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A WestJet 787-9 prepares for a test flight at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Boeing Produces Final Boeing 787 Dreamliner From Everett Plant

On Friday night at around 10 p.m., Boeing’s final 787 Dreamliner produced in Everett, Wa., exited the Boeing plant. The Dreamliner is scheduled for delivery with All Nippon Airways (ANA) as line number 1095. 

By March 2021, Boeing expects to consolidate its Boeing 787 Dreamliner production at its plant in North Charleston, Sc.  The move was announced in October 2020 as part of an initiative to improve efficiency and performance while cutting costs for the manufacturer. It caused controversy as well, with Washington Governor Jay Inslee threatening to get rid of some of the many tax breaks Boeing enjoys as a massive job creator in the Pacific Northwest.

In recent years, quality issues have arisen at the plant in North Charleston, S.C. One issue arose from shims used to connect gaps between the aft fuselage being the wrong size. Additionally, some aircraft have inner surfaces at the join points of the fuselage that do not meet smoothness specifications.

In a 2019 survey reported by The Post and Courier, airlines claimed reports of shoddy production. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines reported numerous quality control issues and called aircraft it was receiving “way below acceptable standards.” These issues have caused some airlines, including Qatar Airways, to avoid aircraft delivered from the North Charleston plant.

In recent months, Boeing has trimmed production of the airliner to five aircraft per month, partially due to ongoing market conditions. If production ramps up in the future, it is unknown whether Boeing will reintroduce Everett Boeing 787 production in the future. However, Everett will still be a production center of Boeing’s 767 and 777 programs. Boeing’s 747 program is slated to end production in 2022.

The Washington-based manufacturer’s 1,000 employees currently working on the Boeing 787 at the Everett plant will transition to correcting issues with the fuselage, ensuring they are not laid off for the time being. The flight lines for Boeing 787 will also transition to allow for inspections to commence.

With the shift, workers and local politicians, alike, are concerned with long-term job security for many at Boeing. Some analysts suggest that jobs provided both directly and indirectly by Boeing in and around its Everett plant could fall from 50,000 to around 20,000.

Legacy of the Boeing 787

The aircraft manufacturer started production of the Boeing 787 on May 3, 2009, with the first test-Boeing 787 rolling out into the flight line in Everett. In September 2011, ANA took delivery of the first Boeing 787, one of the most successful new clean-sheet aircraft for the manufacturer in recent decades. The North Charleston plant opened in 2012 to supplement the production of the aircraft. The South Carolina plant is the only factory capable of manufacturing the Boeing 787-10 variant.

In 2013, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner experienced a battery issue that forced the grounding of the aircraft. The problem was quickly resolved, allowing for a speedy return to service. Smaller issues continued 

Ultimately, the Boeing 787 has proven to be one of the best new-generation widebody aircraft, opening up world markets to new long-haul opportunities.  For some airlines like LOT Polish Airlines, the airliner has become the backbone of their long-haul fleets. And though the Everett plant is shutting down, with over 1,500 total orders and more than 1,000 aircraft delivered, the program has been a success Boeing will carry long into the future.

Winston Shek
Winston Shek
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