Is Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. set to unload its North Charleston operations to Boeing Co.?
FlightBlogger, which is known in the industry for unearthing information about Boeing’s business, reported Wednesday that a sale of the 787 fuselage plant is imminent.
The report’s author, Jon Ostrower, cited unidentified multiple sources who are familiar with the deal.
Dallas-based Vought declined to address any speculation about a sale of its business at Charleston International Airport.
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“As matter of public policy, we don’t comment on potential mergers, acquisitions or divestitures,” said spokeswoman Lynne Warne. “That’s just the bottom line.”
Efforts to reach Boeing were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Last year, Boeing bought out Vought’s 50 percent stake in Global Aeronautica LLC, which also makes 787 fuselage components at a plant at Charleston International.
According to news reports, a sale of the rest of Vought’s local operations suggests that Boeing is eyeing North Charleston for a second production line for its new but long-delayed 787 Dreamliner.
Right now, parts for the lightweight jet are made around the world and flown to Everett, Wash., for final assembly.
But the aerospace giant and its Seattle-area unions have a long history of labor disputes, including an eight-week strike last year that caused further delays for the 787 program.
The Charleston region scored quite high a few years back when Boeing was scouring the country for a site to assemble the 787 Dreamliner, which essentially is the world’s first outsourced commercial aircraft.
While the company eventually picked its longtime manufacturing base of Everett, Wash., for the plant, the Lowcountry later landed two consolation prizes from that search process: side-by-side factories at Charleston International Airport that house 787 fuselage suppliers, Vought Aircraft and Global Aeronautica.
The local Vought plant has been getting back on its feet after several setbacks.
In recent months, it has been recalling workers who were sent home when it ceased production in North Charleston last November as a result of a two-month strike at Boeing and a rash of manufacturing glitches that have delayed the 787 launch by about two years.
In May, the North Charleston plant completed and delivered its seventh rear fuselage section for the Boeing 787 — the first that will be used on a commercial flight. The previous six units that the company has made locally were strictly for testing purposes.