The story of how Boeing builds the 787 Dreamliner

Ambitious. No single word better describes the outset of the 787 Dreamliner programme as Boeing sought to turf manufacturing out to contractors worldwide, while creating a second production line thousands of miles from home

For Boeing, the 787 Dreamliner was unlike any other airliner programme it had undertaken before. A second production line would be established in South Carolina, thousands of miles away from the company’s Washington state manufacturing base, while major sub-assemblies would be transported across the globe on a fleet of highly modified Boeing 747-400 Dreamlifters.

As if negating ever-rising labour costs – driven by increasing healthcare and pension obligations – and creating its most ambitious risk-sharing venture to date weren’t enough, Boeing was also trying to cram as much technology into the most advanced airframe ever built. Oh, and it would be constructed from carbon composites, something never previously attempted on an airliner programme.

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