Japan's disasters may hurt U.S. aircraft production

U.S. planemakers say the devastation from Japan's earthquake and tsunami hasn't affected supplies of aircraft parts and components — at least not yet.

"We just don't know," Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said of whether the industry will feel the hurt. "Historically, Japanese industry bounces back pretty fast. The problem is, of course, it's a global supply chain, and you're only as strong as your weakest link."

Another aviation analyst, Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, said it is inevitable that aviation manufacturers will face consequences from the problems in Japan.

"Of course there's going to be an impact because the United States has gradually offshored many industrial parts that once were produced domestically," Thompson said.

So far, most of Wichita's are unaffected.

Cessna Aircraft has had no disruptions in the supply chain, "but it is still too early to tell for sure," said spokesman Bob Stangarone. "As you go further down the supply chain, we may experience difficulty."

Suppliers are making provisions and doing "workarounds," Stangarone said, "so that they continue to provide the parts... we need."

One of Cessna's component suppliers, for example, operates three plants in Japan. Two were damaged and won't be back online until fall, Stangarone said.

"But they are finding capacity elsewhere for 60 percent of that production, and they are still working on temporary solutions for the other 40 percent," he said.

Spirit AeroSystems is monitoring the situation closely, said spokesman Ken Evans.

It has employees in Japan, some of whom are stationed at suppliers' operations. Their safety and well-being is the primary concern, Evans said.

"We have experienced no delays or other impact to our business," Evans said. "Our supply base in Japan continues to operate with minimal or no disruption, and we will continue to monitor."

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