Boeing Supplier, Spirit Aerosystems, to Fire 400 Employees, Memo Says

Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems is laying off hundreds of employees in Wichita, Kansas. An internal memo revealed that the company is struggling with high debt levels and slower production at its primary customer, Boeing. Spokesperson Joe Buccino said the “recent slowdown in the delivery rate on commercial programs” means the Wichita workforce must be cut, adding that the implementation will be as “compassionate” as possible. Around 400 staff members are expected to lose their jobs.

Spirit is a major supplier to the embattled Boeing aircraft manufacturer, which faces serious questions about its safety processes. When the door blew off a plane after take-off from Portland, Oregon, in January, the manufacturer came under intense scrutiny, and regulators forced the grounding of all 737 Max models. Boeing’s share price also fell in the aftermath.

Boeing has been the subject of a Congressional investigation, and in April, witnesses and whistleblowers testified that the company cut corners on safety. Engineer Sam Salehpour said the organization routinely prioritized production speed over safety and claimed that his superiors silenced him when he voiced concerns. Mr. Salehpour stated that staff members often jumped on fuselage parts to make them fit together, describing this as the “Tarzan effect.”

Santiago Paredes, a former staff member at AeroSystems in Wichita, claims his ex-employer engaged in similar behaviors. Mr. Paredes’ role was to ensure aircraft parts were safe before they were shipped to Boeing, but he insisted this was not always the case and that he was muted for highlighting problems. “Working at Spirit, I almost grew a fear of flying,” he said, adding that he often found hundreds of flaws and faults that were not corrected before shipping.

Spirit and Boeing have denied their former employees’ claims. A Spirit spokesperson said the firm “strongly disagrees” with Parades’ assessment. Nevertheless, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg assured passengers that both companies will remain under intense scrutiny to ensure they meet the required safety standards.