Boeing delivers first 787

from The Post and Courier

Boeing Co. handed over the key for its first 787 wide-body jet to All Nippon Airways on Monday after years of delays, marking a long-awaited milestone in the history of commercial flight.

Thousands of workers gathered for the ceremony at Paine Field, outside the building where the planes are assembled, with many finding shelter from the rain under the wings of two yet-to-be-delivered 787s. The actual first ANA 787 was nearby at the Future of Flight aviation center, where it was being prepared for a reception Monday night and its flight to Japan today. The plane goes into service in November.

“You have no idea what you’ve achieved,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Jim Albaugh told the crowd, which included a contingent from the company’s South Carolina operation. “It’s not often in a career or a lifetime we have a chance to do something like this.”

Albaugh’s words, heard worldwide via webcast, had special meaning at Boeing’s 787 plant in North Charleston, where workers gathered around large projection screens on the production floors of the three main buildings to watch the delivery ceremony. A centrally parked satellite truck helped pipe in a clearer picture.

“The aft- and mid-body fuselage sections on that airplane came out of Charleston,” Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said Monday. “They took a keen interest in it. It was their airplane.”

The new jet is the first commercial airliner built using carbon fiber — a strong, lightweight, high-tech plastic — rather than the typical aluminum skin. It was supposed to be flying passengers three years ago but has been beset by production and design problems.

Airlines have ordered more than 800 of the plane that will compete with the Airbus A350.

The use of carbon fiber allowed for several other breakthroughs, including larger windows with electronic dimming rather than shades, and pressurization that’s more akin to what passengers feel at ground level. Without corrosion-prone aluminum, cabin humidity levels can be set higher, easing dry noses and throats. The lighter jet will be quieter and use about 20 percent less fuel than a comparably sized aluminum aircraft.

Albaugh handed a ceremonial key to the plane to Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO of ANA.

“Please take good care of it,” Albaugh said. “We’re very proud.”

The crowd cheered.

“I know the road that led to today was full of great difficulties,” Ito said through an interpreter. “Yet all of those challenges were overcome. … I say to each and every one of you, you have my utmost respect and deepest gratitude.”

Ito promised the plane would be carefully and lovingly taken to Japan, where people were eager to see it. He was to be on the flight.

Monday’s ceremony was emotional for many of the workers.

“When you hear about delays, they’re frustrating,” said employee Jim Conery. “But you have to turn it around and turn it into a challenge. Building airplanes is not for the weak.”
Evading the rain under one of the wings he worked on, Boeing mechanic and technician Tracy Thompson also acknowledged a mixture of frustration and pride.

“We had a lot of issues, a lot of problems, but they’re being resolved and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, with the first one being delivered,” he said. “The investment in this airplane is taking aviation leaps into the future.”

Peter Clark, an aviation industry analyst, traveled from Auckland, New Zealand, to attend the ceremony. He called the 787’s delivery one of the four major events in the history of commercial aviation, after the development of the Boeing 707, the 747 and Concorde.

“When it rolled out in 2007, it was just a piece of plastic on wheels. This is an amazing day. I’m proud to be here,” Clark said.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire called it a proud day for both Chicago-based Boeing and the state of Washington.

“Today’s delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner marks the beginning of a new chapter in the company’s history, and continues to tell the world — Washington state is the home for the most innovative, fuel-efficient airplanes around the globe,” she said.

787 ready for takeoff

by The Post & Courier

When Boeing hands over its first 787 Dreamliner to Japan’s All Nippon Airways today in Everett, Wash., the leadership of the aircraft manufacturer’s North Charleston plant will be on hand for the historic occasion.

Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said she didn’t “have all the names” of the local contingent making the trip but confirmed the “small group” would include Jack Jones and Marco Cavazzoni. Jones is general manager of Boeing South Carolina, and Cavazzoni is general manager of final assembly and delivery.

“I know both of them are going,” Eslinger said this week.

TV time

If you aren’t able to catch the big delivery day festivities during your lunch break today, you might tune in Tuesday night for a CNBC special titled “Dreamliner: Inside the World’s Most Anticipated Airplane.”

“With significant access inside the company,” the network promises, “CNBC Correspondent Phil LeBeau brings viewers to the factory floor and inside the executive suite to follow the high-stakes story of one of the last great American manufacturing companies.”

The hourlong documentary, which airs at 9 and 10 p.m., also examines the rocky relationship between Boeing and the International Aerospace Machinists Union. It is that strife that the National Labor Relations Board claims is the reason Boeing built a second 787 production line to South Carolina.

