Boeing is bringing more parts production back inside the company.
The aerospace manufacturer announced Monday it will build parts now produced overseas or by outside contractors for its existing 777 airliner into a Boeing factory in St. Louis once the company begins building the newest version of the wide-bodied twin jet, the 777X.
The company in recent years has retreated from a strategy of outsourcing large portions of the design and construction of major airliner parts and sections to aerospace firms outside Boeing.
That change in strategy for the 777X came after Boeing’s experiment with large-scale outsourcing on its 787-8 Dreamliner created issues that contributed significantly to the three-year delay in that composite-bodied airliner’s debut.
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After union members agreed to a long-term contract last year, Boeing agreed to assemble the 777X in its Everett wide-body aircraft factory and to build the plane’s new composite wings at a new plant at that same site. On the 787, the composite wings were built in Japan.
The company said it will expand its composites construction capability in St. Louis to handle the new work. The commercial aviation parts production is expected to employ several hundred Boeing workers in St. Louis and in Australia where Boeing plans to build other parts for the updated airliner.
Boeing’s St. Louis workforce faces a potential loss of jobs if the company can’t generate new business for the two fighter aircraft assembled there, the FA-18 Super Hornet and the F-15. Both are aging designs.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for Boeing St. Louis and we look forward to being a partner on the 777X program," said Bob Ciesla, Boeing Military Aircraft Cross-Enterprise Design/Build vice president. "Placing this work in St. Louis optimizes resources, skills and technology in St. Louis and creates high technology jobs in the region."
The 777X will include new wings and engines, an updated interior and cockpit and a fuselage stretched to carry more passengers. The aircraft is expected to enter commercial service in 2020.