Boeing Bets on New Life for 747 Jumbos With Triumph Accord

  • 747 jet fuselage panels to be made in Georgia starting in 2018
  • Boeing takes over production work from unit of Triumph Group

Boeing Co. is bringing assembly of its 747 jumbo-jet fuselage panels in-house, betting on continued life for a four-engine model out of favor with airlines.

The work is being moved from a unit of Triumph Group Inc. to a Boeing factory in Macon, Georgia, that until this year built similar components for the discontinued C-17 Globemaster transport airplane, according to a statement on Thursday.

With the transaction, Chicago-based Boeing expands its jetliner manufacturing footprint in the Southeastern U.S. and Triumph exits a business that spurred a $152 million accounting loss in January. The airframe structures for the 747 are the second-largest source of revenue for Triumph.

“While our initial focus is on production of fuselage panels for the 747, the Macon facility provides us a high-quality alternative for structures work
currently outsourced to other suppliers," said Kent Fisher, a Boeing vice
president and general manager of supplier management. “It’s also an attractive option for developing new airplanes.”

Boeing is slowing the production tempo for its iconic, hump-backed 747 to one jet a month as it awaits an air cargo revival that would spur new orders. The jumbo-jet backlog was just 29 planes at the end of August, according to its website.

The aerospace giant currently builds replacement center wing sections for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and CH-47 Chinook helicopter sub-assemblies at the Macon plant. When that work wraps up in mid-2016, Boeing will revamp the site with new tooling and equipment, which will occupy the entire 220,000-square-foot facility.

The fuselage panel assembly is the first of several work packages that Boeing is transferring away from Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Triumph, Boeing said. The planemaker is seeking bidders to handle floor beams, flight surfaces and other 747 structures.

Triumph is in the midst of a strategic review that could include closing or selling of underperforming divisions as it also searches for a new chief executive officer. The initiatives are headed by founder Richard Ill, who returned to the aerospace supplier in April after CEO Jeffry Frisby abruptly resigned.

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