Boeing aircraft manufacturing executives oversaw the symbolic placement of the first steel column for what will be their new Charleston facility. This important step as well as news of new contract agreements has strengthened the manufacturing outlook for Boeing and its 787 project. Following a two year economic recession that has particularly hurt the airline and airline manufacturing industries Boeing has much to celebrate.

The first signs of change came when Virgin Blue Airlines ended nine months of negotiations with Boeing on April 1st. The signed final decision agreed for up to 105, 737 aircraft, 50 new aircraft with 55 options. This aircraft order is the largest in Virgin Blue’s ten year operating history and Boeing Aircraft Company’s largest order in the past 18 months.

Virgin Blues record order was chosen to phase out much of their now narrow body fleet. Extra crafts have been ordered to grow new routes as well as support already established ones.

Virgin Blue chief executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “Securing this agreement now places Virgin Blue in a strong position to prepare for steady future growth as domestic and short haul markets recover. It will also ensure a turnover of aircraft to maintain the youngest fleet of modern aircraft which is crucial for maintaining our commitment to on-time performance and the lowest cost base possible.”

With the ground breaking of the new 1.2 million-square-foot (92,903-square-meter) building Boeing will begin to perform final assembly and delivery of the completed 787s. At the moment Boeing Charleston assembles and installs 787 aft fuselage sections and connects midbody sections which are developed by other structural partnerships. The first 787 built in Charleston will be delivered in early 2012.

The Boeings 787 Dreamliner is the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in the world. The aircraft boosts a more efficient, quieter and lower emission operation. At the same time it offers passengers greater comfort providing the ability for fewer stops between cities.

"This new facility will expand our production capability and strengthen the 787 program as we work toward rate," said Marco Cavazzoni, vice president and general manager of 787 Final Assembly and Delivery, Charleston, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "And that reflects our commitment to our customers, our team and our South Carolina community."