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Vought plant completes first 787 fuselage section

May 9, 2007
Charleston Regional Business Journal
By Dan McCue
Workers at Vought Aircraft Industries’ North Charleston plant completed their first composite sections for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and paused just long enough Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the 38-foot-long piece of high-tech aircraft technology in a webcast to their colleagues at the company’s headquarters in Dallas.

Later today a custom-made transporter will carry the assembly, which is comprised of two separate sections making up the last passenger seating area of the aircraft and its first cargo hold, about 200 yards to Global Aeronautica, Vought’s joint venture with Italian aerospace company Alenia Aeronautica.

There it will be wrapped and prepared for shipping before being loaded onto the specially designed cargo carrier, the Boeing Dreamlifter, and flown to Everett, Wash., to be joined to the other sections of the aircraft.

Although Boeing, which oversees cargo flights between its contracting facilities, is tight-lipped about the Dreamlifter’s schedule, Vought officials said they expect the aft fuselage to leave the Lowcountry by the end of the week.

“Today is an historic milestone for Vought,” said Ted Perdue, vice president of Vought’s 787 Division. “Our company hasn’t done anything on this scale in quite some time, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”

Boeing currently has more than 550 orders for the Dreamliner, making it the most successful launch of a new commercial aircraft in history. This first section comprises about 23% of a 787 that will be delivered to Japan’s All-Nippon Airways on July 8.

The sheer volume of orders to date and those expected to come in the future guarantee a bright future for the plant, Perdue said.

“A lot of customers means a lot of jobs to come here to the Lowcountry for years to come,” he said.

About 145 people at the North Charleston facility had a direct hand in building the section, as did hundreds of engineers at Vought’s headquarters, said Lynne Warne, the spokeswoman for the plant.
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