June 16, 2024

Boeing 737 Max fuselages at a Spirit AeroSystems factory

Boeing 737 Max fuselages at a Spirit AeroSystems factory
Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

Layoffs are coming for the fuselage supplier behind the Boeing 737 Max mess. KSN, the local affiliate for NBC in Wichita, Kansas, reports that Spirit Aerosystems will be laying off as many as 450 workers in the coming weeks, according to an internal memo seen by the outlet.

“We must slow down our operations to align our workforce with the needs of our customers,” the station reports the memo saying. A representative for the company declined to confirm the number of affected employees to KSN, but did say that “the recent slowdown in the delivery rate on commercial programs compels a reduction to our workforce in Wichita.”

Spirit AeroSystems’ biggest customer is Boeing, which generates 64% of its overall revenue. It is the supplier that built the fuselage for the 737 Max 9 plane that suffered a door plug blowout during an Alaska Airlines flight this January.

An initial investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board said that Spirit and Boeing crews who worked to fix an issue on the plane’s fuselage, after it was transported to a Boeing factory in Washington state from a Spirit facility in Wichita, appear to have forgotten to reinstall several crucial bolts.

Boeing has been in negotiations to acquire Spirit, which was a part of the company until it was spun out in 2005. Outgoing Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has said that the purchase would be crucial to cut down on the practice of “traveled work,” in which fuselages that are incomplete or have defects were allowed to move forward in the production process in the name of keeping up production speed. Since the Alaska Airlines incident, Boeing has significantly slowed things down.

In its most recent annual report, Spirit says that it had 20,655 employees as of December 31. Of those, 14,780 were working in the United States. Of those, 12,590 were working in Wichita.

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