Boeing’s second 787 Dreamliner assembly line is evacuating in advance of potential damage coming as a result of Hurricane Dorian. Boeing announced a suspension of operations on Monday as workers would have returned from a Labor Day long-weekend.
However, the decision was not solely on Boeing’s part. In fact, a mandatory evacuation order is also coming from the State of South Carolina. This has forced the immediate work stoppage and evacuation of the plant.
According to Airways Magazine, Boeing made an emergency statement to its employees and said the following:
“Boeing South Carolina will suspend operations beginning tonight, Monday, Sept. 2. Teammates from all shifts are NOT to return to work following the Labor Day holiday…This decision follows an announcement by the governor of South Carolina to evacuate some residents in the local area. Teammates are encouraged to follow the government recommendations for this situation. Your safety is our top priority.”
South Carolina and Georgia have announced mandatory evacuation orders for some 1,000,000 in advance of slow-moving Cat. 5 Hurricane Dorian.
— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) September 2, 2019
The significance of the shut down
Airways Mag also reports that Boeing has approximately 8,000 employees at its Charleston, South Carolina facilities. It is there that 14 787 Dreamliners roll off the assembly line each month.
In fact, Boeing has already evacuated four nearly complete 787-10 Dreamliners to its other facilities. The destinations include Boeing bases in Fort Worth, Belleville, Moses Lake, and Everett.
According to FlightRadar24, all four aircraft had flight numbers using Boeing’s designation – BOE. However, three of the four aircraft display as different airlines. Flight BOE120 was an Etihad Airways aircraft, BOE310 belongs (or will belong) to Air Europa, and BOE14 will go to Singapore Airlines.
According to Boeing, the plant remained open until midnight in order to accommodate those who might need to retrieve personal items. It also issued this notice to its employees:
“Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Dorian, all employees planning on traveling to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are asked to defer non-essential travel to a later date. Employees who require travel to this area for critical activities are asked to talk to their managers to see if alternate arrangements can be made,”
Second time in a row
With Hurricane Dorian inching towards Florida and already causing immense damage in the Caribbean and The Bahamas, it is a reminder that this is not a one-off event.
Boeing also had to shut down and evacuate its South Carolina plant in 2018 because of Hurricane Florence. In that case, at least eight Dreamliner aircraft from Charleston were flown out. In fact, five of the 787s were flying in a line. Of those that were rescued, three B787-9 were aircraft destined for Chinese carriers. In addition, one B787-10 aircraft each was bound for Etihad Airlines and United Airlines.
Delays and backlog
According to Boeing’s website, the manufacturer already has a backlog of 564 787 orders. This could mean delays in delivery – the length of delay dependent on the severity of the storm and the damage caused. However, Boeing has two 787 assembly lines – the other one being in Everett, Washington. This prevents a complete stoppage from taking place.