Local progress

The focus next week will be on the Pacific Northwest, but Boeing’s South Carolina plant has marked several of its own milestones recently.

This month, the major parts that will constitute the first locally assembled Dreamliner, made a small but important step forward. The fuselage, wings and other pieces moved from Position 0 to Position 1, the first progression along the U-shaped assembly line within the massive Final Assembly and Delivery building.

Whereas Position 0 is essentially a staging area, Position 1 is where the parts are joined together.

“It moved in phases,” Eslinger said when asked the date of the move. “It didn’t just all move together.”

The first plane’s General Electric engines, which arrived in late August, won’t be installed in the plane until it reaches position 2. That is likely to happen next month.

The plane must move through a total of eight positions before rolling onto the flight line. The first plane is expected to be finished by mid-2012.

Campus update

While the plane is taking shape inside the factory, the campus outside also is coming into form.

Construction continues around the periphery of the property next to the airport and there are still braces on the palmettos that line the plant’s entrance driveway, but the end is in sight.

After eating for months at a temporary facility, Boeing employees now can dine in the campus cafeteria.

Operated by facility services provider Eurest Thompson, it opened Sept. 12. The cafeteria is housed in a glassy building known as The Hub, which sits between the three main production facilities at the plant.

The rest of The Hub, which includes meeting space and other employee service offices, will open in mid-October, Eslinger said.

Another major feature also will be up and running in a few weeks: the rooftop solar panels. The 10-acre electricity farm, which consists of rows of thin, laminated strips, was announced in April. A collaboration with South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., it is expected to provide 20 percent of the site’s renewable energy.

It hasn’t been completely smooth-sailing over at Boeing. Last Friday, a North Charleston sewer system “lift pump mechanical malfunction” caused a wastewater backup at the assembly plant, Eslinger said in an email. Among the disruptions, work had to be stopped in one area “for less than an hour to allow for clean up,” she said.

Testing determined “there was no risk to the health or environment at our site,” she added.

Bringing Boeing to S.C.

from The Post & Courier

This momentous scene — state leaders hugging and crying as Gov. Mark Sanford signed with 10 commemorative pens the legislation that landed Boeing’s plant in North Charleston — came only after six years of patient courtship.

Boeing had considered locating its first 787 Dreamliner assembly line on that chunk of property near Charleston International Airport in 2003. Unable to woo the aerospace giant from its home near Seattle at that time, state business leaders immediately looked toward a second chance.

The tenacious suitor chased its prize at air shows in Paris and London and to hushed meetings in Charleston. The climax arrived Wednesday, with a bold promise made from the Statehouse floor.

Just minutes before the end of that business day, Boeing executives called an unnamed company official as he sat in Sen. Glenn McConnell’s office. He shared the decision that jolted Washington state: For its second assembly line, the company had chosen South Carolina.

Olympus to Gemini

When Boeing first took notice of North Charleston, the deal became known as “Project Olympus.” According to Charleston County economic development director Steve Dykes, most people involved didn’t blame the company for sticking with its Washington roots. The mere consideration paid off later for the Lowcountry, when it attracted Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. and Global Aeronautica to make fuselages for the Dreamliner at the airport site.

“We’ve kind of known ever since Vought landed here that this was a possibility,” Dykes said.

Around the time Boeing took over the Vought plant last summer, Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor called Dykes to notify him that “Project Gemini,” or the second assembly line, had been activated.

While readying the site for Vought years earlier, the Commerce Department’s project manager, Jack Ellenberg, had made sure to get the entire property permitted just in case. Then he and Dykes and others called on Boeing at the European air shows to ask, like an attentive server, if the company needed anything.

Ellenberg, who worked to bring BMW, Michelin and Google to South Carolina, supposes that part of South Carolina’s appeal came from its consistency.

“Companies can pick up the phone if they have a question,” Ellenberg said. “They know who’s going to answer the phone.”

When in August Boeing officials asked if they could have permits ready by Oct. 30 for an assembly line in North Charleston, Ellenberg could tell them he had been ready for years.

As Boeing’s intentions became clear, Ellenberg and Taylor began regularly meeting with Charleston business leaders, including everyone from the obvious economic development players to tourism officials. About 30 people convened at each meeting, bound not to disclose what unfolded inside.

“What we wanted people to do was to not necessarily talk about the company, but to talk about positive things here,” Taylor said. “When people’s neighbors or co-workers had questions, we wanted to make sure there were enough people out there to say we’re working this hard.”

