Spirit AeroSystems expands Tulsa and Wichita operations

Lauren Eldershaw
By Lauren Eldershaw December 20, 2018 12:37

Spirit AeroSystems expands Tulsa and Wichita operations

Spirit AeroSystems plans to expand operations at its Tulsa, Okla., site by hiring about 250 employees and investing more than $80 million in capital projects to support fuselage manufacturing and assembly work.

The multi-year expansion project, which begins in 2019, was achieved in partnership with the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). The state of Oklahoma and City of Tulsa offered incentives to help secure the work statement in Tulsa with support from the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“This expansion would not have been possible without the strong collaboration among Spirit, the UAW and Oklahoma state and local officials,” said Spirit AeroSystems President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Gentile. “The Spirit team in Tulsa has made great strides improving the site’s efficiency and demonstrating the capability to bring in additional work. The Tulsa site has a critical role in helping Spirit meet rising airplane production rates and pursue growth opportunities.”

The new Tulsa jobs will support increases in 737 production rates by freeing up required space in Spirit’s Wichita factory site. The work expansion in Tulsa is part of a larger effort to maximize operational efficiencies across Spirit’s sites. As the production rates increase, the Wichita site will continue to hire additional workers to meet the increasing demand.

The first phase of the Tulsa work expansion will begin with infrastructure set-up and employee training beginning in 2019. Full rate production is expected to be complete by the end of 2021. Additional investment in equipment, tooling and facilities upgrades will take place through 2022.

Additionally, Spirit AeroSystems has announced a second significant expansion with plans to hire an additional 1,400 employees to support commercial and defense programs over the next few years at Wichita. This growth adds to the 1,000 new jobs announced in 2017.

“The aerospace market is growing as never before, and for us that means we continue to need even more highly skilled people,” said Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile. “Spirit’s ongoing collaboration with regional technical training institutions, along with public investments in those programs, help ensure we can fill our talent pipeline. We appreciate Gov. Jeff Colyer’s leadership supporting this latest expansion, and we look forward to working with state and local leaders to build on the success of these programs.”

The majority of open positions will continue to be in the hourly ranks, including skilled sheet-metal assembly mechanics, composite mechanics and CNC machine operators.

Spirit’s 2017 announcement also included a pledge to increase capital investment. The most visible example is the company’s new 150,000 square-foot Global Digital Logistics Center, which is on schedule to open in early 2019 on the Wichita campus.

The center, which broke ground in May, will utilize a smart storage and retrieval system with racks nearly 70 feet tall. Spirit will consolidate 500,000 square feet in three logistics buildings into the new logistics center by taking advantage of vertical space. The repurposed space allows for expansion of fabrication and manufacturing support areas. This will include the creation of a Raw Material Cutting Center of Excellence that will help Spirit and regional suppliers remain globally competitive.

Lauren Eldershaw
By Lauren Eldershaw December 20, 2018 12:37