monday morning, workers wheeled into the massive final assembly and delivery building a completed aft-body section of what will become the first South Carolina-assembled Dreamliner.

Whereas previous versions of the composite-shelled piece were constructed in the former Vought Aircraft Industries building and flown to Everett, Wash., to be assembled there, this aft-body was simply rolled north several hundred feet to the neighboring assembly building, which itself opened for business in June.

“The aft-body is now in final assembly, and it is the last major component to arrive before we start putting together our first 787,” Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said.

The Kansas-made forward fuselage, the Italian-made center fuselage and the Asian-made wings were already in “position zero” at the final assembly building as of last week. The engines won’t arrive until next month, as the plane proceeds through the U-shaped, eight-step production line.

Boeing expects the Federal Aviation Administration to certify its Dreamliner at its Everett factory on Friday morning, according to The Seattle Times newspaper. The 787 is more than three years behind schedule.

Also on Monday, Boeing opened its welcome center, the company’s International Boulevard entrance complex appropriately topped by a 400-foot wing.

The 16,500-square-foot building houses a staffed security checkpoint and visitor-badging office, as well as meeting rooms, according to Eslinger. Before this weekend, the security guard operated from a temporary booth, and visitor-badging was located in a temporary trailer just beyond the welcome center.

Other Charleston-area Boeing construction projects also are nearing completion.

“The Hub,” where Boeing workers will be able to buy food and Boeing-branded gifts, will be open by the end of September. But one important aspect of the new building between the campus’ principal production facilities is already open.

“We have just opened that up for a naming contest,” Eslinger said. She said it’s only right that the employee services center will be named by an employee.

The delivery center, where airlines will accept their Dreamliners, is slated for a November opening. And the interiors responsibility center, the facility in Palmetto Commerce Park where stow bins, partitions, video-control stations and other inside features will be manufactured, will open in December, Eslinger said.

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