Aviation

Spirit CEO: 'It's an upbeat show' in Paris

PARIS — Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner carries around a list of his appointments in order to keep track of them during the Paris Air Show. It's filled with back-to-back meetings with customers, suppliers, analysts and industry colleagues.

"It's an upbeat show," Turner said. "Clearly, people are anticipating an expanding market and lots of opportunity to grow."

There's more interest than there was at the last Paris Air Show two years ago, he said.

Show attendees are more positive about the future, Turner said. That theme is echoing around the show, which has drawn 2,100 exhibitors from 50 countries.

There's much more interest on the commercial side of the aerospace business this year, however. On the military side, "there's a little less helium in the balloon," Turner said, as defense budgets have declined.

There's a lot of chatter in the industry about Boeing's announcement it will increase production rates on its 737 jetliner to 42 a month by mid-2014. Spirit builds the 737 fuselage.

There's concern among the supply base and the investment community about the sustainability of those rates and whether it's a bubble or a systemic rise in demand.

"Nobody has the answers; everybody has the questions," Turner said.

But there is correlation between air travel and gross domestic product growth in the world, he said. And if economies continue to grow at the current rate, demand will rise.

Ten years ago, no one thought there would be the need for 30 or 40 planes a month, "but clearly we do," he said. "More production is better."

Raytheon upgrade for McConnell

The Kansas Air National Guard at McConnell Air Force Base is using platforms to monitor aircraft and read the data that have been significantly upgraded, a spokesman for Raytheon said this morning at the company's chalet at the Le Bourget airport.

Raytheon has upgraded the Distributed Common Ground System "node" at McConnell. The DCGS takes signals from space or from an airborne platform, said spokesman Jared Adams.

The Guard stationed in Wichita, at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, processes data from the platforms, including Predator, Global Hawk and U2, Raytheon officials said.

The upgrade doubles the imagery processing capability and provides the Air Force with more capacity and flexibility.

More show news

* Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin arrived at the Paris Air Show Tuesday surrounded by Russian security, while French police assisted. Putin visited the space dedicated to Russian exhibitors. There are 59 Russian firms and agencies and 27 defense companies at the show.

* A train driver strike made getting to the air show more challenging. Drivers on two lines of what Paris calls its "RER" closed down the trains. One of the lines, the "B" line, stops near the Le Bourget airport. That made traffic by rental car, taxi and bus in demand, and taxis were scarce. The train drivers reportedly chose the heavily attended show to close down service to gain higher attention to demands for higher wages.

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