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Boeing takes full control of Charleston plant

Boeing announced Tuesday it has taken full control of the 787 Dreamliner midfuselage plant in North Charleston, by buying the 50 percent stake of its Italian supplier Alenia.

The company did not disclose what it paid to acquire the rest of the plant, known as Global Aeronautica.

Boeing now owns the entire Charleston 787 assembly complex, and the move cements its manufacturing base in North Charleston. The company already has two major aircraft-assembly buildings there - the Global Aeronautica building and one where the 787 rear fuselage is built.

Boeing also announced in October that it plans to add a third major building in North Charleston for a new final-assembly line for the 787.

That means Boeing in Charleston will make two-thirds of the fuselage of every Dreamliner and eventually host a final-assembly line and delivery center. By 2016, it will employ about 6,400 people.

"Ultimately, we believe integration of the site will increase productivity for the 787 program and allow us to maintain our long-term competitiveness," Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement Tuesday.

Boeing's gradual takeover of the Charleston site was forced upon it after the company lost control of its 787 supply chain, a major cause of the almost 2 1/2 years of delay in the jet program.

With no jets going to customers, the delays led to a cash crunch for the supplier partners Alenia and Vought, who weren't getting enough revenue to continue work.

Boeing sent managers and experienced workers for extended periods to troubleshoot production in Charleston.

That strategic commitment of resources, and the partners' unwillingness to invest more money without a quicker return, led Boeing to acquire the various parts of the complex in piecemeal fashion.

In 2008, Boeing acquired the first half-share of Global Aeronautica from Alenia's original partner, Vought of Texas.

This past July, Boeing bought from Vought the 787 rear-fuselage assembly plant adjacent to the Global Aeronautica building, at a cost of about $1 billion.

And in October, Boeing announced it will build, on land adjacent to the existing buildings, its second 787 final-assembly line and delivery center, as well as other buildings, including a fin and rudder shop.

To qualify for $170 million in financial incentives from the state of South Carolina, that project alone requires a Boeing investment of at least $750 million over seven years.

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