The newest and longest Dreamliner, Boeing's forthcoming 787-10, will be assembled exclusively in South Carolina, the aviation giant said Wednesday.
Although final assembly on the the model -- which will be 18 feet longer than the 787-9 -- isn't expected to begin until 2017, design is already underway in Everett, Wash., Boeing's main commercial airplane headquarters.
Boeing said in a release that its decision to assemble the 787-10 exclusively in South Carolina was based on the fact that the jet's length makes it impossible to transport from North Charleston, S.C., where systems integration work is done, to Everett for final assembly. Currently, Boeing operates three production lines -- two in Everett and one in North Charleston. Ten Dreamliners come off the production lines each month, and the company plans to boost that rate to 12 a month by 2016, and 14 a month by the end of the decade.
While the Dreamliner has been a big seller for Boeing, based on its use of lighter, more fuel-efficient composite materials, the 787 program has also been beset by a wide range of delays and problems.
Earlier this month, Boeing showed off the newest version of the Dreamliner, the longer 787-9, at the Farnborough Air Show in England, hoping to drum up more customers. Already, Boeing has customer orders for 409 of the 787-9 jets, but it only delivered its first earlier this month to Air New Zealand.
As for the original 787-8, which first flew in 2009, Boeing has reported that to date, 60 customers have made orders for more than 1,000 of the planes, for a total value of more than $240 billion. Despite the many problems the program has dealt with, including having the entire fleet grounded by the US Federal Aviation Administration in January 2013, the Dreamliner is "the most successful twin-aisle launch of a new commercial airplane in Boeing's history."
According to Boeing, both the 787-8 and 787-9 have a range of 7,850 nautical miles. The 787-8 carries up to 242 passengers, while the 787-9 holds up to 280 passengers. The 787-10 will have a range of 7,020 nautical miles and hold up to 323 passengers.
By comparison, Airbus' direct competitor to the 787 line, the A350, can fly maximums of between 276 and 369 passengers a total of between 7,750 and 8,250 nautical miles, depending on the model. Airbus has received a total of 742 orders for A350s, though it has yet to deliver the plane to customers. The A350 made its first flight a year ago.