An aerospace supplier in Orangeburg will figure in the production of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.
The Chicago-based aerospace giant has selected GKN Aerospace in England to produce winglets for the new single-aisle aircraft. Final assembly of the advanced technology part will occur at GKN’s plant in Orangeburg, according to a Boeing statement.
The wingtip device for the 737 MAX is designed to reduce drag and optimize performance over longer ranges.
“(This) draws on our expertise in the efficient manufacture of complex composite and metallic wing structures and makes full use of our ability to assemble this advanced structure,” said Marcus Bryson, CEO of GKN Aerospace and Land Systems in a statement.
A GKN spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email asking if the winglet work will result in new jobs at its Orangeburg facility.
The GKN plant in Orangeburg began operations last year with 75 employees over the first year and up to 300 within five years, according to GKN. It assembles all-composite fuselages for Honda’s HondaJet light business jet.
When the Orangeburg plant was announced in 2011, a GKN official said he expected the facility over the longer term “to serve a range of aerospace customers on assembly tasks across civil and military aviation.”
The first flight for the next generation of the 737s is set for 2016 with deliveries to customers beginning in 2017.
The winglet, one of several design updates for the 737 MAX, will deliver an 8 percent per-seat cost advantage over future competition, Boeing said.
“As Boeing celebrates 75 years of partnership with the UK in 2013, this agreement helps to ensure that our strong relationship with the UK aerospace industry continues for many years to come,” said Sir Roger Bone, president of Boeing in the UK.
GKN received its first winglet contract for Boeing aircraft in 2007 and is one of two winglet suppliers for the new airplane. Korean Air Aerospace Division in South Korea is the other.
Boeing already has more than 1,600 orders for the new passenger jet. The company is forecasting a market for 24,670 single-aisle airplanes worth $2.29 trillion between 2013 and 2032.
Parts for the 737 MAX will also be made in North Charleston.
Boeing broke ground last month on a 225,000-square-foot building called Propulsion South Carolina in Palmetto Commerce Park where engine inlet components will be designed and assembled for the 737 MAX and possibly future airplanes. The building is expected to be completed in about a year.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.