SEATTLE -- Boeing Co. Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney has rejected the suggestion that recently disclosed internal documents show the company favors South Carolina as a location for building future airplanes.
But in an interview following the first 787 Dreamliner delivery this week, he added that Boeing will continue "diversifying our manufacturing base over time."
The question about the company's North Charleston campus arose from Boeing documents made public Friday by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers union.
The documents, obtained as part of the case brought by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing, came from an April 2009 presentation concerning the pros and cons of creating an alternative to the Everett, Wash., 787 assembly line.
One slide described the goal as "establishing long-term manufacturing capability outside of Puget Sound, starting with a second 787 final assembly line and progressing to the next new airplane program."
The following fall, Boeing chose North Charleston over Everett for the second line location.
McNerney was asked this week whether that meant the site at Charleston International Airport also is favored for future airplanes.
"If there is any place that's favored, it's right here in Everett and Renton (Wash.)," McNerney said. "This is where we have established production capability and engineering capability, and so there is a lot to argue for doing things here.
"But we also have to mindful of diversifying our manufacturing base over time," he added. "We're going to do it to produce the most competitive airplanes in the world."
When McNerney was pressed about the April 2009 presentation, he said he hadn't seen the documents released by the union and declined to comment.
Tom Downey, Boeing's senior vice president of communications, said the company doesn't plan to comment further on the documents.
"We're not going to engage in public to-and-fro on selective documents leaked out of the process. That battle is in the courts, and we'll leave that in the hands of the lawyers," Downey said.
Up and away
Signed, sealed and delivered, the first Boeing 787 took off from Everett, Wash., early Tuesday in the hands of launch customer All Nippon Airways.
Boeing officials handed over a ceremonial key to ANA executives Monday, after a three-year delay in bringing the new wide-body jetliner to market. The plane will go into service in November in Japan.
Airlines have ordered more than 800 of the planes.
The 787 is assembled at Boeing's wide-body factory in Everett and at a new plant Boeing opened in North Charleston in July.