Ravell Call, Deseret News
WEST JORDAN — What was once an empty cabinet manufacturing plant is now home to a facility that will build high-tech components for commercial jet aircraft.
Boeing announced Friday the purchase of a new building in Salt Lake County. Employees at the new site, located in West Jordan, will work on fabrication of composite horizontal stabilizer components for the 787-9 Dreamliner.
“The site we’ve chosen is an ideal location to add composite manufacturing capability focused on Boeing’s key business strategies,” said Ross Bogue, vice president and general manager of Boeing Fabrication. “This new facility will provide a real competitive advantage in our supply chain by expanding our internal composite capabilities.”
The new site, located at 10026 Prosperity Road, is about 20 miles from Boeing’s fabrication and assembly site in Salt Lake City. The new facility was purchased from Masco. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
The close proximity of the two facilities will help improve the efficiency from component fabrication to assembly of the 787-9 horizontal stabilizer, said Craig Trewet, director of Boeing Salt Lake. The stabilizers are the horizontal tail fins at the rear of the aircraft, he explained, that allow the plane to remain stable during flight.
The composite component fabrication facility is expected to create approximately 100 new jobs in the near-term with plans for future growth already under way.
“We’ll begin (immediately) by hiring project managers and engineers and will then be filling production positions over the next several quarters,” Trewet said.
Boeing expects to refurbish the 850,000-square-foot building to complement the company’s current operations in Salt Lake County. Design and construction are expected to take two years. When finalized, the company said facility will provide the Utah team with the flexibility to meet the demands of the highly competitive markets that Boeing serves.
Headquartered in Chicago, Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. The company employs more than 170,000 people across the United States and in 70 countries, including 580 employees at several facilities in Salt Lake County. The Utah team’s manufacturing capabilities include machining, composite and sheet metal fabrication and assembly for all commercial airplane models.
The components fabricated at the West Jordan facility will be installed into the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner passenger jet, which is now the subject of a federal safety probe following two incidents earlier this week at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
On Monday, a small fire was detected and extinguished on a parked Japan Airlines Dreamliner. Neither the passengers nor the crew were on board at the time.
The next day, a Tokyo-bound Japan Airlines 787 Dreamliner was forced to cancel takeoff and return to the gate due to a fuel leak. The plane was repaired and eventually allowed to resume its scheduled route.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fire incident, but declined to look into the fuel leak because there was no accident involved.
On Friday, Boeing released a statement saying that the company is confident in the design and performance of the 787.
“It is a safe and efficient airplane,” the statement said. “While the 787's reliability is on par with the best in class, we have experienced in-service issues in recent months and we are never satisfied while there is room for improvement. For that reason we jointly announced with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration the start of a review of the 787's recent issues and critical systems.
"We welcome the opportunity to conduct this joint review. Our standard practice calls on us to apply rigorous and ongoing validation of our tools, processes and systems so that we can always be ensured that our products bring the highest levels of safety and reliability to our customers.”
Boeing said the Utah facility and its operations are unaffected by the safety issue under review in Boston.