Official: Boeing to ‘build another line’ in South Carolina

A South Carolina politician thinks the Boeing Co. will add another jet production line at its North Charleston facility.

“Boeing is going to come here and build another line,” Chip Limehouse told the Charleston County Aviation Authority during a meeting Thursday, according to this report from The Post and Courier newspaper.

What gives Limehouse’s remarks some teeth: He’s not only a Republican state House representative but he’s also the chairman of the county aviation authority, which gives the OK for projects around Charleston International Airport.

Boeing already has a 787 final-assembly line, as well as 787 subassembly facilities, at the North Charleston site.

Limehouse told the aviation authority: “Boeing has come to us and asked us for a huge portion of our land.” When asked by The Post and Courier, a Boeing spokeswoman declined to confirm Limehouse’s comments about another jet line, saying the company routinely evaluates its real estate portfolio.

Boeing established the original 787 assembly line in Everett, following a 2003 search by the company to find the right spot to assemble the mostly composite Dreamliner. Boeing relies on global partners to supply major sections of the plane.

Those suppliers had included Vought Aircraft Industries and Global Aeronautica — both were operating at the South Carolina site. But Boeing bought out both suppliers. Workers at Boeing’s 787 final assembly sites in Everett and North Charleston piece together the major assemblies supplied by Boeing’s partners.

Boeing has more than 860 orders for the 787. The company is increasing Dreamliner production with the intent of reaching a pace of 10 jets monthly — three in North Charleston and seven in Everett — by the end of 2013. However, company officials have said they believe there’s potential to go to higher production rates.

Here in Washington, lawmakers have been trying to keep Boeing production work in the state. Boeing opted to keep production on the updated 737 MAX at its Renton site, which already builds the existing single-aisle jet. On the horizon for Boeing, though, are the 787-10, a larger version of the Dreamliner, and a refreshed twin-aisle 777, the present version of which is built in Everett.

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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