Boeing suspends 787 airplane production

Kirsten Korosec

Boeing said Monday it will suspend all 787 operations at its South Carolina factory following a stay-at-home order issued by the governor, effectively putting the company's entire commercial airplane production on hiatus.

The closure will start at the end of the second shift April 8. Boeing announced the production suspension on the same day it confirmed that it would re-fly the Starliner capsule Orbital Flight Test following a partial failure of that mission late last year. The test aims to demonstrate the Starliner’s launch, flight, Space Station docking and landing capabilities prior to flying a version of the mission with actual astronauts on board.

“It is our commitment to focus on the health and safety of our teammates while assessing the spread of the virus across the state, its impact on the reliability of our global supply chain and that ripple effect on the 787 program,” Brad Zaback, vice president and general manager of the 787 Program and BSC site leader said in a statement.

Boeing already stopped operations at its Seattle area facilities. Boeing said Sunday it would extend the suspension of production operations at its Puget Sound area and Moses Lake sites in Washington until further notice. The company said it extended the closure due to the spread of COVID-19 in Washington as well as the reliability of the supply chain.

Boeing didn't provide a date when it will restart production of the 787 airplanes or provide guidance on any of its other operations in the U.S.

Employees at the Boeing South Carolina (BSC) facility who can work remotely will continue to do so, the company said. Those who cannot will receive paid leave for 10 working days of the suspension. Boeing said this is twice as long as its company policy. If the closure persists, employees will have the option to use a combination of paid time off or file for emergency state unemployment benefits.