Game of trust

South Carolina had laid a foundation, yes, but its sturdiness remained untested.

Greenville attorney and former federal judge Billy Wilkins heard concerns from state lawmakers that Boeing planned to use South Carolina only as leverage against Washington state and the union that represents its production workers there. The International Association of Machinists last year staged an eight-week strike in the Seattle area that compounded delays that had been dogging the 787 program for two years.

Wilkins relayed that conversation to a top Boeing executive he knew personally and then set up a meeting at his firm’s law office in Charleston. Sen. Larry Grooms, a Bonneau Republican, said that gathering at Nexsen Pruet about two months ago marked a turning point.

Boeing officials “shared with us that they had some concerns over the stability of government in South Carolina,” Grooms said, alluding to the then-recent news of the governor’s extramarital affair in Argentina. “They expressed some dissatisfaction.”

Although Wilkins would not explain his Boeing connection, he served as chief judge of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the company’s general counsel served on the bench. Another Nexsen Pruet attorney, Leighton Lord, said his firm began working with Boeing more than a year ago to represent the company in its takeover of the Vought portion of the fuselage plant.

“People were worried about the governor, and people were worried about a lot of things going on in our state for a couple of months,” Lord said.

Then lawmakers rallied and did so without publicity, and the game changed.

Boeing officials “were really kind of taken aback by it,” Lord said. “I don’t think they were used to it.”

Following the Charleston meeting, the Boeing discussions turned daily among involved lawmakers. They also started an active dialogue with the Commerce Department.

Sanford drew on a personal connection to Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney. The two had developed a business relationship decades earlier, thanks to McNerney’s friendship with first lady Jenny Sanford’s family in Chicago, where the aerospace giant is now headquartered.

Meanwhile, without knowing the story playing out behind the scenes, local machinists at the existing North Charleston plant voted to sever ties with the union that walked out on Boeing for eight weeks last year in Washington.

The leader in the local movement, Dennis Murray, said the timing had nothing to do with luring a factory, only that the labor contract with Vought ended when Boeing took over.

“It wasn’t until we were well into this that we heard about a second assembly line,” Murray said. “That was never a factor. We were being totally selfish. We were fighting for ourselves.”

As he put it, “Boeing unknowingly helped us.” But some would argue that the workers unknowingly helped Boeing make its choice.

Crunching numbers

Of all the leaders standing behind Sanford as he signed the incentives legislation Friday morning, none received as many hugs and handshakes as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman, a Florence Republican. At the meeting between Boeing and lawmakers, one company official had singled out Leatherman and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, a Charleston Republican.

Leatherman remembered the Boeing representative saying, “I want to look the two of you in the eyeballs” as they discussed the potential factory.

A few weeks after the meeting at Nexsen Pruet, Leatherman met one-on-one with the Boeing representative to talk further. He and McConnell reconvened at the Renaissance Charleston hotel on Wentworth Street that Saturday morning.

McConnell remembered a few residents stopping by their table near the lounge window to joke about state business taking place. He thought, “Little do they know, this is big state business.”

Without placing an order, the two senators looked at spreadsheets and talked numbers for an incentives package that could lure big business without hurting the state financially.

Days later, Leatherman left on an economic development trip to Japan but remained in e-mail communication with his Boeing contact.

A few days back in the country, he had a meeting at his Senate office Monday night.

Leatherman said there they ironed out an incentives package and then brought in their attorneys for a few more hours. As midnight neared, they had reached an agreement.

Their $450 million proposal was tentatively approved on a unanimous vote Tuesday in the Senate. It got final approval Wednesday and, in unprecedented time, moved to the House, which also gave its unanimous approval.

No one knew Boeing’s final decision until McConnell, Leatherman, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a company official and four attorneys met in McConnell’s office shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Boeing representative took a call from top executives that sent lawmakers rushing to the Senate floor.

McConnell said Boeing representatives sat in the balcony but requested anonymity. As he stepped to the podium, McConnell said he thought, “The members can read our faces. We don’t have to utter a word.”

S.C. lands Boeing

from The State

The landing was delayed, but Boeing has arrived in South Carolina and is bringing along 3,800 jobs to build its new, state-of-the-art jet.

Jilting its longtime Washington state manufacturing base, the Chicago-based airplane maker said Wednesday it will build its second 787 Dreamliner assembly line in North Charleston.

State and local officials, who unsuccessfully sought Boeing’s first 787 assembly line in 2003, expect Boeing to break ground on the plant within a month, as the company moves to get the line up and running by 2011 to complete backordered planes.

