Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems open talks to remerge, Airbus A220 factory fate

Tier 1 supplier of Airbus and Boeing Spirit AeroSystems will suspend production
Ian Dewar Photography /

Boeing and Spirt AeroSystems have both confirmed that talks have begun to potentially remerge the companies.  

Boeing believes that reintegrating the companies would “strengthen aviation safety”, however both firms admitted that talks were very much in the early stages and that there was no guarantee an agreement could be reached. 

In 2005, Boeing decided to outsource some of its manufacturing operations under the belief this would reduce costs and increase production efficiency.  

Spirit AeroSystems was formed through the sale of Boeing’s Wichita division with responsibility for crafting the fuselage of the 737 and 787 passing to the new entity.  

However, the development has raised concerns over Spirit AeroSystems’ Airbus A220 factory in Belfast, as it would seem unlikely Boeing would want to continue wing production for its competitor. 

One possibility being put forward is Airbus purchasing the facility, according to Reuters.  

“We have been working closely with Spirit AeroSystems and its leadership to strengthen the quality of the commercial airplanes that we build together. We confirm that our collaboration has resulted in preliminary discussions about making Spirit AeroSystems a part of Boeing again,” Boeing said in a statement on March 1, 2024. 

The planemaker added: “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.” 

Spirit AeroSystems also announced the development on March 1, 2024, confirming discussions had opened over a “possible acquisition”. 

“No assurances can be given that a definitive agreement will be entered into, that any transaction will be consummated, or the timing, terms or conditions of any such transaction,” Spirit AeroSystems said. 

The news comes as Boeing still looks to find ways to rebuild trust and improve safety after an Alaska Airlines plug door separated from a 737 MAX 9 shortly after takeoff on January 5, 2024. 

Since the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing customers have demanded the planemaker takes accountability and finds ways to rectify shortfalls in its safety procedures. 

Further pressure is building on Boeing following the Alaska Airlines plug door blowout, after the US Justice Department (DoJ) confirmed it is looking into the incident and whether it violated its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement with Boeing following the 737 MAX fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.   

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said on February 28, 2024, that “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements”. 

“Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations,” Whitaker said. 

Whitaker told Boeing that he expects the company to provide him with a comprehensive action plan within 90 days that will incorporate the forthcoming results of the FAA production-line audit and the latest findings from the expert review panel report, which was required by the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act of 2020.     

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