March 19, 2013 / 12:55 PM / in 5 years

Spirit AeroSystems names departing Lockheed exec as CEO

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) - Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc on Tuesday named Larry Lawson as its new chief executive officer and president, a day after Lockheed said it was replacing Lawson as the head of its aeronautics division.

Lawson, 55, is due to start his new job at Spirit on April 6, a day after he leaves Lockheed.

He will succeed Jeff Turner, who has been CEO of Spirit since its formation in 2005. Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit makes fuselages, propulsion systems and other parts for commercial aircraft. Turner announced last year that he planned to retire.

Spirit board Chairman Bob Johnson said the company was looking for a CEO with a strong record of operating and financial performance on mature and new aircraft programs, who could help the company grow in the expanding commercial market.

“Larry met all of the board’s criteria,” Johnson said in a statement. “He is a well-known and highly respected leader ... and has outstanding experience managing multiple premier aircraft platforms efficiently and profitably across a large-scale business.”

Lawson, whose abrupt departure from Lockheed came amid continuing tensions between the company and the U.S. Defense Department over the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, said he aimed to help Spirit expand in its core business areas while working to drive down cost and expand new development programs.

Lawson began his career as a flight control engineer working on the F-15 Eagle at McDonnell Douglas, which later became part of Boeing Co. He also oversaw the F-16 and F-22 fighter programs at Lockheed before heading the F-35 program for two years. He had been in his job as executive vice president of Lockheed’s aeronautics business for just under a year.

Spirit AeroSystems is one of the world’s largest designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial aircraft outside the original equipment manufacturers.

Lockheed announced Monday that F-35 general manager Orlando Carvalho would replace Lawson as head of the aeronautics business.

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