Spirit shuffles leadership ahead of production ramp up

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As it heads toward meeting record production rates across the aerospace industry while realising costly production difficulties, Spirit AeroSystems has appointed David Coleal as president and general manager of its $2 billion fuselage segment as part of leadership changes spread across its business.

Coleal will begin the transition immediately, after previously serving as vice president and general manager of Bombardier's Learjet line in Wichita, Kansas.

Spirit said the changes are being implemented to "better position our team" for the planned production rate increases, improve profitability and recognise the issues that the company has had in the past.

In April, the aerostructures provider recorded a $28 million charge on its composite Sikorsky CH-53K fuselage program, and in May announced that research and development expenses for the larger Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350 XWB pressured its second quarter earnings.

On 20 July Spirit was forced to take a $53 million charge on its Gulfstream G280, formerly named the G250, for which it builds the wings.

As provider of the forward fuselage, nacelles and wing leading edge, Spirit has absorbed the impact of the three and a half years of delays on the 787 programme, including the slower than planned production ramp up.

Spirit, who provides the fuselages for the 737, is currently readying to meet Boeing's 35 per month rate increase in early 2012, followed by 38 in the second quarter of 2013, and 42 by the first half of 2014.

Current chief operating officer for its fuselage unit, Buck Buchanan, will transition to senior vice president of advance projects, while Mike King will assume the role of senior vice president and chief operating officer overseeing Spirit Europe and its Kinston, North Carolina facility.

Further, John Pilla, current senior vice president and general manager of the propulsion business segment, will add responsibility for the aftermarket customer support organisation, while Alex Kummant has assumed the role of senior vice president for Spirit's Oklahoma operations and John Lewelling will now have responsibility as senior vice president corporate strategy.