Airplane maker Boeing will announce the location of a second assembly line for its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner in the next couple of weeks, CEO Jim McNerney said Wednesday.
McNerney said Boeing has narrowed the choices to North Charleston, and Everett, Wash., where its commercial aircraft business is based.
The news came as the world's second-largest commercial plane maker announced it lost $1.6 billion in the third quarter, hurt by growing costs from the 787 production and another plane program that forced the airplane maker to slash its profit forecast.
The long-delayed 787 - a next-generation aircraft built for fuel efficiency with lightweight carbon composite parts - is currently assembled in Everett, the Seattle suburb.
Boeing is considering a second factory to get the production rate back on track and to minimize late deliveries of the new jet.
The investment would create hundreds of high-paying manufacturing jobs.
Boeing has not said publicly how many jobs the new plant would create, but Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has pegged the number at about 900.
Labor relations are considered key in Boeing's decision on where to locate a second assembly line.
Boeing has indicated it wants a no-strike agreement with the International Association of Machinists union, which waged an eight-week strike last year that shut down the company's commercial airplane facilities.
McNerney said Wednesday that Boeing and its union workers have "had trouble figuring it out between themselves over the last few contract discussions, and I've got to figure out a way to reduce that risk to the company."
"Diversifying our labor pool and labor relationship has some benefits," he said.
Earlier this year, Boeing bought the plant at Charleston International Airport that makes fuselage sections of the 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing's Charleston labor force recently voted to decertify the 2007 election that made them part of the International Association of Machinists.
Boeing had said previously it would pick a site for the second 787 production line by the end of the year, and that North Charleston was among the potential locations. Among the states seen as competitors had been Washington, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas and California.
Boeing has struggled to launch its new 787 passenger plane and a revamped version of its classic 747 jumbo jet. Production delays, parts shortages and last-minute fixes have cost the company billions in write-downs along with additional design and manufacturing expenses.
While sales edged up 9 percent during the third quarter, profits took a big hit because Boeing booked charges of more than $3.6 billion for its two plane programs.
They also led the Chicago-based company to cut its 2009 profit forecast to $1.35 to $1.55 per share from $4.70 to $5 per share.