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Alcoa signs long-term agreement with Airbus for titanium and aluminum parts; modernized 50,000-ton press

17 December 2013

Alcoa signed a multi-year supply agreement with Airbus valued at approximately $110 million for value-add titanium and aluminum aerospace forgings. Alcoa will produce the parts using its recently modernized 50,000-ton press in Cleveland, Ohio. (The 3-year modernization project—entailing the disassembly, reengineering and modernization of the press—required a $100-million investment.)

This press—a 92-foot structure with five stories above and seven below the ground—uses advanced controls to meet stringent aerospace specifications, and is capable of producing the world’s largest and most complex titanium, nickel, steel and aluminum forgings, according to Alcoa.

Alcoa’s segmented die technology, advanced alloys, and proprietary signature stress relief technologies allow Alcoa to make parts that are larger, thicker and more complex than those that can be produced by competitors on similar-sized forging presses, the comp[any says. Alcoa Cleveland Works manufactures the large aluminum structural die forgings for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program. The forgings include bulkheads—the primary structural support for the wing and engine that can weigh from 1,800 to 6,000 pounds and range from 10 to 23 feet in length—and wing box parts which serve as an important component of the skeletal structure to the wing.

Alcoa will supply titanium parts, including forgings used to connect the wing structure to the engine, for the A320neo, Airbus’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle jet. The agreement also includes several large aluminum forgings for the A330 and A380—including the A380 inner rear wing spar, which is the largest aerospace forging in the world—that will be made using Alcoa’s proprietary 7085 alloy intended specifically for large structural aircraft components. Most of these forgings support the wing structure where strength-to-weight ratio is critical to efficient flight performance.

In 2012, Alcoa signed multi-year supply agreements with Airbus for Alcoa’s leading aerospace aluminum sheet, plate and hard alloy extruded products utilizing Alcoa’s current, advanced-generation and aluminum lithium .Terms were not disclosed, but the agreements were valued at approximately $1.4 billion.

In addition to sheet, plate, forgings and extrusions, Alcoa specialty fasteners and structural castings are also used on Airbus aircraft.

Alcoa’s aerospace business generated $3.8 billion in 2012 revenues. The company holds leading market positions in aerospace forgings, extrusions, jet engine airfoils and fastening systems produced by its downstream business, Engineered Products and Solutions (EPS), and aerospace sheet and plate produced by its midstream business, Global Rolled Products (GRP). In the first three quarters of 2013, EPS and GRP—Alcoa’s value-add businesses—accounted for 57% of Alcoa’s total revenues and 79% of segment after-tax operating income (ATOI).

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