SEATTLE - Boeing announced Wednesday that it will build the longest version of the 787 Dreamliner exclusively in its factory in North Charleston, S.C.
Production of both the original 787-8 model and the new 787-9 will continue to take place in Everett, Washington, the company said in a press release. All three models will also be built in Charleston, but the 787-10 will be built exclusively in South Carolina.
The 787-10 will be 18 feet longer than the 787-9 with a long mid-body section. The company says that section is too long to be transported aboard the modified 747-400 Dreamlifters that move large parts, including body sections and wings, from factories in Italy, Japan and South Carolina. Most body sections are now built in Charleston.
What is currently known as Boeing South Carolina started out as two suppliers back to provide fuselage parts early in the 787 program. Boeing bought out those suppliers and, in 2009, chose to make Charleston a second assembly line site for the 787. Part of the reason for that decision was to fend off any further strike disruption from the Machinists Union, which had work stoppages against the company in 2005 and 2008.
Boeing has a long-term contract extension in place into the early 2020s -- a contract that sharply divided Machinists over Boeing's offer to build a new factory for the wing of the new 777-X in Everett, in exchange for changes to the union's retirement plan.
Boeing says the design of the 787-10 will continue in Everett.
Controversy has long followed the Charleston factory, with workers in Everett complaining about the quality of parts coming from the site. The company has put both pressure and incentives onto the Charleston work force to come up to speed, something the company claims has now happened.
Boeing says Everett will continue to assemble seven 787s per month, with Charleston increasing from the current rate of three airplanes per month to five in 2016 and seven by the end of the decade.
The 787-10 has 132 orders from six customers.