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First 787-10 hits production milestone at Boeing S.C.

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Parts of the first 787-10 Dreamliner rolled across Boeing South Carolina’s campus in North Charleston on Wednesday.

Boeing South Carolina workers walked behind the massive sections of the plane chanting “Mid!” and “Aft!” — depending on which part of the plane they produced. The aft- and midbody sections of the first 787-10 were then delivered to Boeing S.C.’s Final Assembly facility for further work.

This is the first 787-10 ever produced and it is made solely in North Charleston, unlike the other Dreamliner derivatives — the 787-8 and 787-9 — which are made at North Charleston and Everett, Wash., Dreamliner facilities.

Several hundred workers cheered inside the massive Final Assembly building as the gap closed between the two pieces of the 787-10. Boeing leaders spoke of the workers’ accomplishments.

“It wasn’t very long ago that we were rolling out the first airplane. ... No one believed that we could build an airplane outside of Puget Sound, and we did,” said Patrick Shanahan, Boeing’s senior vice president of supply chain and operations, during the event. “People don’t understand how capable this facility is. This is the most integrated facility in the Boeing company. You have so much to be proud of.”

The aft, which is the rear of the plane, and the midbody, which is the larger, middle section, will be conjoined in Final Assembly with the front fuselage. Final assembly work will begin in the next few weeks.

The plane is one of three Dash-10 jets destined to remain with Boeing for test flights rather than be delivered to an airline customer.

The jet will undergo months of test flights once assembled. It will be painted on-site in Boeing S.C.’s new, 400,000-square-foot paint hangar, which is nearing completion. Planes are currently flown to suppliers around the country for painting.

The painting, flight tests and first flights are all expected to take place next year.

Darrel Larson, director of 787-10 build integration at Boeing S.C., said the program is then on track to deliver the first 787-10 to airline customers in 2018. No further timelines or details were disclosed for competitive reasons. Singapore Airlines will be the first airline to receive a 787-10 delivery.

The stretched version of the Dreamliner is 18 feet longer than the 787-9. The 787-10 has a range of 6,400 nautical miles and the capacity to hold 330 passengers. The newest and longest Dreamliner has 154 orders from nine customers globally.

“You are setting history in aviation,” Shanahan said. “No one builds 12 a month. You do that. This facility is the first one to develop and deliver a derivative outside of Puget Sound, another remarkable milestone.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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