Boeing Co. delivered more 787s during the third quarter than it has in a year, even though the aerospace giant has cut more than 1,000 jobs at its North Charleston manufacturing campus in the past 12 months.
In all, 35 Dreamliners went to 19 different customers during the July through September period, upping its year-to-date delivery total to 100 of the wide-body commercial planes built with lightweight composite materials.
Boeing had delivered 104 Dreamliners through the first three quarters of 2016.
Meanwhile, company-wide cost-cutting has led to a 13.1 percent drop in workforce totals at Boeing's operations in North Charleston. Boeing South Carolina reported 6,943 employees and contractors as of Sept. 28, down from 7,989 workers a year ago.
Automation is leading to some of the workforce declines. This week, Darrel Larson, director of 787 aft body operations in North Charleston, showed off some of the company's newest robots to Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the United States, who was visiting the plant to promote an Open Skies free trade pact.
"Where we have work that is highly repetitive is the target for robotic automation," Larson told the ambassador.
The job cuts, which have included three rounds of layoffs and voluntary buyouts, put Boeing's North Charleston workforce at its lowest level since October 2013. Throughout the company, Boeing has cut its workforce by 8 percent over the past year.
The cuts don't appear to be affecting production, as Boeing is within reach of bringing at least 130 Dreamliners to customers for the third straight year.
The company's assembly plant in Everett, Wash., accounted for 20 of the third-quarter Dreamliner deliveries, while the North Charleston site brought 15 787s to customers.
All but six of the planes that customers flew home in the third quarter were the newer mid-size 787-9 model, with the shorter 787-8 making up the rest.
AerCap, the world's largest aircraft leasing firm, took delivery of seven Dreamliners during the third quarter, and Air India and Etihad Airways received three apiece.
The quarter's most notable delivery was a 787-8 that went to British Airways on Sept. 26 — the 600th Dreamliner to find a customer, just six years and a day after the first.
"To deliver 600 Dreamliners in six years is quite notable for a wide-body aircraft program, and especially so for the 787 which had so much trouble in the early years," said analyst Uresh Sheth, who compiles production data on his All Things 787 website.
The 787-10 — the longest and most fuel efficient member of the Dreamliner family — is still in the flight-test phase, with the first delivery to Singapore Airlines scheduled for next year. Boeing announced this week that the first production "Dash 10" rolled out of the North Charleston assembly building and will be painted in Singapore Airlines livery.
There currently are 177 orders for the 787-10. United Airlines, which has ordered 14 of the planes, will be the first U.S. airline to get one.
The 787-10 will be built exclusively in North Charleston because its mid-body is too large to transport to the West Coast in one of Boeing's modified 747s called the Dreamlifter.