US planemaker Boeing is likely to make an announcement in the coming weeks that will see it move all of its 787 Dreamliner manufacturing to its factory in South Carolina.
Currently, the Dreamliner manufacturing is split across two plants – Boeing’s inaugural Seattle-based plant in Everett, and its newer factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.
However, barring a last-minute U-turn on the part of Boeing, all manufacturing of the 787 is likely to be transferred to North Charleston, as the planemaker looks to cut costs.
As demand for new jets plummets across the board amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Boeing is unlikely to be able to sustain the two 787 manufacturing centres for much longer.
Boeing has said it will cut 787 output down to just six planes per month, down from its recent highpoint of 14.
The company has previously touted the idea of consolidating its 787 manufacturing in the past, with the South Carolina factory the only suitable option, as it is the only plant capable of constructing the largest widebody in the Dreamliner family – the 787-10.
Sources close to the matter suggest an official announcement on the move could be made as soon as October, when Boeing is due to report on its earnings.
What happens next for Everett?
The consolidation of Dreamliner manufacturing away from Everett, as well as the impending end of all 747 manufacturing by 2022, will mean that Everett will be left only to construct its 767 and 777 variants in Boeing’s original hometown of Seattle.
Following the move, Everett will likely be producing no more than five jets per month, roughly three times less output than last year.
It’s a move that will likely displease unions and politicians in Washington state, both of which are very involved in Boeing’s Everett operations. The South Carolina plant is notably non-unionised.
Some sources suggest that Boeing may relocate its 737 MAX operations from its south Seattle plant at Renton to Everett, however this is far from the immediate priority of Boeing in relation to that aircraft.
It is also considered as a less likely outcome in the immediate future, as a current backlog of 737 MAX orders persist, despite the current troubles faced by the aircraft.