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Boeing Co. adding Dreamlifter facility in North Charleston

By Matt Tomsic
Published Feb. 26, 2013

The Boeing Co. is building a “new Dreamlifter Operations Center” on its campus in North Charleston, according to Charleston County land filings.

Choate Construction Co. is managing the project, according to the filing, and construction began Jan. 28.

Boeing is building a Dreamlifter operations center in North Charleston. The Dreamlifter aircraft ferries Dreamliner components to and from Boeing suppliers. (Photo/Boeing)
Boeing is building a Dreamlifter operations center in North Charleston. The Dreamlifter aircraft ferries Dreamliner components to and from Boeing suppliers. (Photo/Boeing)
“Boeing South Carolina is constructing a new Dreamlifter Operations Center at the North Charleston site,” said company spokesman Rob Gross in an email. “Boeing is committed to South Carolina, and this actively demonstrates that we plan to be here for a very long time. As we’ve said before, we’re not just creating jobs in South Carolina; we’re creating careers for generations to come.”

Details about the size and scope of the project weren’t available by Tuesday afternoon, but Boeing is also building a Dreamlifter Operations Center in Washington state on 18 acres at Paine Field, according to Snohomish County Council documents.

The Washington center includes three operational stalls and one expansion stall for the Dreamlifter, a 747-sized aircraft that ferries Dreamliner components to and from Boeing suppliers. It also includes 26,000 square feet of warehouse space, 12,000 square feet of office space and an aviation fueling system.

Boeing estimates the improvements will cost more than $20 million, according to Snohomish County documents.

Gross said the North Charleston operations center is one of several developments at the site, including the expansion of aft-body fabrication and assembly and component paint facilities.

“We are expanding the footprint of our aft-body fabrication and assembly building and our component paint facility,” said Candy Eslinger, a Boeing spokeswoman, when the company announced the expansion in September. “It helps us more efficiently achieve production rates that we’ve committed to.”

The aft-body facility is now 467,000 square feet and Boeing will add 276,000 square feet to the building. There, workers build the last passenger section of the airplane, section 47, and build the section that integrates the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and the aft-pressure bulkhead, section 48.

The paint facility is in a separate building that is 66,000 square feet, and construction crews will expand it by 37,000 square feet. The aerospace giant and its contractor, Walbridge Southeast, estimate the construction of the new paint facility to cost more than $12 million, according to a building permit filed in early January.

The facility paints the primer and white coat for the aft- and mid-bodies that are seen on the flight line before the 787s fly to Texas to be painted for the delivery customer. Eslinger said the paint facility expansion has been part of site plans since Boeing broke ground in North Charleston in 2009.

Previous coverage

Boeing looking to purchase 320 acres of airport land
Boeing picks Greenville firm to manage expansion projects
Boeing S.C. upfitting space for labs
Boeing to improve efficiency at S.C. plant