Spirit AeroSystems
A section of the A350 fuselage, manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems.

Airbus Discussing Future with Spirit AeroSystems

May 2, 2024
The CEO of the European jet builder acknowledged that his company is working to secure its ongoing supply of fuselage sections and wings following the anticipated purchase of Spirit by rival Boeing.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury confirmed that discussions are scheduled now with Spirit AeroSystems to determine how the aircraft builder can secure its continuing supply of aerostructures after the expected takeover of Spirit by rival Boeing Co. According to a published interview with Faury, the negotiations have not advanced significantly and commenting on their progress is premature.

Boeing is expected to acquire Spirit AeroSystems as a part of its effort to improve the performance of its manufacturing supply chain. This follows multiple problems with Spirit’s supply of aerostructures for the 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner programs during recent years.

Spirit manufactures fuselage sections for both of those Boeing aircraft programs, but it also supplies structural sections for the Airbus A350 and A220 programs.

Bloomberg News cited sources close to Airbus that Spirit AeroSystems CEO Pat Shanahan will attend the upcoming meeting, possibly with the chief executive of the Airbus Commercial Aircraft business, Christian Scherer.

During a financial briefing Faury reconfirmed that Airbus would oppose an arrangement in which it had to source aerostructures from a business owned by Boeing, and that his organization is working with Spirit to secure its supply of A350 fuselage sections and A220 wings. According to Bloomberg, a “variety of options” are in consideration to address that situation, and that Airbus has personnel on location at Spirit plants in the Northern Ireland and North Carolina, where those aerostructures are produced to support the supplier’s manufacturing efforts.

The status of Boeing’s effort to acquire Spirit is unknown, but it has advanced $425 million to the supplier in an effort to stabilize the operation, which has suffered with the slowdown in Boeing’s 737 MAX production rate during Q1, in the fallout from the January 5 Alaska Airlines in-flight structural failure.

Last fall Boeing invested $100 million in Spirit AeroSystems in a move meant to stabilize the business, and former Boeing executive Shanahan was installed as the new CEO of the Wichita-based company.

Recently, a Spirit source said the company has devised a plan that it claims will enable it to fulfill Boeing’s requirements for volume and quality, both of which are critical to returning 737 MAX production to the nominal 38 jets/month rate.

"We've developed a plan that we believe affords us a high degree of confidence that we will meet Boeing's demand rate and quality expectations," a Spirit Aero spokesperson told Reuters.

Latest from News

Aleksei Gorodenkov | Dreamstime
Dmitry Kalinovsky | Dreamstime
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics | Chris Hanoch
Carlosphotos | Dreamstime
Lockheed Martin Photo by Angel DelCueto