Australia plays an important role in the development of the world's newest passenger aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, says the president of Boeing Australia and South Pacific.
Although Qantas Airways is not due to get its first 787 until the middle of 2013, there is already an Australian presence on every Dreamliner that rolls out of Boeing's Seattle factory in the United States, says Boeing's Ian Thomas, who heads up the aircraft maker's Australian operations.
Boeing Aerostructures Australia's (BAA) manufacturing facility at Fisherman's Bend in Melbourne has the production line for the 787's moveable trailing edge.
The site, which also produces components of Boeing's popular 777 aircraft, is home to Australia's largest yet aerospace project.
Dr Thomas said BAA was chosen to produce the moveable trailing edge because of its world-class expertise with composites, from the design to the manufacturing through to assembly.
"BAA's Fisherman's Bend facility is a Boeing centre of excellence in composite technology," Dr Thomas told an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce young business forum in Sydney on Thursday night in prepared remarks.
"Boeing is extremely proud of the contribution Australia is making to the 787 program.
"It's fair to say the airplane would not fly without the Australian contribution."
Boeing, which celebrates 85 years in Australia next year, has said previously about $200 million was spent to upgrade and expand the Fisherman's Bend site for 787 production, which would generate $4 billion in revenue over the next 20 years.
The components are made and shipped to the US where they - along with parts built in South Korea - Japan and elsewhere, are put together at what Boeing eventually hopes will be a rate of 10 Dreamliners a month.
Some 800 employees work directly on and support the 787 program in Melbourne, Dr Thomas said.
"We will continue to invest and create value here," Dr Thomas said.
"In order to be more competitive in Australia and to be a more agile and effective global enterprise."
The 787 made its international debut in October when launch customer All Nippon Airways operated the aircraft on its first commercial flight from Tokyo Narita to Hong Kong. The Japanese carrier is currently using the airline on domestic routes.
Qantas Airways has ordered 50 Dreamliners, 15 of the launch 787-8 model and 35 of the larger 787-9 version.
Boeing has logged 800-plus orders from 50-odd customers for the aircraft.
The manufacturer says the aircraft offers passengers a quieter, more comfortable flight with cleaner air and lower cabin altitude as well as larger windows and more spacious overhead lockers.
Boeing says the aircraft uses about 20 per cent less fuel compared with similar-size jets and has 30 per cent lower maintenance costs.