Flight tests of the first built at the manufacturer’s Charleston, S.C., facility began on May 23, completing the airframer’s goal of establishing dual assembly lines for the new widebody.
The aircraft is the 46th 787 to be built and the firstjet to be completed away from either the Puget Sound, Wash., area, or the heritage McDonnell Douglas manufacturing sites in Southern California. Following flight tests and subsequent completion in Amarillo, Texas, the aircraft is due to be delivered to by the end of June.
The first flight of the Charleston-built aircraft, ZA237, was commanded by 787 chief test pilot Randy Neville, who co-piloted the first flight of the 787 with Mike Carriker in December 2009. Most of the testing took place over the Atlantic off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
The next three 787s from the Charleston line also will go to Air India, concluding all deliveries Boeing intends to make from the South Carolina site in 2012. The delivery rate is expected to grow to 3.5 per month by early 2014, as part of a gradual ramp-up of production from South Carolina and Washington, which should boost the combined rate to more than 10 787s a month by the end of 2013.
Boeing, which rolled out the-1B-powered Air India aircraft on April 27, announced its selection of the Charleston site in October 2009. The decision to set up a second production line was prompted by a 58-day strike staged by Boeing’s unit of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in 2008 in Seattle. The new assembly bay for the 787 line in Building 88-30 at Charleston was constructed alongside existing 787 fuselage facilities originally built by Vought Aircraft Industries and Alenia Aeronautica, and later bought by Boeing.