When Boeing hands over the keys — yes, there are keys, albeit ceremonial — for a 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines, it will be the first time one of the aerospace giant's new commercial planes has made its initial delivery outside of the Seattle area.
But the significance of Sunday's event, both to Boeing and the Charleston region, extends far beyond that bit of trivia.
The company's decision in 2009 to build a second 787 assembly line in North Charleston was a shift in the company's longstanding history of consolidating production in the Puget Sound, and the geographic diversity would help the company weather regional disruptions — man-made or otherwise.
The Dreamliner would be the most technologically advanced jet to date, made of cutting-edge lightweight composite materials and parts sourced from dozens of vendors around the globe. The 787-10, the only Boeing jet built exclusively in North Charleston, would be the newest, largest and most fuel-efficient member of the fleet.
And South Carolina's right-to-work laws would give Boeing a hedge against West Coast union pressures.
The decision also put the Charleston area squarely on the global manufacturing stage.
Boeing's arrival lifted a community still reeling from the U.S. Navy's departure more than a decade earlier, helping to revitalize the economy in a way few could have predicted. Once largely reliant on tourism and the military, the Charleston region has flourished as an advanced manufacturing center, adding international car and commercial van manufacturers, tech firms and a revitalized seaport.
Thousands of new, good-paying jobs — about 7,000 of them at Boeing alone — have made Charleston a magnet for newcomers, creating one of the Southeast's hottest job and real estate markets.
And now a plane that wasn't supposed to be built — Boeing initially envisioned a smaller jet with fewer seats and less range — and a city that wasn't on the company's map when the Dreamliner program was first conceived are combining to make American aviation history.
All to prove that even in the hyper-precise, engineering-driven world of high-tech aerospace design and production, a little serendipity can be a good thing.