Boeing confirmed on Wednesday that it is hiring at the facility but
declined to provide details.
The company was responding to a Wall Street Journal report that said
the aircraft maker is adding about 300 contract mechanics and
inspectors at its North Charleston facility.
The Journal said the contractors were needed in part to avoid
production issues with 787 body sections made at the factory that
could slow overall output of the high-tech plane.
Boeing said the hiring was part of its effort to increase
production, a move that has cheered investors and helped send the
company's stock price sharply higher.
"The 787 production system is ramping up to historically high rates
for a wide-body program and introducing a second family member, the
787-9," Boeing said in a statement.
"It's not unexpected that this would cause a temporary surge in
Boeing assembles the carbon-fiber composite 787 at lines in North
Charleston, South Carolina, and Everett, Washington. The South
Carolina facility, which is not unionized, also makes body sections
for the lines. Workers in Everett, who are represented, have
previously raised quality concerns as the production rate rose.
Boeing said its 787 program has been operating at a rate of 10 jets
per month, double the production rate in 2013.
The company said it has "a solid plan" to continue improving its
"While we have some challenges to address, we see no risk to the
program's ability to meet its commitments," Boeing said.
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Two people familiar with the increased hiring said production
increase had prompted some quality-control concerns. One of these
people, who is familiar with a recently hired inspector, said Boeing
was using multiple staffing agencies to find workers and needs
people "badly and quickly."
Boeing is "trying to produce the planes more quickly so there's more
errors," said the person, who asked not to be named out of concern
that speaking publicly could affect employment.
Boeing is working through has a record order book of more than 5,000
planes, including 916 787s.
Both sources said some workers are moving from defense operations to
work on the 787.
The South Carolina plant is due to reach a production rate of three
jets a month by mid-year, Boeing has said.
(Reporting by Harriet McLeod in North
Charleston and Alwyn Scott in Seattle)
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