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Boeing Outsources Dreamliner Painting

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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The Boeing Company has chosen a Texas aircraft painting company to provide the final painting and livery on the long-delayed 787 Dreamliners to be assembled at Boeing’s new South Carolina final assembly and delivery facility.

Boeing 787

Dave Sizer / Wikimedia Commons

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first flight in
2009, but production has been plagued by delays.

Leading Edge Aviation Services Inc. will perform the work at its Amarillo, TX, facility, where it specializes in commercial and military aircraft painting. Santa Ana, CA-based Leading Edge is currently configuring and upgrading its wide-body hangar to accommodate the Boeing project. The facility employs more than 200 workers and serves as the dedicated paint hub for Southwest, UPS, United and other airlines.

2,500-Mile Painting Trip

"Leading Edge is a well-respected company when it comes to painting airplanes," said David Palmer, director of Boeing's Delivery Center in North Charleston, SC. "The company shares our values of quality, safety and excellence, and we look forward to our relationship with them." 

Boeing had been searching for a painting subcontractor “soon after we broke ground on our facility, knowing the experience and capacity to paint large commercial airplanes didn't currently exist geographically close by," said Marco Cavazzoni, vice president and general manager of the delivery center.

 "Leading Edge brought immediate capability and capacity and is located within a manageable flying distance from our new facility." 

Dreamliners that complete final assembly at the plant will fly 1,250 miles to Amarillo for painting, then fly back to South Carolina for final delivery.

‘Many Years of Effort’

"This paint process is the only difference customers will experience in 787 Dreamliner deliveries from South Carolina,” said Cavazzoni.  “Airplanes built and delivered from both Everett, WA, and North Charleston, SC, will be identical, as both sites use common quality management and production systems and meet the same U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requirements."

Leading Edge CEO Mike Manclark said it was “truly an honor to be part of the Boeing team on this ground-breaking project. Since day one, Leading Edge’s goal was to set up and establish quality systems and facilities to eventually become an integral part and team member with Boeing.”

“This contract culminates many years of effort and thousands of quality aircraft deliveries to finally make this goal a reality.”

Manclark called Boeing “one of the most highly respected companies on the planet.”

Production Delays

Boeing declined to release any details of the painting contract or the coating system to be used.

Production at the new Boeing final assembly plant is set to begin mid-2011, with first delivery of a South Carolina-built Dreamliner scheduled for 2012, but that may change.

The Dreamliner project is now three years behind schedule (All Nippon Airways placed the first order for 50 of the widebodies in 2004). The 787, formerly known as the 7E7 (“E” for “efficiency”), will eventually replace the Boeing 767 and the 747-400.

   

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