Analysis: Boeing’s options for Spirit AeroSystem

Breaking News: Tom Gentile, the CEO of Spirit, is out. He's been replaced by Pat Shanahan, a Spirit Board member, on an interim basis while the search for a permanent CEO is underway. Shanahan is a former Boeing executive and former deputy secretary of the US Department of Defense. This story will be updated.

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By the Leeham News Team

Oct. 2, 2023, © Leeham News: Boeing is in another bad spot with a major contractor and the depth of the problems is quickly becoming apparent.  Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita has been seriously underperforming with inspection escape after inspection escape seriously hampering Boeing's ramp-up of the 737 rate.

Spirit isn't making money on Boeing 737s and 787s.  Boeing is charging Spirit for rework, and a glance through Spirit’s second-quarter earnings report was full of items where they did not have a firm handle on their losses and future exposures attributable to operations with Boeing.

Spirit’s repeated quality and production problems led to speculation that Boeing might buy Spirit, to bring direct control over the Wichita (KS) plant back in-house. Spirit was once “Boeing Wichita.” It was sold on orders of then-Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher. The resulting spin-off, Spirit, remained Boeing’s supplier for all the commercial airplanes then in production. Nose sections were supplied for all but the 737. Spirit produced the entire 737 fuselage and does to this day. Boeing has a workforce in place at Spirit to help sort out the problems.

At the Paris Air Show, Boeing shot down the speculation, saying purchasing Spirit wasn’t going to happen. Since then, more quality control and production issues emerged on the 737. Two-thirds of the 737s in inventory and an unknown of aircraft in service or new production models are affected.

Speculation over the possibility of Boeing purchasing Spirit continued. Doing so would not be simple, even if Boeing was so inclined.

LNA takes a deep dive into the issues.

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