A ceremonial opening of Boeing’s 787 final assembly building in North Charleston, S.C., on June 10 heralded the expectation that manufacturing will begin there on July 12.

The 642,720-sq.-ft. facility will begin operations building the standard-sized 787-8 using a U-shaped assembly process that is likely to be more efficient than Boeing’s main line in Everett, Wash. The North Charleston factory is wider than Everett’s and allows easier access for suppliers.

Initial planning calls for production rates to reach three aircraft per month by the end of 2013. The first airplane is expected to roll out late this year. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board is to begin hearings June 14 that are likely to last into August on a complaint by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers which contends the plant is being built in retaliation to a 2008 machinists’ strike that shut down Boeing’s Seattle-area factories for two months.