A350 supplier cites design changes for production delays

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Spirit AeroSystems says "late-breaking" design changes from Airbus are the reason why it was labeled a supply chain risk a month ago by the Toulouse-based airframer for the A350XWB programme.

"We've got travelled work in their factory," says Spirit AeroSystems chief executive Jeff Turner during a 12 February analyst call. "They've got folks working with us to help us understand their processes and frankly help us move some late-breaking changes, not driven by Spirit, through their factory."

Spirit AeroSystems has delivered six Section 15 centre fuselage barrels for the A350 from a new factory established in Kinston, North Carolina. Airbus also receives the front wing spar from Spirit AeroSystems, but concerns have focused on the centre fuselage barrel.

Last month, Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier singled out Spirit AeroSystems as a risk area among the A350's suppliers. Bregier also noted the Wichita-based supplier was among several suppliers, including Premium Aerotech, experiencing problems.

"I think it's fair to say there's always frustration with whomever it is that you're waiting on to get something done," Turner says.

Turner described Airbus as a "dynamic" company that is pushing hard on the A350's development schedule.

Turner first acknowledged falling behind on the A350 centre fuselage in November.

At that time, Turner said he was confident that Spirit AeroSystems was financially sound on its position in the A350 programme, but has "a lot of extra work" to do to catch up to Airbus's demands.