Spirit AeroSystems celebrated a milestone on Friday: 10,000 deliveries in the Boeing 737 program, which the company says is a production first for a commercial airline.
Workers at the Spirit plant in southeast Wichita build about 70 percent of the 737 structure, including the entire fuselage. The company delivered its 10,000th shipment to Boeing earlier this year, and Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile says demand is continuing to grow.
“It took us 52 years to get to the first 10,000," he told a crowd of business leaders, lawmakers and Spirit employees. "Today we’re producing 52 per month. Next year we advance to 57 per month. And if we keep at that pace, it will only take us 15 years to make the next 10,000.”
At the celebration was John Fuller, who has worked for Spirit for 59 years. He was there when the 737 program began in 1966.
“When we first started on the 737, people didn’t think it would ever sell, because we were 2 years behind the competition," he says. "The first three years were slow, but now it’s really rolling. It’s great.”
The first 737 went into service in 1968. About a quarter of the world's single-aisle jet fleet is made up of 737s.
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