- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The aircraft parts maker created when Boeing Co. spun off its Wichita commercial airplane business in 2005 is looking to expand its work for the military.

Spirit Aerosystems remains one of Wichita’s largest employers and is a major supplier of fuselages and other components for planes built by Boeing and Airbus.

Now, the company is working to capitalize on the size of its manufacturing operation and its expertise with metals and composites through partnerships with contractors that build aircraft for the military, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1lGWhiB ). It’s searching for opportunities to build large metal or composite structures for the defense market.

“We’ve got to do a lot of marketing to make sure the aerospace and defense industry understands Spirit’s capability,” said Phil Anderson, Spirit’s senior vice president of defense and contracts.

Today, only 5 percent of Spirit’s revenue is derived from the defense market. Commercial aerospace will remain its primary business, but the goal is to increase revenue from military work to 10 to 15 percent of revenue over the next five to 10 years, Anderson said.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group, calls it a wise move.

“Diversification is always a good strategy,” he said. It will help Spirit hedge against a downturn in the commercial market.

Spirit has a lot of volume on commercial programs, which gives it an advantage in going after defense work, Aboulafia said.

The company also has a record with the military, having won work in 2010 on major structural cockpit and cabin components of the Sikorsky CH-53K heavy lift helicopter being built for the Marine Corps.

“They’ve had enough success (in defense) to make this encouraging,” Aboulafia said of Spirit’s strategy.

The downside is, “there just aren’t that many programs to go after,” he said.

So far, Spirit has mainly used commercial aircraft platforms to build structures for defense products.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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