Spirit AeroSystems to add 150 to 200 jobs

Wesley Brown, Staff Writer

Kinston Free Press

July 20, 2011

Spirit AeroSystems will expand its workforce in Kinston by 150 to 200 employees over the next five years as company executives announced Tuesday plans to introduce a new product line at the N.C. Global TransPark.

The independent supplier of commercial airplane manufacturers — one of the largest in the world — will establish production for the Gulfstream G250 wing at the state industrial site, according to Gov. Bev Perdue.

Perdue said in a telephone interview with The Free Press Tuesday that officials decided against making the announcement part of a large celebration in Kinston since Spirit AeroSystems remained in “critical” negotiations with Gulfstream to finalize a contract for manufacturing rights to its G250 wing.

“Their timeline appears to be very short and Gulfstream, with the economy rebounding, is eager to begin production of its next generation of plane,” Perdue said of Spirit AeroSystems.

The governor, in Charlotte for another statewide economic announcement, said she expected the two companies to complete a deal by the end of Wednesday and to put a plan into motion to begin production of the G250 wing.

A report from The Wichita Eagle stated Spirit AeroSystems transferred its production of the Gulfstream G250 wing from its plant in Tulsa, Okla., to its Kinston facility. Phil Anderson, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Spirit told the Eagle executives made the switch to create “the necessary capacity” in its Tulsa, Okla. facility “for multiple growth programs.”

The total cost of the new aviation work package was not immediately available. However, Perdue said the deal will include incentives from the N.C. Department of Transportation for road access and Lenoir Community College for the engineering and manufacturing training needed to make the Gulfstream G250 wing.

Preliminary reports suggest the move will record a pre-tax charge of $53 million, or 26 cents per share, in the second quarter for Spirit.

Perdue said the addition of the Gulfstream G250 wing to Spirit AeroSystem’s Kinston operations gives the company a new platform to market itself — one she expects will attract a “cluster” of businesses, big and small, to the city, bringing with it a more specialized workforce for the state to hang its hat on.

“It’s terrific news for the TransPark, Kinston and for all of North Carolina because what we are seeing is that Spirit — so capable and talented a company — is able to get contracts with other aerospace companies,” Perdue said, calling the announcement a part of Spirit’s overall expansion and existing commitment to create jobs in North Carolina.

Spirit already produces a major composite fuselage and leading edge wing spars for the Airbus A350 commercial aircraft at the Global TransPark. Executives expect the new work package will add metallic structures, as well as a general aviation component to Spirit AeroSystems’ 500,000 square-foot plant it opened in Kinston last year.

“This is the next step in our evolution in North Carolina and further diversifies the work being done at the Kinston site,” said Dan Wheeler, GTP vice president and general manager. “We’ve enjoyed tremendous support from our North Carolina partners and look forward to executing on our two aircraft programs.”

Perdue said for the first time in “maybe six years,” she feels “really great” about the GTP, as work by leaders statewide has at least helped offset part of the nearly $40 million in debt the TransPark owes to the state’s Escheats Fund for a loan it acquired in the 1990s to cover construction costs.

“The fact that you have Spirit equipped and ready for manufacturing two lines of production at the park is really fabulous,” Perdue said. “We need to build out the cluster and I hope this helps.”

Wesley Brown can be reached at 252-559-1075 or wbrown@freedomenc.com.

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