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A Boeing 787 Dreamliner experienced an engine problem during pre-flight runway testing this weekend, shedding debris and causing a grass fire that shut down the Charleston (S.C.) International Airport for more than an hour.  The aircraft involved in the incident was produced at Boeing’s North Charleston, S.C. manufacturing facility, although the company moved quickly to downplay safety concerns and vowed that production would not be halted.

“While the investigation is in its early stages, we are unaware of any operational issue that would present concerns about the continued safe operation of in-service 787s powered by GE engines,” a company spokesman said. “However, should the investigation determine a need to act, Boeing has the processes in place to take action and will do so appropriately.”

It’s been more than three months since Boeing rolled out its first South Carolina-made aircraft, although as of this writing none of the planes manufactured in the Palmetto State have been delivered to Boeing customers (although a pair of S.C.-built planes are expected to be delivered to Air India at some point this year).

The Dreamliner project has been plagued by numerous problems.  The lightweight, fuel efficient plane was supposed to be ready for delivery in May of 2008, but a myriad of supply chain and design issues forced multiple delays – costing Boeing billions of dollars.  In fact those problems are ongoing.

Just last week, a quintet of 787s owned by All Nippon Airways were grounded due to engine problems – although two of those planes are now back in the air.

In addition to the corporate welfare it receives at the federal level, Boeing is said to have received a record-breaking $900 million incentives package from the State of South Carolina to build its North Charleston facility.