Wichita, Kan. -- Spirit AeroSystems CEO Larry Lawson -- here in Wichita ten months -- now publicly speaking for the first time locally about the direction of the company and the struggles it faces.
Lawson spoke to a full house at The Wichita Aero Club with about 200 attending.
For the most part the demands Lawson walked into at Spirit last April have kept him indoors at Spirit's facilities reviewing all company programs and working to get costs under control.
Lawson expressed his upbeat feeling about the commercial aviation industry saying it's growing about ten percent annually.
Spirit is involved in building large structures for Airbus and Boeing programs as well as newer program work for business aviation.
Larry Lawson says Spirit has hired in recent months to keep up with increasing production rates from Boeing and Airbus.
Lawson says, "We're actually hiring hourly people to come to our factory. I think we hired 500 people this summer just to get to a 42 rate."
That 42 rate reference is to building 42 737'S a month for Boeing.
He says Spirit's not just hiring production workers.
"Again it's another area. We're hiring people. We're hiring engineers."
There are also cost challenges, he says.
"This is always the conflict that we have.. we're trying to work our costs and work our overhead at the same time."
Those cost issues evidenced in Spirit's year end and 4th quarter financial report out earlier this month. Spirit posted a $587 million loss due in large part to costs on the 787 program.