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Dan Catchpole | dcatchpole@heraldnet.com
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012, 11:50 a.m.

The latest on Spirit and implications for Boeing

  • An aerial view shows the damage to Spirit Aerosystems from a tornado in Wichita, Kan., April, 15.

    Jeff Tuttle / Associated Press

    An aerial view shows the damage to Spirit Aerosystems from a tornado in Wichita, Kan., April, 15.

Spirit AeroSystems has people working around the clock to clear debris and repair tornado damage at its Wichita, Kan., site.

The company said Wednesday that it hopes to resume production on Boeing Co. jet parts by Monday.

Last night, a pile of debris caught fire at Spirit, reports The Wichita Eagle. The fire was put out roughly 45 minutes after it was reported. (The Eagle also has this interesting Q&A with Spirit spokeswoman Debbie Gann.)

A Boeing executive had indicated on Tuesday that the company would know how the stall in production at Spirit would affect jet assembly in the Puget Sound region.

On Friday morning, however, a Boeing spokeswoman said the company still did not have details about the impact on aircraft production.

Regardless of the near-term affects, the disruption at Spirit could make Boeing re-think its concentration of jet production sites in the Puget Sound region, according to the analysts at AirInsight. They note that Spirit is the sole supplier of fuselages for the 737 and nose sections for the 747-8, 767, 777 and 787. Likewise, Boeing only has one aircraft assembly site for each model except the 787. And all of those jets are assembled either in Everett or in Renton.

From AirInsight's report:
Boeing's reliance on Puget Sound for all its assembly facilities is a risk, in this case to earthquakes. ...

The Wichita experience brings home clearly the risk that Boeing continues to have with Puget Sound. Boeing's acquisition of 200 more acres at Charleston may be setting the stage to start another assembly line for another 7-Series airplane there--are we're only speculating. But it would make sense.

The longer Wichita is out of business, the sooner Puget Sound will grind to a halt. Boeing needs to duplicate facilities.
Story tags » Boeing

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