Aerostructures manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems announced on Wednesday that it has received direction from Boeing to temporarily suspend 737 MAX production activities. In a letter dated June 4, Boeing told Spirit to halt any additional work on four 737 MAX shipsets currently in production and avoid starting on sixteen additional shipsets that were scheduled to be delivered in 2020. Spirit, which builds fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components for the MAX, said Boeing cited its “alignment of near-term delivery schedules to its customers’ needs in light of COVID-19’s impact on air travel and airline operations” as the reason for the production halt.
“Based on the information in the letter, subsequent correspondence from Boeing dated June 9, 2020, and Spirit’s discussions with Boeing regarding 2020 737 MAX production, Spirit believes there will be a reduction to Spirit’s previously disclosed 2020 737 MAX production plan of 125 shipsets,” Spirit said in a statement. “Spirit does not yet have definitive information on what the magnitude of the reduction will be but expects it will be more than 20 shipsets.”
As a result of the production suspension, Spirit reports that it will be placing an undisclosed number of Wichita, Kansas-based employees “directly associated with production work and support functions for the 737 MAX program” on a 21-day furlough effective June 15. The company says it will also be making workforce reductions at its Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma, locations as of June 12. The furloughs and workforce reductions are in addition to the 1,450-employee layoff announced by the company in May.
UPDATE: On June 19, Spirit reported receiving a letter from Boeing directing the company to reduce the number of shipsets to be delivered in 2020 from 125 to 72.