Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia, a leading Tier 1 aerospace company, has been assuming a vital role in the global aerospace supply chain. Headquartered in the USA, the company assembles aerostructures for top aircraft such as the Airbus A350, A321XLR, A320, Boeing 787 and 737, among others. Spirit AeroSystems has expanded its global reach by establishing a facility in Malaysia, where it has been assembling aerostructures since 2007.
Being a cornerstone of the aerospace supply chain, Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia ensures that lower-tier suppliers conform to specific standards and manufacture quality parts and components for aerostructures. This ensures the smooth flow of the production process.
The journey has not been easy, as the Covid-19 pandemic brought the Malaysian aerospace industry to a screeching halt. The supply chain, which requires the integration of thousands of suppliers to produce a single product, was severely disrupted. The OEMs’ Airbus and Boeing final assembly lines were at risk as almost all parts and assemblies made in Malaysia are single-sourced. However, with coordinated efforts from various bodies such as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), MIDA, NAICO, MATRADE, and the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Association (MAIA), the government allowed the aerospace sector to operate during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
Although the suppliers faced sudden financial instability due to a shortage of resources, the situation is gradually improving. Production rates are steadily recovering and approaching pre-pandemic levels. The availability of resources and materials will play an essential role in determining the rate of recovery for the aerospace industry. To emerge stronger, Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia is taking steps to diversify its business and pursue efficiency.
This includes participating in more diverse product programmes and striking the right balance when obtaining job packages from the major OEMs. The company’s other emphasis is to improve manufacturing efficiency by enhancing their ‘Continuous Improvement’ projects and offering ‘Smart Manufacturing’ solutions, which combine new technologies into processes, assembly, and quality control to achieve the required output.
Part of improving the processes includes harmonising new and established processes and striking a balance between cost and quality through automation. In order to achieve these goals, Research and Technology (R&T) has become an integral part of the business. To create a more balanced workforce, the business has implemented ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ (DE&I) initiatives. Any new initiatives that are being incorporated into the ongoing operations also take sustainability into account as a key factor to consider.
Building a stronger supply chain ecosystem in Malaysia is an important part of Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia’s agenda to support its growth. This commitment aligns with the Malaysian Government’s Tweltfh Malaysian Plan (12MP) in positioning the aerospace industry as a strategic industry. Spirit AeroSystems strives to emerge stronger post-pandemic and is working hand in hand with the OEMs to meet their demand at a sustainable rate through the execution of the company’s ‘3 Rs Spirit – Realise the rates ramp up, Reduce the cost and Reenergise the workforce’.
Malaysia aims to be the preferred location for developing a worldwide ecosystem center for the aerospace industry, particularly for OEMs and Tier-1 companies such as Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia. There is a projected demand for 40,000 aircrafts over the next 30 years. Thus, Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia, along with other Malaysian aerospace companies, should strive to participate in securing the global industry demand.