Spirit AeroSystems Inc., [NYSE: SPR] the world’s largest independent supplier of commercial airplane assemblies and components, today formally opened its new 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Kinston, N.C.
Employees at the facility will design and manufacture the composite center fuselage upper and lower shells (section 15) and front wing spar for the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft using state-of-the-art technology and processes. Design work has been underway for approximately two years, and the manufacturing process will begin immediately.
The ceremony was hosted by Spirit President and CEO Jeff Turner, and Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders. Other special guests included Governor Beverly Perdue, along with numerous community partners from around the region and state.
“We are proud of what Spirit has achieved over the last two years and honoured to have been invited to Kinston to witness the opening of this high-tech facility. Here at the Kinston plant an important part of our all new A350 XWB will be manufactured,” said Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO. “Our cooperation with Spirit is an example of how Airbus is growing its partnerships in the United States, both supporting jobs and contributing to the American economy,” he added.
“The Kinston community has been more than welcoming to Spirit,” said Dan Wheeler, vice president/general manager, North Carolina Business Unit. “From the announcement and groundbreaking in 2008, to the occupancy ceremony in April, to the grand opening today, it’s been a challenging yet rewarding experience for everyone involved. We can’t wait to begin producing quality components for Airbus at this site.”
“We’ve been anticipating this day for quite some time,” said Jeff Turner, Spirit president and CEO. “I’m proud of our team for many reasons, including staying on-track with the development of this facility as well as reaching critical milestones for this program. The innovative design/build process we’ve created will undoubtedly bring value to our customer.”
Initial employment is on track to exceed 200 by the end of the year, and will grow to about 700 over the next few years on the Airbus work statement alone. Reaching the total employment goal of 1,000 will require placing additional work at this site.
Spirit won a contract with Airbus in May 2008 to design and produce the A350 XWB’s composite fuselage structure, known as Section 15, which will be approximately 65 feet long, 20 feet wide and weigh nearly 9,000 pounds. The company also will produce the front spar for the aircraft’s wings at the Kinston plant. The spar is a wing structure made of nearly 100 percent composite material, weighs more than 2,000 pounds, and measures approximately 105 feet long.
Fuselage components designed and manufactured in North Carolina will be shipped across the Atlantic, received at Spirit’s new facility in Saint-Nazaire, France, and assembled before being transported to Airbus as “Section 15.” The front spar will be shipped to Spirit’s UK operations in Prestwick, Scotland, for integration into the wing leading edges before being shipped to Airbus for final assembly.
The A350 XWB Family is Airbus’ response to widespread market demand for a series of highly efficient medium-capacity long-range wide-body aircraft. With a range of up to 8,300nm / 15,400km, it is available in three basic passenger versions. Moreover, it has the widest fuselage in its category, offering unprecedented levels of comfort, the lowest operating costs and lowest seat-mile cost of any aircraft in this market segment. Powered by new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent engines, the A350 XWB Family is designed to confront the challenges of high fuel prices, rising passenger expectations, and environmental constraints.
Firm orders for the A350 XWB now stand at 530 from 33 customers worldwide.
Airbus is the largest export customer of US aerospace. With an investment of over $10 billion per year, Airbus spends over 40 percent of its aircraft-related procurement in the U.S and supports over 180,000 jobs.