Boeing to make site selection on 777X production within 3 months

Boeing is expected to make a decision on where it will build the new 777X passenger jet within three months, Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said today during the Dubai Air Show.

“We have a number of alternatives,” Boeing’s top executive told reporters at the air show, adding that the goal is to find sites that provide a competitive price and low risk, according to Bloomberg News. “We are going through an evaluation right now.”

The Chicago-based aerospace company is scouting locations for the new version of its top-selling 777 airplane after the Machinists union rejected an eight-labor contract last week that would have guaranteed production in Washington state.

Boeing has not said what the alternatives are, but speculation is that North Charleston, where the company is buying 267 acres of land adjacent to its 787 Dreamliner assembly operation, is on the list.

Other rumored locations include Long Beach, Calif.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Huntsville, Ala.; San Antonio, Texas, and other locations outside the U.S., including Japan and the Middle East for parts of the plane.

Boeing is expected to start production of the new airplane in 2017 or 2018 with the first flight by 2020.

The company picked up orders for 259 of the new 777 model from four customers across Europe and the Middle East during the Dubai Air Show on Sunday, a commitment valued at $95 billion.

Several South Carolina politicians said last week they have been in touch with Boeing about the prospects of landing production of the 777X or some of its parts in the Palmetto State. Gov. Nikki Haley said Friday it was too early to talk about incentives the state might offer to lure the job-producing operation.

Boeing has not commented, except to say it is making good on its promise to open the process to competitive bidding from other states outside Washington, which has already approved $8.7 billion in tax breaks for Boeing through 2040 if it decides to build the plane in the Evergreen State.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.

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