Spirit AeroSystems will move production of the Boeing 787 composite fixed leading-edge wing component from its Tulsa facility to its plant in Malaysia, as it responds to rate increases on other programs, the company said Monday.
About 70 Tulsa employees on the program will move to other Boeing and Gulfstream programs, Spirit spokesman Ken Evans said.
Both sites continue to grow, Evans said.
As a result of the move, work to expand the Malaysian facility will begin immediately, with operations scheduled to begin in 2012. The first Malaysian delivery of a wing component is expected in late 2012, Evans said.
Spirit’s Malaysian facility opened in January 2009.
The additional work will create about 120 jobs at Spirit’s facility in Subang and 400 jobs with Malaysian suppliers.
The move makes sense logistically, Evans said. The wing components are delivered to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan. The move means lower overhead and shipping costs, he said.
“At this time, there are no plans to move other programs, but that is something we’re evaluating, particularly in this rate environment,” Evans said.
Boeing has announced unprecedented increases for 737 production. The company plans to boost rates to 35 planes a month in January, with additional increases to 38 a month in the second quarter of 2013 and to 42 a month in the first half of 2014. That means additional work for Spirit, which builds the 737 fuselage in Wichita.
With the expansion, Spirit’s Subang facility will be able to increase the range and complexity of aircraft parts to be designed and assembled there, Francis Hiew, Spirit Malaysia managing director, told the Malaysia Star.
“This will rope in not only new local vendors to provide manufacturing services for us, but also bring in new foreign direct investment to support our assembly activities here,” Hiew said.
The site performs work on spoilers, flap track fairings and ailerons.
Because it focuses on assembly and design work, the site must outsource most of the machining, composites and tooling work, Hiew said in the Star report.
Beginning in 2014, Spirit Malaysia plans to move work to local Malaysian suppliers, once assembly work is at full steam.