Arconic, which recently launched as a standalone company, signed a multi-year contract with Airbus valued at approximately $1 billion, through which Arconic will supply aluminum sheet and plate for Airbus’ highest volume programs. The company’s most significant gain in the contract is in the A320 family of aircraft, which is Airbus’ highest growth program.
The multi-year agreement starts in January 2017 and makes Arconic sole supplier to Airbus for specific applications, including some wing, fuselage, and structural components. In addition to the company’s proprietary alloys — chosen for their combination of strength, corrosion resistance, density savings, and manufacturability — Airbus planes will feature Arconic plate products on every platform, used in key applications, such as wing ribs, fuselage frames, and other structural parts of the aircraft.
“This large contract is a further important step to expand our leadership position in the aerospace industry,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Arconic. “We are proud that Airbus has chosen us to support their fastest growing, technologically advanced programs. Partnerships like this with industry leaders are core to our strategy and this contract is another proof point of the potential that lies in it. We continue to focus on developing products and technologies that take all of our aerospace customers to new heights.”
Thick Plate Stretcher
This agreement with Airbus is the first that will include material from Arconic’s new state-of-the-art thick plate stretcher in Davenport, Iowa, which will come online in 2017. The “very thick plate stretcher” enhances the performance of thick aluminum and aluminum-lithium plate in wing ribs and fuselage frames material and enables the company to produce the largest high-strength monolithic wing ribs in the industry.
The stretching process reduces stress introduced into the plate as part of the manufacturing process, resulting in a part that is more easily machined and processed. For example, as composite wings get larger, one of the challenges is strength and stiffness, and the aluminum plate from this stretcher will enable Arconic to make wing ribs to address that issue.
The addition will also enable Arconic to serve the existing plate market while also providing airframe builders with the ability to make large wing ribs, fuselage frames, and bulkheads using thick plate.