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Boeing to Cease Production of C-17 Cargo Jet


Last line in southern CA will close in 2015 after 22 additional aircraft are built. Foreign orders not enough to replace end of US Defense orders.

Boeing reported in a press release dated 18 September that it intends to cease production of the C-17 transport aircraft in 2015. "Ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, quoted in the press release.

According to the press release, Boeing will continue after-delivery support of the worldwide C-17 fleet as part of the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) Performance-Based Logistics agreement. The GISP "virtual fleet" arrangement provides the highest airlift mission-capable rate at one of the lowest costs per flying hour.

The AP (9/19, Jablon) reported on the story, noting that the four-engine C-17 made its first flight in 1991, and military deliveries began about two years later. The plane is used to airlift tanks, supplies and troops as well as performing medical evacuations.” It quickly became a war and disaster workhorse, prized for its ability to operate from basic airstrips and cover intercontinental distances with a full load without refueling. With a payload of 160,000 pounds, it is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment.

Design work on the plane began at the million-plus square-foot Long Beach facility in 1981, when it was a McDonnell Douglas facility. Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s. Boeing has so far delivered 257 planes worldwide, at a cost of about $311 million each when research, development and construction costs are included. The Long Beach plant has about 2000 employees.”

Bloomberg News (9/19, Chen) adds that as a consequence of the end of the C-17’s production, Boeing will begin laying off employees in early 2014.  Bloomberg reported that “Boeing hasn’t decided what it will do with the plant, although it doesn’t intend to move manufacturing for other commercial or defense aircraft into the building, Nan Bouchard, a Boeing vice president and C-17 program manager, told reporters during a conference call” on September 18.

According to Los Angeles Times (9/19, Hennigan), the closure marks the end of the last major airplane production line left in Southern California. The article reported that for “the last several years, the company has been pushing foreign sales as a way to help prolong work there. But because most foreign orders were relatively small -- a handful of planes at a time -- they haven't sustained the plant for more than a few months.”

Other reporting included the Wall Street Journal (9/19, Ostrower, Subscription Publication)

Published Date : 10/7/2013

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