Wichita, Kan. -- Spirit AeroSystems celebrating a milestone Wednesday with the delivery of the 5,000th 737 fuselage to the Boeing Company.
"It's incredible," says Spirit's CEO Larry Lawson referring to how many 737's have been delivered over the decades.
The first 737 was delivered by Boeing in 1968. That was the first generation of the narrow body airliners. More than 3,000 of those have been delivered.
Customer deliveries of the Next Generation 737 models started in 1998. It's delivery of the 5,000th of that model which was celebrated at Spirit Wednesday with Boeing representatives and Governor Sam Brownback on hand.
Lawson explains why the 737's are selling so well. "Airlines are wanting to replace their airplanes with newer airplanes with better efficiencies."
Wichita's commercial aviation sector is doing well whereas the general aviation has yet to gain altitude. Tuesday Bombardier Learjet announced another 200 layoffs there.
Lawson says, "We're very fortunate to be in the commercial end of the market place. It's actually doing quite well. Air travel is up both domestically as well as internationally."
Boeing's 737 production rate was 21 planes a month when Spirit AeroSystems became a standalone company in 2005. Nine years later the rate is 42 planes a month with Boeing to increase it to 47 monthly in 2017.
And as long as the world's airlines keep buying Boeing's 737's, Spirit will be very busy building most of the parts for it keeping roughly 11,000 employed there.