Spirit AeroSystems, the world’s largest aerostructures company

A feature report.

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 15, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Spirit AeroSystems is the world’s largest aerostructures supplier, with main facilities in Wichita (KS). I visited Wichita early March and was given a guided tour of the factories. It was a tour of contrasts.

In production hall two, the Boeing 737 fuselages are riveted together in much the same way as the Boeing B-29 Stratofortress was produced there during World War II. “Rosie the riveter” is replaced with a robot, but the hall still has a busy charm.

Figure 1. Hall two, the main 737 production area. Source: Spirit AeroSystems.

In another hall, the production is silent. The winding of the Boeing Dreamliner’s forward fuselage from rolls of tape is made with a swooshing sound. There are few people around; the machines rule.  Everything is mega large; tape-layers, tools, autoclaves, the lot. Read more

Boeing stock sell-off on United news appears misplaced

Nov. 16, 2016, © Leeham Co.: The market sell off yesterday of Boeing stock appeared on the surface to be a reaction to the news that United Airlines is deferring 61 737-700s and switching these to four larger 737-800s and the balance to either the 737-8 or 737-9.


Figure 1. Boeing stock traded down on news that United Airlines is deferring 65 737s. The price stayed flat through early today. But stock for Spirit Aerosystems, which makes the 737 fuselages, recovered after a short dip (Figure 2). This suggests the Boeing sell-off was for other reasons. Click on image to enlarge.

Boeing’s stock today remains flat-to-down slightly.

An odd thing happened concurrent to Boeing’s stock decline.

After a short dip, stock of Spirit Aerosystems recovered to the level before the UAL news and remained there through the time of this writing. Spirit makes the 737 fuselages. If Boeing’s stock was hit by the United decision, then logic suggests Spirit’s stock should have been, too.

This suggests the Boeing’s sell off has other reasons.

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11th 737 MAX on the assembly line as Boeing gears up for delivery next year

Oct. 11, 2016, © Leeham Co.: The 11th 737-8 MAX is already on the Boeing production line at the factory in Renton (WA).

Southwest Airlines will receive the first 737 MAX next year. Boeing photo.

Southwest Airlines will receive the first 737 MAX next year. Boeing photo.

This one is for Lion Air, the Indonesian Low Cost Carrier that’s ordered 201 of the airplanes.

Previous 737-8s that already are built are also for LCCs Southwest Airlines of the USA.

The initial line up of customers scheduled to receive the MAXes next year is in stark contrast to decades ago when the names on the sides of the airplanes would be American, United, Lufthansa or Japan Air Lines. It’s illustrative to the changing airline industry.

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Fuel prices rising, muted wide-body demand noted by analysts


Oil prices are rising and catching the attention of airline and aerospace analysts. Photo via Google images.

June 22, 2016: Our weekly synopsis of select analyst notes point to increasing fuel costs and weak wide-body demand, among other things, as issues to consider.


  • A350 deliveries at risk due to Zodiac supplier issues. (Buckingham.)
  • US airline stock is under pressure due to rising fuel prices. (Cowen & Co.)
  • Stock for supplier Crane is rising due in part to rising oil prices. (CanaccordGenuity.)
  • Global traffic growing at a slower rate than forecast. Wide-body demand muted. (JP Morgan.)
  • Production rate increases at Boeing may be challenging. (Wells Fargo.)

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Spirit Aerosystems: Higher profits on lower revenue

July 29, 2015: Spirit Aerosystems, whose principal business is a major OEM supplier to Boeing but which also makes fuselage panels for the Airbus A350, reported lower revenues but higher profits for the FY2Q2015.

The press release is here.

Revenues were down because the company sold its Gulfstream wing sector and lower revenues were recognized from the Boeing 787 program.

“Preparing for aircraft rate increases is a key focus for us this year. Near term, we are capitalizing to increase the production rate of the 787 to 12 shipsets per month and the 737 to 47 shipsets per month, as well as the higher production rates on the A320 and A350 programs,” said Larry Lawson, CEO.

Wells Fargo has this initial reaction:

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