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Spirit sticking to Dreamliner schedule

Keywords: Tags  aerospace, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Jeff Turner, 787 Dreamliner, Boeing, Airbus, A350, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Another major participant in the Boeing Co. supply chain says it is sticking to its 787 Dreamliner production schedule despite the aircraft’s current problems.

Jeff Turner, president and chief executive officer of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc., told securities analysts this week that Spirit hasn’t modified its 2013 delivery outlook on the 787 despite battery problems that have temporarily grounded the roughly 50 aircraft already delivered.

The first-tier airframe subcontractor intends to deliver 60 to 65 shipsets for the 787 in 2013, up from 43 in 2011, Turner told analysts, also noting that Spirit began shipments last year for what is expected to be the Dreamliner’s main rival, Airbus SAS’ new A350 XWB.

"Our current guidance assumes that the 787 and the A350 XWB will continue on the schedules issued by our customers, and we continue to execute our cost-reduction plans," he was quoted as saying in a conference transcript.

Spirit joins other major supply chain participants such as Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) and RTI International Metals Inc., both based in Pittsburgh, which have said that Boeing hasn’t told them to rein in their work on the Dreamliner (, Jan. 23 and Feb. 11).

Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit is considered the largest airframe subcontractor on Boeing’s commercial aircraft programs, with the majority of its revenue coming from the Chicago-based aerospace giant. Spirit also supplies shipsets for Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based Airbus, as well as for various business and regional jets. Its products include fuselage sections, wings and propulsion products such as pylon and nacelle packages.

The airframe subcontractor reported fourth-quarter net income of $60.7 million on $1.4 billion in revenue, up from $60.4 million in net income on $1.2 billion in revenue in the same year-ago period. However, full-year net income fell to $34.8 million on revenue of $5.4 billion vs. net income of $192.4 million on revenue of $4.9 billion in 2011.

Production at the company’s Wichita operations was temporarily suspended in last April due to tornado damage (, April 19).

Spirit delivered 1,240 shipsets last year compared with 1,089 in 2011. Deliveries in 2012 included 595 shipsets for Boeing, 561 to Airbus and 84 for various business and regional jet programs.

Spirit’s backlog at the end of last year was $35 billion, up about 4 percent from a year earlier. Its backlog as of the end of the third quarter had been $34 billion.

Meanwhile, Turner, who has headed Spirit since it was founded in 2005 and who intends to retire this year, said the company continues to seek a new chief executive officer.

"We’re looking at both internal and external candidates thoroughly," he told analysts.

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