EVERETT — Last month, Snohomish County officials pledged to show Boeing the love. This week they unveiled a campaign to convince the company to keep a 787 assembly line in Everett.
County and city of Everett leaders hope the “Better With Boeing” marketing campaign will turn some corporate heads. The slogan is accompanied by custom logos for every city in the county, plus talking points.
With the airline industry in a crisis because of the coronavirus, the Chicago-based airplane maker said it is mulling whether to consolidate production of the twin-aisle 787 in one location.
However, the campaign is intended to support all of the company’s assembly lines, not just the Everett 787 line, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said in an interview. “When Boeing hurts, we hurt,” she said.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said consultants have told the county that the fate of the 787 line could be announced later this month and coincide with the close of the third quarter on Sept. 30.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be a business decision,” Somers said.
Production of the 787 is now split between Boeing’s Everett campus and the company’s assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.
But with Boeing cutting the production rate of the 787 from 10 a month to six a month, the need for two assembly sites doesn’t seem necessary.
With Puget Sound’s higher labor and production costs, analysts have bet that the 787 assembly line at Everett’s Paine Field is the less likely choice. Consolidating all 787 work in South Carolina would potentially result in thousands of job losses at the Everett assembly plant at Paine Field.
Recently, possible safety issues related to the production and assembly of 787s built at the South Carolina plant have surfaced, adding another twist to the story. Federal regulators are investigating the lapses at the North Charleston facility, where fuselage sections for all 787s are fabricated.
Further complicating the issue is that the “stretch” version of the airplane, the 787-10, is built only at the North Charleston facility. Fuselages for the -8 and -9 models are delivered to the Everett plant via Dreamlifter airplanes — specially enlarged 747s. But the -10 fuselage is too long to fit inside a Dreamlifter. So that model is fully assembled only in South Carolina.
In other words, the South Carolina 787 assembly line can’t be closed until the -10 model and key components for all three versions of the plane can be built in Everett.
The county’s “Better with Boeing” campaign doesn’t mention the recent quality-control lapses at the South Carolina plant, which are under review by the Federal Aviation Administration. Instead, the campaign to keep the 787 in Everett highlights the strengths of this region and “reinforces why Boeing’s long-term success is rooted in growing operations in Washington state,” according to an announcement of the campaign’s launch on Tuesday.
“The campaign’s message to Boeing is that we are better with Boeing, and Boeing’s future is brighter right here in Washington state,” according to a news release.
The $25,000 marketing campaign is paid for by county funds earmarked for economic development.
In the news release, Somers noted that the county’s partnership with Boeing spans more than 50 years. “Generations of Snohomish County residents have built their careers at Boeing — designers, engineers, machinists and other professionals. They’ve built the company and shaped its success, and we hope this relationship continues for many decades to come.”
Franklin said that Boeing workers and their families “form the fabric of our community. Who doesn’t know someone who works at Boeing?“
“Boeing is part of our identity as a region, and we’ve built an incredible aerospace workforce development pipeline here in our community,” Franklin said. “We’re definitely better with Boeing and through the partnerships and skilled workforce we have, Boeing is better with us.”
Hundreds of Boeing’s suppliers have set up shop all over the county, “creating a unique and collaborative environment where innovation thrives,” Tuesday’s news release says.
The campaign is co-led by Snohomish County and the City of Everett with support from the cities of Arlington, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Marysville and Mountlake Terrace. Other supporters include the Port of Everett, Washington State University, the Aerospace Futures Alliance, the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, Economic Alliance Snohomish County and Greater Seattle Partners, a public-private economic development corporation.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods