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Boeing to bring composite work in-house

Keywords: Tags  Boeing, aerospace, 787, Dreamliner, Ross Bogue, Alenia, Masco, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Boeing Co. will take on additional composite manufacturing duties when it makes the next version of its 787 Dreamliner, and it is adding to its Utah operations to do so.

The Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer has purchased an 850,000-square-foot facility in West Jordan, Utah, to produce components for the horizontal stabilizer of the 787-9 Dreamliner, which is due to have its initial test flight later this year with the first delivery scheduled for early 2014. The 787-9 is about 15 percent longer than the current 787-8.

Boeing purchased the facility from Masco Corp., a Taylor, Mich.-based manufacturer of home improvement and building products that isn’t a supplier to the 787. Boeing said it will take about two years to design and construct the new plant.

The components for the current 787-8 horizontal stabilizer are supplied to Boeing by subcontractor Alenia Aermacchi SpA of Venegono Superiore, Italy, said a spokeswoman for Boeing’s Seattle-based subsidiary, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. She said that both Alenia and Boeing will manufacture the components for the 787-9.

Reports during the initial phase of 787-8 production had indicated problems with the stabilizer components supplied by Alenia. The Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment on those reports or whether they played a role in Boeing taking on a larger production role for the 787-9.

Boeing noted that the recently purchased facility is near the company’s fabrication and assembly site in Salt Lake City. The new facility "will provide a real competitive advantage in our supply chain by expanding our internal composite capabilities," said Ross R. Bogue, vice president and general manager of the company’s Boeing Fabrication unit. The company will hire about 100 new employees at the site.

Among the work currently undertaken by the company’s existing Salt Lake City-area facility are assembly of the 787-9 horizontal stabilizer and composite assembly of the 787-8 vertical fin.

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