Boeing (NYSE: BA ) today announced its plans to begin construction of a new paint facility in the second half of 2014 in North Charleston, S.C. The company intends to paint fully assembled 787 Dreamliners in South Carolina by mid-2016 in the approximately 230,000-square-foot facility.
"Painting our airplanes in South Carolina supports our Lean manufacturing and production optimization initiatives," said Jack Jones, vice president and general manager, Boeing South Carolina, in a press release. "We can make our delivery process even more efficient by painting airplanes here in South Carolina, creating more value and convenience for our customers."
In addition to that announcement, the company also acquired access to a total of 468 acres in North Charleston, S.C., to protect for potential future growth -- potentially a direct shot at its Washington operations where union workers recently rejected Boeing's contract offer that would guarantee Washington's Everett plant production of its new 777X. The machinists union has recently sent another contract proposal back to Boeing, but a decision hasn't been reached. After the initial Nov. 13 contract rejection, Boeing is taking its time to shop around at as many as 15 locations around the U.S. to decide if it will move production from Washington to another site -- and South Carolina is in strong contention.
"This expansion makes future growth in North Charleston possible. While we expect to begin the permitting process immediately for this property, we have no specific plans for the land other than where we will locate the new paint facility," said Jones.
If Boeing were to move production from its Washington plant that has produced the 777 airplane to an area with a less experienced work force, risks could include potential production problems, budget overruns, and irritation among customers. Boeing has said it will be making its ultimate decision regarding its 777X production within the next couple of months.
On Thursday, Boeing announced it is shifting hundreds of jobs to Alabama, Missouri, and South Carolina as part of a restructuring of its U.S. research operations over the next two years. The Chicago-based aerospace company said the reorganization will result in fewer research jobs in Washington state and California and is being undertaken to better meet the needs of its commercial airplane, military and space and security units. Boeing spokesman Daryl Stephenson said the restructuring of the company's research operations has been in the works for several years.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.