Spirit Aerosystems Reaches Dreamliner Production Milestone

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A party at Spirit Aerosystems marked the completion of its 100th 787 fuselage section. Wednesday’s milestone should be the first of many as Spirit prepares to double Dreamliner production.

It’s a good sign for area workers, with the company saying it’s been hiring and will continue adding more jobs.

The director of Spirit Aerosystems’ 787 program, M.L. Anderson, says a few years ago, some critics didn’t think this milestone would be reached this quickly.

Boeing’s problems with being three and a half years behind on delivering the 787 are well documented. But none of the blame’s ever been laid at the feet of Spirit’s workforce.

"And we look forward to delivering several hundred more of these," Anderson said.

Why is something like this important in the grand scheme of things? Well, this program will be employing thousands of Wichitans for decades to come.

"Generations of Wichitans and Kansans will be working on this program for years to come," Anderson said.

The airlines of the world want these planes faster than Boeing can deliver them. That’s because the 787 is about 20 percent more fuel efficient than comparably-sized Jetliners.

This year, Spirit increased its production rate from three and a half Dreamliners per month to five per month. And Boeing now wants Spirit to double that rate by the end of 2013.

"We have been hiring outside," Anderson said.

And he says Spirit will be hiring more. The company isn’t saying how many more, because it depends on the production rates of other airplanes they build.

"There are a lot of orders that Boeing has in the backlog,” Anderson said. “So yes, we should all be comfortable that this is a long-term program that we are really proud to be a part of."

He says Spirit has been investing in facilities and employee training in order to meet the increasing production demands for the 787 Dreamliner.

Spirit currently employs about 11,000 in its Wichita facilities. Boeing has orders for 805 Dreamliners. 40 Dreamliners are now in service with eight airline customers. The section Spirit delivered today will flown to Charleston, S.C., for final assembly.

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