Boeing, Vought Complete 787 Site Deal

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By Robert Wall

Boeing’s deal to buy Vought Aircraft Industries’ 787 operations in North Charleston, South Carolina is scheduled to close in the third quarter, the aircraft maker says.

Under the cash portion of the deal, Vought receives around $580 million from Boeing.

North Charleston is where 787 aft fuselage sections are built and systems are installed. The site has a 787 fuselage integration facility next door in which Boeing already is a 50:50 partner with Alenia and has become a logistics hub for the new jet’s worldwide distribution system.

In announcing the deal that has now been expected for several days, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson says “integrating this facility and its talented employees into Boeing will strengthen the 787 program by enabling us to accelerate productivity and efficiency improvements as we move toward production ramp-up.” He adds that it also should “bolster our capability to develop and produce large composite structures that will contribute to the advancement of this critical technology.”

Elmer Doty, president and CEO of Vought Aircraft Industries says that “the financial demands of this program are clearly growing beyond what a company our size can support.”

Vought will remain on the 787 supplier team.

At the Paris air show, Chairman and CEO James McNerney said the company would open a second 787 production line “eventually,” but left open the question of where and when. He spoke about a need to regain the manufacturing initiative once Boeing finds a way out of its two-year stall in 787 production. At the moment, that way forward has been clouded by negative wing-stress tests that some industry insiders fear might add another 18-month program delay. Clarity on this point is expected about July 22 when the manufacturing giant reports its second-quarter earnings.

Photo: Michael Mecham

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