LOS ANGELES Commercial airframe subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems Inc. has reached into the military aircraft sector for a new president and chief executive officer.
Larry A. Lawson, executive vice president of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics business segment at Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., has been named to head Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit, one of the worlds largest aerostructures builders.
Lawson will join Spirit on April 6, the day after he leaves Lockheed. He will replace current chief executive Jeff Turner, who retires April 5.
Turner, who has been head of Spirit since it started in 2005, largely from former Boeing Co. operations, will remain on Spirits board. Boeing accounts for some 85 percent of Spirits business, which includes fuselages, propulsion sections, wings and propulsion products. Spirit is generally considered the largest subcontractor to Chicago-based Boeing.
Lawson has been in the aerospace industry for more than 30 years, starting as an engineer on the F-15 Eagle fighter program at the former McDonnell Douglas Corp., now part of Boeing. At Lockheed, he was responsible for the F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter program.
He also has overseen the now-ended Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor aircraft production program, the F-16 fighter, and the C-130 and C-5 military transport programs.
New York-based investment firm Cowen & Co. said this week in a note to investors that despite Lawsons lack of experience on commercial aircraft programs, he nevertheless has "extensive aircraft manufacturing experience and is well regarded for the manufacturing discipline he brought to the F-35 and for his ability as an effective negotiator."