Boeing said it chose the North Charleston site because of its existing facilities at the site, some already working on 787 segments.

“Establishing a second 787 assembly line in Charleston will expand our production capability to meet the market demand for the airplane,” Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a news release. “This decision allows us to continue building on the synergies we have established in South Carolina.”

The General Assembly also approved a massive tax incentive package, part of a host of promises made to Boeing since the company first discussed the possibility of locating in South Carolina in August. The package would eliminate income and other taxes for the company for a decade and provide low-interest construction bonds.

Gov. Mark Sanford, who previously opposed similar packages, said Wednesday he would sign the incentives bill.

To qualify for the incentives, Boeing pledged to invest at least $750 million and create 3,800 jobs in the state within seven years. State officials expect those number to grow.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence and one of the chief negotiators, said Boeing’s move could have an initial economic impact of up to $450 million a year, even after incentives are taken into account.

That does not include other economic pluses that will spring from the plant. “The effects on our economy will be mind-boggling,” said Leatherman.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said the need for legislators to return in special session this week – to restore federal jobless benefits that unemployed South Carolinians lost because of an error not corrected earlier this year – gave lawmakers the chance to OK the incentives.

Harrell said he does not think the deal hinged on incentives, though leaders had planned to call lawmakers back into session, if needed, to approve them.

“The timing was incredible,” Harrell said. “We were fortunate their board was meeting at the same week.”

The Seattle Times reported the company could move facilities to South Carolina, but Boeing’s Albaugh said his company remains committed to Washington.

“The Puget Sound region is the headquarters of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Everett will continue to design and produce airplanes, including the 787, and there is tremendous opportunity for our current and future products here,” Albaugh said in his news release.

S.C. officials expect a network of companies will spring up across the state to support Boeing’s operations, just as businesses sprang up around BMW’s Upstate plant, opened in the 1990s. Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor said his agency already is courting some of those firms and will advise existing S.C. businesses on opportunities.

Most credited a team of lawmakers, led by Leatherman, and Taylor for sealing the deal.
But it did not come easily.

Lawmakers said Boeing needed assurances S.C. workers were up to the work, and the state could provide training.

Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, Harrell, Leatherman and aides were in and out of closed-door meetings Wednesday with staffers, attorneys and Boeing representatives. Outside, lawmakers and lobbyists milled about, likening it to waiting on the Vatican’s cardinals to send up a puff of smoke to signal a decision on a pope.

Other lawmakers acknowledged concerns South Carolina could be a pawn in high-stakes negotiations between Boeing and Washington state, the other finalist for the new plant.

“Any two parties in a negotiation could play one party against another party that made an offer,” state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston said while waiting on the announcement. “It’s always a risk you run. … (But) I think they are legitimately interested in us.”

Later, Campsen said the state’s lower taxes and good quality of life were crucial factors in attracting Boeing.

When the Senate approved the incentives earlier Wednesday, “We had no idea Boeing was going to come here,” Leatherman said. “As late as 4:30 (p.m. Wednesday), there was no decision.”

A call from Boeing came about 5 p.m., unleashing cheers in the Senate while House lawmakers donned palmetto tree pins with wings. In the lobby, Sanford waited to personally thank Leatherman and McConnell – both of whom he frequently has criticized in the past.

“In terms of jobs, it’s an incredible shot in the arm,” Sanford said, in a nod to the state’s 11.6 percent jobless rate. “Timing is of the essence.”

Why S.C.?

Some of the reasons Boeing chose S.C. over Washington

Boeing’s workers in North Charleston are nonunion and lower paid than their Washington state counterparts. In September, the Charleston workers voted to oust the Machinists union.

The S.C. General Assembly offered large financial incentives – including $170 million for infrastructure and other tax breaks – to lower Boeing’s costs.

State-funded training at tech colleges diminishes the disadvantage of local workers’ inexperience. Charleston’s Trident Technical College has classes geared specifically to Boeing’s needs.

Charleston has one of the deepest ports on the East Coast and an airport with runways long enough to handle the largest airplanes built.

Boeing also reportedly was unhappy with the business climate in Washington state – unionized workers there who went on costly strikes, and that state’s shortage of college-educated engineers.

S.C. officials worked years to win the 787 plant prize

from The State

While Boeing Co. did not publicly disclose plans for a second 787 assembly line until this year, the effort to lure the investment and jobs to South Carolina can be traced back to June 2003.

