Soaring achievement Boeing’s North Charleston campus delivers 100th Dreamliner

Boeing South Carolina workers make their way past the 100th 787 Dreamliner to be delivered from the North Charleston campus.

Boeing South Carolina on Tuesday turned over the 100th North Charleston-made Dreamliner to American Airlines — just about four years after the plant’s first wide-body jet rolled off the assembly line.

With the experience and efficiencies the North Charleston campus has gained during that period, Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, told the hundreds of employs gathered to see American accept its Dreamliner that “the next 100 will happen in about half the time.”

“Reaching this milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team,” Wyse said. “As we continue to prepare for the new 787-10 and production rate increases, we’re excited about what the future holds here in North Charleston.”

The 787-8 delivered to American is the 14th Dreamliner in the fleet of the nation’s largest airline. Wyse called Boeing’s partnership with the carrier “long, critical and distinguished.”

American is scheduled to take delivery of 20 more 787-8 models and 22 787-9s, with the first of those newer, slightly longer Dreamliners scheduled for delivery this fall.

“We love our 787s — they allow us to fly routes that wouldn’t be possible otherwise,” said Terri Pope, vice president of the Charlotte hub for American Airlines, the carrier’s second-largest hub behind Dallas-Fort Worth.

American Airlines has flown 445,000 passengers more than 11 million miles on its Dreamliners, and the airline is the nation’s only one to have counted every Boeing heritage airplane — from the 707 to the 787 — in its fleet.

“The 787 has quickly become an important part of our fleet, allowing us to fly profitably to new places like Auckland, New Zealand,” Chuck Schubert, the airline’s vice president of network planning, said in a statement. “When we’re trying to match the right plane to each route, the 787 is a great aircraft to have.”

Tuesday’s delivery is the 374th in the Dreamliner program’s history.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with Strategic Aero Research, said the 100th delivery signals Boeing South Carolina has overcome its early-program production issues to produce “a revolutionary new family of airplanes.”

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“Boeing South Carolina still has to surmount quality issues through its learning curve and embrace yet another couple of rate increases on the 787 while factoring in the bigger 787-10,” Ahmad said. “But with experience of integrating the 787-9 into their production and assembly stream, the BSC team will at least have a more favorable understanding of how to battle through any hiccups.

Boeing has about 7,500 employees and contract workers in the region. It also builds the 787 in Everett, Wash.

Boeing plans to increase production of the 787 to 12 per month later this year and 14 per month by the end of the decade. The company also will start production of the 787-10 — the longest and most fuel-efficient of the Dreamliner family — this year. The 787-10 will be built exclusively in North Charleston

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_