Spirit Aero bullish on 737 re-engining

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Boeing 737 structural supplier Spirit AeroSystems anticipates playing a key role in the re-engined version of the narrowbody, and believes it is able to provide the parts and engineering needed by the airframer.

Spirit CEO Jeff Turner, who is "extremely excited about being a very significant part" of Boeing's plans, said: "It's got to have some things done to it that we know how to do."

"It's going to need a pylon for a new engine, it's going to need a new nacelle for a new engine. I'm sure it's going to have some upgrades to parts of the fuselage to handle loads... That is a change of pace down the middle of the strike zone for us, and we anticipate it and we know exactly how to deal with it," he added.

Spirit is the largest single structural supplier on the Next Generation 737 programme, currently responsible for the fabrication of the aircraft's fuselage, centre wing box, floor beams, seat tracks, outboard flaps, leading edge slat, thrust reverser and pylon.

Boeing has not finalised the configuration of its new unnamed derivative 737. It is conducting final evaluations about the fan size of the CFM International Leap-X engines that will power the updated jet, as well as detailing the changes required to integrate the new engine onto the aircraft.

Turner's comments came during the company's second quarter 2011 earnings call. He noted the aerostructures supplier's past success with 737 derivative development programmes, such as the P-8A Poseidon, a submarine hunting aircraft based on the 737-800, calling it "our best development programme in the last five years".

"We and our supply base are very good at doing derivatives, especially on high volume programmes," added Turner, who announced that Spirit had delivered its 3,700 Next Generation 737 to Boeing during the second quarter.

Spirit, formerly Boeing's Wichita, Kansas commercial fabrication facility, was divested in 2005 as part of its development plans for shrinking the 787's industrial footprint.

Boeing said 20 July it planned to re-engine the 737 with an entry into service around the middle of the decade. The announcement came as part of a record deal unveiled by American Airlines parent AMR Corp for up to 460 Boeing and Airbus narrowbody aircraft.