Boeing extends production halt as 1000th Dreamliner takes off

Phuong D. Nguyen

Production continues at Boeing’s facility of North Charleston, South Carolina, and on April 3, 2020, the 1000th Dreamliner came out of the final assembly line. In Washington State however, the manufacturer has prolonged the suspension of its activities for an indefinite period after 133 cases of coronavirus COVID-19 of contamination were recorded among its employees.

The 1000th Boeing 787 Dreamliner (of the -10 variant), registration 9V-SCP, is destined to join the Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) fleet. It is the 16th aircraft out of 47 ordered by the Asian carrier. Sporting a unique livery to celebrate the event, the aircraft took off for its maiden flight on April 4, 2020. 

The production facility of North Charleston is so far unaffected by the coronavirus epidemic and maintains its output of 14 aircraft per month. 

The same cannot be said for the Washington State facilities. The assembly lines of the 767, 777 and 787 wide-body aircraft in Everett and the 737 in Renton (already at a halt since January 2020) were suspended since  March 25, 2020, and were supposed to come back into action on April 8, 2020. Instead, the suspension has been extended until further notice.

“The health and safety of our employees, their families and our communities is our shared priority,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal in a statement, adding “we will take this time to continue to listen to our incredible team and assess applicable government direction, the spread of the coronavirus in the community and the reliability of our suppliers to ensure we are ready for a safe and orderly return to operations.” The measures should encourage physical distancing, improved cleaning of work and common areas and a reshuffling of shift times to reduce the flow of employees arriving and departing work.

On April 3, 2020, 133 employees were reported sick, out of which 95 in Washington State. At least one died from coronavirus, according to Komo News.

The 30,000 employees concerned by the extension are now faced with a choice: either apply for more vacation days or declare themselves unemployed. On April 2, 2020, Boeing had already announced that a voluntary departure plan, that included early retirements, would be offered to its workforce in the coming weeks. A record 6.6 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment during the last week of March.

Boeing also halted production at its facilities in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania. The site assembles helicopters and rotorcraft such as the H-47 Chinook, V-22 Osprey and MH-139A Grey Wolf, and also hosts services work and engineering design activities of both its commercial and defense divisions.


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