Spirit AeroSystems is moving to put a greater emphasis on its parts fabrication and defense businesses.
The Wichita-based aircraft supplier announced this week the appointment of Kevin Matthies as senior vice president of global fabrication. Matthies will work closely with Ron Rabe, Spirit’s senior vice president of fabrication and supply chain, as well as with Alan Young, vice president of Wichita fabrication, in the new role.
The company has also converted a 46,000-square-foot former warehouse on MacArthur Road near Oliver into a center for five-axis machining. A five-axis machine is a computer-numeric-controlled machine capable of milling sophisticated parts out of a single piece of raw material, such as a block of aluminum.
A Spirit spokesman said Thursday machines are being installed at the center – which Spirit calls the 5-Axis Center of Excellence – and it’s already making a few parts.
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The heightened focus on parts fabrication is part of a $30 million plan the company announced at the Paris Air Show in June to bring more of its machining and chemical processing of aircraft parts back in house, and to offer that work to other large suppliers and to aircraft and defense manufacturers.
Spirit CEO Tom Gentile, who is leading the company’s expansion of parts fabrication, said at the company’s annual investor conference two weeks ago in New York that he thinks it could grow to more than $1 billion in new revenue for the company in five years.
“There is a huge market for these detailed parts, delivering them directly to original equipment manufacturers,” Gentile said in a news release this week about Matthies’ appointment. “Fabrication is a good margin business where Spirit has unmatched capability and capacity for both commercial and defense customers.”
The spokesman said a separate, three- and four-axis machining center at its McAlester, Okla., plant is up and running.
A separate but related effort to expand the company’s work as a supplier to defense companies has resulted in the promotion of Krisstie Kondrotis to senior vice president of defense programs and business development.
Gentile wants to expand that segment of supplier work, too. Spirit now is a supplier to Boeing’s KC-46A air refueling tanker and P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft, the Lockheed/Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, Bell Helicopter V-280 Valor tiltrotor and Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber.
“Our costs are lower, we have commercial best practices we can apply and we have design-build capabilities that many of our competitors do not have,” Gentile said in the release.
Gentile thinks the defense business also can grow to more than $1 billion in new revenue at Spirit over the next five years.
Success on both efforts likely could lead to additional jobs at Spirit, which has about 10,800 employees in Wichita.