Boeing makes different kind of plane near airport

Boeing South Carolina said this stormwater feature in North Charleston initially wasn’t intentionally designed to look like an airplane.

Passengers on flights approaching Charleston International might be surprised by what they see when they glance out their windows during an approach to landing — another airplane staring right back at them.

Boeing South Carolina is carving out a much-larger-than-lifesize airplane feature at a stormwater retention pond it is building along Michaux Parkway at the planemaker’s North Charleston campus next to the airport.

The 1.5-acre land feature — no word on whether it’s modeled after the 787 Dreamliners made nearby — extends into a 20-acre pond along Michaux Parkway. The pond itself is about the size of 15 football fields and can hold about the same amount of water as 100 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The airplane feature, while a perfect landmark for Boeing, also serves the purpose of baffling incoming stormwater, something required by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is a feature that is unique to Boeing South Carolina,” said Boeing spokesman Robert Gross, adding “we don’t have any plans for similar features elsewhere on Boeing property at this time.”

Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said it wasn’t in the original plan. During the design phase, the team noticed the “baffle feature” was naturally taking on the shape of an airplane — unintentionally,” Eslinger said. “So they just went with it, and built it out to really look like one.”

About 240 workers at the KapStone Paper and Packaging mill in North Charleston will vote late this month or in early June on whether they want to be represented by the United Steelworkers Union, according to a petition for a vote filed by the union this month with the National Labor Relations Board.

This would be the first Charleston area union election under the NLRB’s expedited rules, which call for elections to be held as soon as 14 days after a petition is filed. An election date for KapStone has not been set, according to the NLRB’s website.

It was unclear whether the petition is related to a collective bargaining agreement that expires June 30.

KapStone said in its 2014 annual report that about 2,500 of its 3,248 hourly employees are represented by unions, primarily United Steelworkers.

The company this year announced that it completed upgrades to three papermaking machines at the Cooper River mill, which the company bought from MeadWestvaco Corp. in 2008. The upgrades are part of an ongoing $115 million capital improvement project at the Virginia Avenue factory, which employs about 980 workers.

The paper mill is among the five biggest manufacturers in the region, according to Charleston County.