Boeing juggernaut powers ahead
It’s becoming clear: Boeing is a juggernaut. And like it or not, it’s impressive to behold. Just consider the recent evidence.
After years of delays, Boeing was flying high to begin 2013, having delivered 50 of its prize 787 Dreamliners and in the midst of an aggressive production ramp-up in both North Charleston and Everett, Wash.
Then, on Jan. 7, a Dreamliner parked in Boston caught fire, and a week later another flying over Japan also experienced a smoky battery malfunction.
And just like that, Boeing’s most high-tech, high-profile plane of the past decade was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, bringing worldwide flights to a halt.
Chicago, we have a problem.
Boeing immediately set to studying the issue and working on a fix, but the longer the mystery remained unsolved, the more dire the predictions became — about when the planes would be back in the air, how Boeing would absorb a potentially multibillion- dollar loss, and whether the CEO could withstand the storm.
Then, last month, the FAA approved Boeing’s plan to test its redesigned 787 battery system, and on April 5, Boeing completed the recertification flight test. It’s not a sure thing, but the prevailing view seems to be the FAA will allow the 787 to return to flight soon.
While contending with that major speed bump, the company has pressed ahead on other fronts.
Boeing announced job cuts in Puget Sound as well as contractor layoffs at the North Charleston factory. It moved forward with construction projects at its complex at Charleston International Airport and plans to acquire more land nearby.
All the while, it was revealed last week, Boeing was talking with the state lawmakers about an incentive package to help pay for that expansion.
According to the deal, Boeing will to invest at least $1.1 billion in South Carolina and hire 2,000 more people by 2021 in exchange for $120 million in state bond money.
The Senate already has passed the bill, and the House will consider it on a fast-track basis starting Tuesday.
Remember, not four years ago, the Legislature voted to give Boeing a package worth at least $900 million, by The Post and Courier’s reckoning.
To recap, while its flagship program, an estimated $14 billion investment, was out of business for months, Boeing pressed on, making 787s and executing on its grand strategy.
On Friday morning, backhoes could be seen moving earth near clumps of downed trees along International Boulevard, and new framework jutted from the aft-fuselage factory.
Inside the factories, 787 production continued.
The Boeing juggernaut rolls on.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_ brendan.