COVID-19: Boeing to reopen additional plants, activates airlift for PPE mission from China

Partners with FIRST Robotics founder Dean Kamen to bring personal protective equipment to healthcare professionals in the US; Deploying 737-700 from corporate fleet to transport 540,000 face masks to New Hampshire; additional airlift transport missions with the Boeing Dreamlifter and ecoDemonstrator are planned.

Puget Sound

Troubled American plane maker Boeing has announced it will reopen additional production facilities in addition to the Puget Sound area facilities in Washington state it announced earlier that it would open and said it had also completed its first COVID-19 transport mission, using a 737-700 aircraft from its corporate fleet to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) from China to the United States.

A screenshot of the Johns Hopkins University virus tracking site take on 19 April. To access the live site, click on the image. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Boeing will reopen its military helicopter production facility outside Philadelphia on Monday (19 April), the company announced Friday (17 April). On 16 April, Boeing announced it would reopen factories in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, where it carries out final assembly of the 737 MAX and 777 commercial jetliners, as well as the KC-46 and P-8 military aircraft. And the company announced Thursday (16 April) that it will also reopen a smaller military aircraft repair facility in Heath, Ohio.

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A Boeing-owned aircraft loads 540,000 medical-grade masks in China destined for New Hampshire. (PHOTO: Boeing)

Meanwhile, the company announced it was working with FIRST Robotics founder Dean Kamen and had transported 540,000 medical-grade face masks that will be delivered to healthcare professionals battling COVID-19 in New Hampshire. Kamen, who has a longstanding relationship with Boeing through FIRST Robotics, is also a founder of DEKA Research and Development Corporation. He worked with DEKA to secure the face masks from manufacturers in China and turned to Boeing to facilitate their transport. DEKA is the importer of record for the delivery and provided the masks to New Hampshire for distribution to healthcare professionals in the state.

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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. (PHOTO: Governor’s office)

“Another life-saving delivery of PPE has arrived in New Hampshire,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “Thanks to Dean Kamen for facilitating this deal, and to Boeing for donating the cost of this mission transport. The state will deliver these masks to the greatest areas of need across New Hampshire so those on the frontline have the necessary resources to fight COVID-19.”

Boeing said additional airlift transport missions with the Boeing Dreamlifter and ecoDemonstrator are planned in the future. Boeing is coordinating closely with US government officials on how to best assist areas with the greatest need.

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Boeing President and CEO David Calhoun. (PHOTO: Boeing)

“I want to personally thank Governor Sununu, the entire New Hampshire congressional delegation and Dean Kamen for their leadership in helping secure and distribute this much-needed personal protective equipment for our frontline healthcare workers and first responders here in New Hampshire,” said Dave Calhoun, Boeing president and CEO. “We are honoured to have conducted today’s airlift mission and we look forward to providing continued support in the fight against this pandemic.”


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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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