It was then that Gov. Mark Sanford’s office and then-Commerce Secretary Bob Faith acknowledged the state had received a “request for proposal” from the airplane manufacturer.

At the time, Boeing was looking at cities all over the country for places to build the first assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner jet, then called the 7E7.

The company sent out a 27-page questionnaire to narrow the list of candidates.
In the tight-lipped world of economic development, Boeing’s eagerness to publicize the early phase of its site selection was highly unorthodox. It was dubbed “an open beauty contest.”

“We’re hot and heavy after it,” Faith said at the time. “We have as good a shot as anybody.”

A site at Charleston International Airport ended up as one of the four finalists.

But it was not to be. In December of that year, Boeing informed crestfallen officials it had elected to build the line at its longtime commercial aircraft manufacturing hub in Everett, Wash. The Evergreen State also put together a $3.2 billion incentive package South Carolina declined to match, officials said at the time.

Also, a corporate shake-up that resulted in the departure of Boeing’s chief financial officer and chief executive officer prompted the board of directors to think more conservatively about the site. A brand new plant in South Carolina would have been a very bold move for the aerospace giant, given its long history in the Seattle area.

It was not long before a consolation prize emerged in form of Dallas-based Vought Aircraft Industries, which needed a new factory to build rear fuselage sections for the 787. That relationship with Boeing steered Vought in late 2004 to build its factory the Charleston airport site, along with another Dreamliner supplier, Global Aeronautica.

Boeing bought out Vought’s local plant this summer in a deal valued at $1 billion. It previously had acquired a 50 percent stake in Global Aeronautica.

And now, it is building the new 787 plant right next door.

Dreamliner timeline


June 15: The 7E7 is named “Dreamliner” after about 500,000 votes are cast in a promotion to name the aircraft. Boeing’s board approves the development of the new jet later that year.


April 26: Boeing launches the Dreamliner program with an order for 50 of the new airplanes from All Nippon Airways.

Dec. 1: Dallas-based Vought Aircraft Industries and Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica form a joint venture to supply Boeing with 787 fuselage components. They will build a $560 million manufacturing complex at Charleston International Airport. Vought will run one plant by itself; the other will be run through a joint venture, Global Aeronautica.


Jan. 28: Boeing gives the 7E7 its official model designation number: 787.


June 8: Vought-Alenia facility opens in North Charleston.

June 30: Boeing and its partner, Fuji Heavy Industries, celebrate the start of major assembly for the first 787. FHI is assembling the center wing section at its new factory in Handa, Japan.


Jan. 16: The 747-400 Dreamlifter delivers the first 787 major assemblies to Global Aeronautica in North Charleston.

May 21: Final assembly begins on the first 787 in Everett, Wash.
July 8: The first 787 rolls out of the factory near Seattle.

Aug. 27: Boeing had set this date for its inaugural test flight, but production problems, including some stemming from North Charleston, force the company to push that back. The first test flight has been rescheduled six times since then, causing deliveries to be delayed. That inspired an unflattering nickname for the plane: the 7-Late-7.


June 11: Boeing says it is acquiring Vought Aircraft Industries’ interest in Global Aeronautica, the North Charleston fuselage sub-assembly facility for the 787. It becomes a 50-50 joint venture between Boeing and Alenia Aeronautica.


July 7: Boeing confirms a $1 billion deal to buy the local operations of Vought Aircraft, one of its key 787 suppliers, and says North Charleston is one site being considered for a second, full-blown 787 assembly line.

Aug. 26: Boeing applies for permits in case it decides to build the second line in North Charleston.

Sept. 10: Members of the International Association of Machinists vote to disband their union at the North Charleston Boeing plant.

Oct. 21: Boeing narrows its choices of sites for its second 787 line to Everett, Wash., and North Charleston. CEO Jim McNerney says the jet will fly by the end of 2009.

Oct. 28: Boeing picks North Charleston for the new line.

Boeing Lands Here

from The Post & Courier

North Charleston won the fiercely fought battle for a Boeing 787 aircraft assembly plant Wednesday, thrusting South Carolina onto the world stage of aircraft manufacturing.

The Boeing Co. will build the new line at its Charleston International Airport property instead of in Everett, Wash., the nation’s aviation nerve center and longtime home of the company’s commercial airplane business.

The decision was announced after state lawmakers wrapped up a two-day special session in which they approved a rich basket of financial incentives for Boeing valued at $450 million by state Sen. Hugh Leatherman, a Florence Republican who heads the Senate Finance Committee.

