Airbus has awarded the contract for the design and manufacture of the lower composite centre fuselage frame (fuselage section 15) of its new A350 XWB aircraft to U.S. company Spirit AeroSystems of Wichita, Kansas. The contract is one of many announced recently for the newest member of the Airbus fleet, and is further evidence of Airbus’ commitment to growing its development and manufacturing activities around the world.
Airbus has restructured its industrial set-up to focus on core activities. As a result, the company is optimizing its global foundation by developing and consolidating its robust supply chain. For the A350, around 50 percent of the aero-structures work will be outsourced to risk-sharing partners. Airbus is awarding large work packages to tier-1 suppliers, such as Spirit, in return for a better distribution of future investment, risks and opportunities.
Spirit AeroSystems will produce the composite fuselage structure in a new facility to be built in North Carolina.
Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. is the world’s largest first-tier aerostructures manufacturer. The company builds several important pieces of Boeing aircraft, including the fuselage of the 737, portions of the 787 fuselage, and the cockpit (referred to as “Section 41” by Boeing) of nearly all of its airliners. Spirit’s main competition comes from Vought Aircraft Industries, Goodrich, Alenia, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
Spirit formed when Boeing Commercial Airplanes sold its Wichita division to investment firm Onex. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems retained its military business in Wichita, which lies on neighboring land. The Wichita division was responsible for construction of many important aircraft in Boeing’s history, including the B-29 Superfortress, B-47 Stratojet, and B-52 Stratofortress. Spirit can trace its legacy back even further to Stearman Aircraft, which was founded on the same site. Stearman later became part of Boeing. Spirit also includes North American Aviation’s former Tulsa and McAlester facilities (both in Oklahoma.)