Updated: Boeing’s North Charleston plant delivers first 787 to China Southern
Boeing South Carolina has delivered its first 787 Dreamliner to an airline not named Air India.
In case there weren’t enough indications that Boeing’s North Charleston operation is central to the company’s future, another hint came last week when it held its supplier summit.
More than 110 people representing more than 60 suppliers attended the June event, said Boeing.
The Puget Sound Business Journal called it an effort to “encourage a greater supply-chain presence in South Carolina” and push for cost-cutting.
In May, Boeing held its 2013 investor conference in the Lowcountry. In April, the company announced it would invest another $1.1 billion and hire 2,000 more people in South Carolina over eight years.
China Southern Airlines became the local plane-making plant’s second customer Tuesday when it signed for and flew away one of the high-tech twin-aisle jets.
The plane, sporting a mostly blue paint scheme featuring a red flower on the tail, took off from North Charleston around 1 p.m., according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. It made a stop for fuel in the Seattle area before continuing on to Guangzhou, China.
Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger, who confirmed the delivery, explained 787s can’t take off fully fueled from Charleston International Airport because the longer main runway is still closed for construction.
The jet, the 95th Dreamliner Boeing has assembled between its factories in North Charleston and Everett, Wash., was the second 787 China Southern has received of the 10 it’s ordered. The airline, the first Chinese carrier to get the 787, took its first Dreamliner from Everett a month ago.
The first five South Carolina-made jets went to Air India; the local plant also delivered two Everett-built 787s to Air India last year.
More deliveries are expected soon. The North Charleston flight line is packed with planes for Air India, China Southern, Hainan Airlines and Qatar Airways, and there are more partially completed planes inside the centerpiece final assembly building.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.