Boeing seeks room to grow in S.C. but has ‘no plans’

Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh on Monday confirmed that the Boeing Co. is looking for room to grow near the 787 factory in North Charleston, S.C., though he said the company has no plans in particular. A report last Friday by The Post and Courier in Charleston quoted a local politician as saying Boeing intended to “build another line” near the South Carolina 787 assembly line and fabrication plant.

“We have no plans to do that,” Albaugh told Seattle Times reporter Dominic Gates after the ceremony to deliver two 787s to Japan Airlines. “But you know, you need to anticipate anything that might come along.” Wrote Gates:

“I don’t think you need to read too much into that, other than that we have rights to some land out there,” he said, then added that because of planned production hikes ahead of about 40 percent, Boeing will be growing all its facilities.

“We’re going to grow here in Puget Sound. We’re going to grow in Charleston. We’re going to grow in Salt Lake, in Winnipeg,” Albaugh said.

Albaugh’s answer clearly was intended to calm fears here that the company will place more work in South Carolina instead of Washington. Officials and others here spent much of 2011 nervously working to ensure Boeing is happy, and they were rewarded with the company’s decision in November to build the next generation of the 737, the MAX, in Renton. That effort to keep the state competitive as an aerospace center is ongoing, as we reported on Sunday.

There are projects to come, including the 777X and the 787-10. Boeing’s 2003 decision to build a second 787 line in South Carolina and not Everett is fresh on everyone’s mind.

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