The company has been building the 767 family of aircraft for 30 years and is offering a tanker version to the U.S. Air Force for a multi-billion dollar contract.
“It takes an incredible airplane to make it to the 1,000 unit,” Kim Pastega, general manager of the 767, told workers at a ceremony at the Everett plant Monday morning.
The 1,000th airplane also is the last 767 that will be built in the same area of the factory as the last 999.
oeing is moving the 767 line to the back part of the Everett factory to accommodate a temporary 787 surge line. That line will be in place until Boeing’s 787 final assembly line in North Charleston, S.C. is up and running.
Besides moving the 767 line to a different section of the factory, Boeing also is increasing the production rate on the jet. Over the last year, Boeing upped the 767 pace from one aircraft monthly to one and a half aircraft monthly. Boeing is preparing to increase the rate to two airplanes per month.
Unless Boeing lands the Air Force tanker contract or secures more commercial orders, the company could wrap up the 767 line in just over two years, based on its backlog of 50 orders.
Boeing is in the final round of answering questions from the Air Force, Pastega said. The company will then submit its final pricing.
The Air Force had been expected to announce a winner in the $35 billion contest this month. Pastega said the Air Force has told Boeing its announcement will come in early 2011. Boeing is competing against Europe’s EADS for the tanker contract.
“We think we have a winning proposal,” said Darrel Larson, director of 767 manufacturing.
This is the Air Force’s third attempt to replace its Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers built by Boeing. Last November, the Air Force admitted that it accidentally had supplied Boeing and EADS with information about each other’s tanker bid.
The Air Force does not believe the mix-up should cause the Pentagon to call off the contest. However, the Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to hold an oversight hearing on the matter this month at the request of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
While Boeing waits on the Air Force, “our team is really focused on the rate increase,” Larson said.
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