The aerospace giant would have to create at least 3,800 jobs and invest more than $750 million within seven years to take advantage of the various inducements.

Tim Coyle, vice president of Boeing Charleston, said the company plans to break ground on the 584,000-square-foot expansion near its existing factory within the next few weeks. Work on the first locally made 787 Dreamliner is expected to begin in 2011.

Boeing had said previously that its stormy relationship with the International Association of Machinists was a key factor in its decision to look beyond its highly unionized operation in Washington state. Last year, the union staged a damaging eight-week strike in the Seattle area that compounded the delays that have been dogging the 787 program for two years.

The company began taking a hard look at building the second line for its newest jet in North Charleston in August, meaning that the Dreamliner plant went from a dream to a reality in less than three months, said Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston.

It wasn’t South Carolina’s low unionization rate, the incentive deal or any other single factor that sold Boeing, McConnell and Leatherman said. Coyle agreed, saying Boeing considered the business environment, logistics and the infrastructure in North Charleston and Everett.

“Being able to deliver on schedule, the company decided two sites were better than one,” Coyle said.

Leatherman said he expects the company to exceed its job and capital investment projections, not fall short.

Gov. Mark Sanford said he will sign the incentive legislation.

The deal comes at a time when unemployment is near a record high in South Carolina, with manufacturing particularly hit hard by the recession.

Boeing also could give a big kick to a small but promising industry for South Carolina, with many officials likening the prize to the BMW car plant that opened in the Upstate 15 years ago.

“Just as the similarly monumental BMW investment catalyzed a now extensive automotive presence across South Carolina more than 15 years ago, we believe Boeing landing decisively in North Charleston will spur on an already growing aerospace hub in our state,” Sanford said in a statement.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey called the Boeing deal wonderful.

“It’s the reversal of the shipyard closing,” Summey said, referring to the gradual shutdown of the Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard in the 1990s.

Doug Woodward, director of research and an economics professor at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, said the Boeing expansion will have a huge impact on the state by raising its global profile.

“Boeing is one of those rarefied companies which everyone knows and recognizes as a leader in the field, and to have that in South Carolina is an intangible benefit aside from jobs and income generated,” Woodward said. “It will help sell our state to other companies … and I think it will put Charleston on a lot of people’s lists of the hottest places to be in 2010.”

The launch of the cutting-edge 787 — Boeing’s first new jet in more than a decade — is being closely watched within the aviation world. Unlike most large commercial airplanes, which are made from aluminum, about half of the Dreamliner’s structural components are a mix of epoxies and strong, lightweight composite materials such as graphite and carbon, in order to cut fuel consumption.

Also, the major sections of the plane are being made by suppliers around the world and then flown to the Seattle area on giant cargo jets for final assembly. When the new line opens, some of those parts will be put together off International Boulevard.

Boeing needs a second production line for its long-delayed but fast-selling Dreamliner jet to ensure production gets back on track and to minimize penalties incurred from late deliveries.

After six delays in two years, the first test flight for the lightweight, all-composite jet is expected before the end of 2009. The first deliveries are expected in late 2010.

To date, 55 airlines have placed orders for 840 of the wide-body aircraft totaling $140 billion, “making this the most successful launch of a new commercial airplane in Boeing’s history,” according to the company.

One reason Washington state did not win the line was an impasse between Boeing and the machinists union, which represents thousands of the manufacturer’s production workers in Everett. As the company evaluated where to build a second new production line, it sought a 10-year no-strike guarantee from the union. But those talks collapsed and efforts to revive them Wednesday were too late.

Production workers at Boeing’s local plant recently severed their ties with the union, which likely tilted the 787 line in South Carolina’s favor.

Boeing already makes rear fuselages for the Dreamliner in North Charleston, a factory it acquired over the summer from Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. in a deal valued at $1 billion. Boeing also owns half of a neighboring 787 supplier, Global Aeronautica, that works on mid-fuselage sections.

“Establishing a second 787 assembly line in Charleston will expand our production capability to meet the market demand for the airplane,” said Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This decision allows us to continue building on the synergies we have established in South Carolina with Boeing Charleston and Global Aeronautica.”

The idea of losing the 787 line to South Carolina triggered panic in the Seattle area, where officials are still stinging from Boeing’s decision to move its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001. The concern in the Pacific Northwest now is that the company will be more likely to move more manufacturing jobs beyond Washington as it develops new planes or replaces existing jets.

South Carolina Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, vowed Wednesday that the state will be ready when that time comes.

“There will be potential for other aircraft to be built here.” Limehouse said.