Hundreds to Lose Jobs at Airplane Parts Maker Due to Boeing Slowdown

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Boeing Co. 737 fuselage sections sit on the assembly floor at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, U.S., on Thursday, March 11, 2010. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Spirit AeroSystems, a major player in aerostructures manufacturing, is facing challenges that will result in the layoff of 400-450 hourly employees in the coming weeks. This decision comes as Spirit adjusts its production of 737 shipsets to meet Boeing’s strict quality standards and cope with decreased demand for 787 aircraft.

The layoffs were communicated internally via a memo on May 16, with Spirit emphasizing its commitment to conducting the layoffs in a compassionate manner. Union representatives from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) are working to support affected workers during this difficult time.

Spirit AeroSystems Assembly Line

Previously, Spirit had been operating with the goal of producing and delivering 737 shipsets at a rate of 42 per month. However, the company’s plans were disrupted by the fallout from a door plug accident on an Alaska Airlines 737-9, leading Boeing to slow down production. Currently, Boeing is delivering 737s at a rate of around 20 per month, significantly lower than expected.

As a result of Boeing’s reduced production rates, Spirit and other suppliers are adjusting their operations accordingly. While most large suppliers are currently producing at a rate of around 31 per month, they are preparing for potential further reductions in orders. Boeing had previously aimed for a production rate of 38 per month, but this target has not been met.

Spirit’s interim CEO, Pat Shanahan, acknowledged the need for near-term adjustments to the supply chain in light of the current production rates. With 737 production at 31 aircraft per month and 787 deliveries falling below expectations, Spirit is making changes to ensure optimal inventory levels and production capabilities.

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