Boeing expansion plans

Boeing will add 276,000 square feet to the building in which it makes aft-fuselage sections (above) for the 787 Dreamliner.

The latest expansion of the Boeing South Carolina campus will add more work space to accommodate a quicker production schedule but no permanent new jobs, the company said Tuesday.

In all, Boeing plans to enlarge two of its existing buildings at Charleston International Airport by about 313,000 square feet over the next two years, spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said.

The Post and Courier reported Boeing’s construction plans Saturday based on permit requests the company filed with state environmental regulators. The aerospace giant was not ready to discuss the new investment last week because employees had not yet been officially notified, Eslinger said.

The bulk of the work involves tacking another 276,000 square feet onto the existing 467,000-square-foot plant where Boeing makes aft-fuselage sections for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.

Eslinger said Boeing began looking at ways to make that factory run more efficiently in 2009, when the company bought it from Vought Aircraft Industries Inc.

“The result was months of reviews, studies and discussions,” she said.

Boeing is going ahead with the investment now because the plant is gearing up to make 10 aft-fuselage sections a month for delivery to the 787 final assembly plants in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.

“This is going to help us more efficiently achieve the production rates we’ve committed to,” Eslinger said.

Also, Boeing is adding about 37,000 square feet to a building where the 787 aft- and mid-fuselage sections are painted. That project had been on the drawing board for about three years, Eslinger said.

“We’re implementing that now,” Eslinger said.

While they will support local construction jobs, the building projects are not expected to significantly boost Boeing’s payroll in North Charleston.

“The expansion is all about gaining efficiencies in the production flow,” Eslinger said. “We don’t anticipate adding any positions in connection with this expansion, outside of the ones we have in our hiring system now.”

The 787 program is making 3.5 airplanes a month now, and Boeing plans to increase that rate to five per month by the end of this year and 10 per month by the end of 2013.

Boeing South Carolina has rolled out three 787s so far, but its first customer, Air India, has yet to pick up any of them. Eslinger said Tuesday she had no update on the delivery schedule.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.