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Spirit AeroSystems gears up for FLRAA programme role

Spirit AeroSystems built the fuselage for the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft demonstrator. (Spirit AeroSystems)

Spirit AeroSystems, which is part of the Bell Textron-led industry team that recently won the US Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition, is in talks to finalise its statement of work for the programme, according to a Spirit official.

“We're currently in daily conversations to develop that statement of work,” said Mark Miklos, senior vice-president of Spirit's Defense & Space business. “Hopefully, in the near term, we'll have some exciting news” to share.

Spirit built the fuselage for Bell's V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft demonstrator, which first flew in 2017, and is getting ready for FLRAA's development phase. Its upcoming work will occur in Wichita, Kansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“We have begun establishing the team,” Miklos told Janes on 9 June. “We've been very fortunate to maintain many of the teammates [and] engineers that worked on the demonstrator.”

The US Army selected the V-280 over the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant X helicopter in December 2022. Although the Sikorsky-Boeing team protested the decision, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld the award in April 2023, clearing the way for Bell to proceed with the programme. FLRAA will replace the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter.

Spirit, meanwhile, is preparing to support a production increase for the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter, which Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky will provide to the US Marine Corps. Spirit recently built new tooling for CH-53K fuselage production in Wichita and it is expanding its team on the programme. “We're looking at adding more production assembly cells to scale even further in the future,” Miklos said.

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