Boeing South Carolina workers have met production goals to qualify for a bonus. They must now sustain those production levels through May 12 to take home the reward.

That's the message Boeing's top local executive sent to employees Wednesday in the 787 Dreamliner factory in North Charleston.

Jack Jones, Boeing South Carolina's general manager, said workers met goals on jobs behind schedule and assembly work on the aft- and mid-body sections of the Dreamliner two days before Wednesday's deadline, qualifying them for full productivity performance bonuses, according to an internal company statement.

Boeing offered the bonuses to South Carolina workers after production work fell behind earlier this year as less-seasoned workers tried to meet new demands of building three jets per month in North Charleston and making parts for the 787-9, a new version of the twin-aisle passenger carrier. The company decided last year to let its more experienced contract workers go at the fledgling airplane-manufacturing site, further contributing to production problems. It has since brought many back to get production back on track.

"Our site is now in the range representative of a healthier production system," Jones said in the statement Wednesday. "Achieving this milestone is a huge accomplishment and puts us on a direct path to a full PPA (productivity performance award) payout for the site."

As part of the bonus deal, Boeing workers must maintain the level of production for 10 manufacturing days after it was achieved before the payout can be issued, Jones said. The 10 days started Tuesday.

More than 5,000 permanent Boeing employees will take home bonuses sometime within 30 days after May 12 if the production levels are maintained until then. The plant has about 7,500 workers, but many of those are contract employees who do not qualify for the incentive pay. The company does not break down the actual number of permanent and contract workers.

Factory floor workers will get 8 percent of their base pay for the previous 12 months while office workers, engineers and other white-collar employees will receive a flat $2,500 bonus.

"Boeing South Carolina teammates have significantly reduced jobs behind schedule across the site and have increased the condition of assembly of aft- and mid-body fuselage sections being delivered to Everett (Wash.) and South Carolina final assembly," Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said Wednesday.

Eslinger declined to release specific information about production until employees are notified sometime over the next several days, but she added, "We're progressing well to our plan."

Boeing makes parts for and assembles the 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston. The Chicago-based company is building 10 of the passenger jets a month between North Charleston and Everett, where the planes are also assembled. Locally, the goal is to make three a month by mid-summer.

In his internal message, Jones complimented the workers and said they achieved the goals despite two ice storms that shut down Lowcountry roads in January and February, supplier parts shortages and repairing wing cracks from a Japan manufacturer's error.

"Despite these unexpected challenges, in just three months you sacrificed, dug in to the point that we have seen nearly a 70 percent reduction in the number of (jobs behind schedule), and we have positioned ourselves to meet our (condition of assembly) levels from mid-body and aft-body to final assembly during the 10 manufacturing-day sustainment period," Jones said.

"Every (Boeing South Carolina) teammate should take great pride in the strides made since January. I know the money is significant, but even more significant is the realization of less overtime, more weekends off and a smoother, more-efficient production operation," he added. "All of this is possible once we stabilize and maintain at these levels.

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