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Spirit says 787 work will stay in Wichita, regardless of runway discussions

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 6, 2014, at 11:06 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at 2:03 p.m.

Boeing is exploring whether to open a Dreamlifter Operations Center at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, but one thing not under consideration is moving 787 work from Spirit AeroSystems.

Spirit builds the forward fuselage and pylons for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner in Wichita.

Boeing’s Dreamlifter, a modified mega 747, flies in to pick up the sections and deliver them to Boeing’s final assembly lines.

The planes now land at McConnell Air Force Base, where they’re loaded.

With Boeing facilities up for sale, Boeing is exploring its options should it not have access to McConnell’s runways with a new owner.

“Spirit performs its 787 fuselage and pylon work in Wichita, KS and there is no change in work location under consideration involving this work,” Spirit spokesman Ken Evans said in a statement. “We will continue delivering to our customer as scheduled.”

News that Boeing is looking at options for transporting the fuselages came from a meeting of the Airport Advisory Board.

On Monday, Wichita Airport Authority director of airports Victor White informed the board about the meetings with Boeing as the airport authority seeks permission to offer airport possibilities to Boeing, including the possibility of tearing down a cargo building to make room for the massive airplanes and the cargo-moving equipment.

The airport also has a greenfield site that would work for Boeing, but that would require new facilities and expensive new roads and infrastructure, White said this week.

Another option is a place on the cargo ramp.

Boeing would then use a special truck to move the 787 sections across town from Spirit to the airport. That would come with its own set of challenges.

Everything is preliminary, White said.

It’s too soon to say when the airport will have its proposals ready to share with Boeing.

It’s Boeing’s decision, not Spirit’s, on how to transfer the sections from Wichita, Spirit officials said. But the work will stay in Wichita.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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