Boeing Co will ship all four 787 composite-plastic Dreamliners assembled this year in its new South Carolina plant to Air India Ltd, which is claiming $1 billion in compensation for delays in production and delivery.
The first of the jets rolled out yesterday from a 1.24 million-square-foot (115,000-square metre) hangar near Charleston, South Carolina and is expected to start flying in three to four weeks. Air India would take delivery at midyear, according to Jack Jones, Boeing South Carolina vice president.
''I know we're a little late delivering this airplane, but when they get it, they're going to say it was worth it,'' Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing's commercial airplane division, told employees and South Carolina politicians including governor Nikki Haley and US senator Lindsey Graham.
The development ends over three years of delays and Boeing is seeking to speed up production of the twin-aisle jets to 10 a month by the end of 2013. The company has delivered 11 of the aircraft to Japan Airlines Co and All Nippon Airways Co, according to Marc Birtel, a spokesman.
The planes come with a price tag of $193.5 million. The South Carolina facility, built at a cost of $750 million, opened last year, and will build 3.5 planes a month by the end of 2013 or early 2014, Jones told reporters.
The plant is the company's first new commercial-jet factory outside Washington's Puget Sound region, where the company was established. Boeing's decision to build in the state, which bars union membership as an employment condition, led to an accusation from the Machinists union of illegal retaliation for strikes.
The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Boeing, only to withdraw it after Boeing and the union reached a new contract that promised that the upgraded narrow- body 737, the MAX, would be built in the Seattle area.