Fastener makers pin the shortfall on a lack of skilled labor

May 01, 2008 | 12:17 PM |

The dark, gloomy days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, had many wondering if the clouds would ever lift.

Economic turmoil and the sharp downturn in aerospace orders meant parts suppliers to the industry had to reassess their production schedules, with many concluding that cutbacks, or at least some significant realignment of their operations, was unavoidable.

But as fears of more terrorist attacks and economic ruin faded—helped by new measures to make highjacking commercial aircraft far harder to accomplish—new optimism emerged, and within just a few short years, it seemed, everyone was flying again.

For Alcoa Inc., one of the world's largest suppliers of fasteners for the aerospace industry, the rebound was a double-edged sword. Orders were returning, and quickly, but only after it had already adjusted production levels to reflect a depressed aerospace sector. It was difficult to keep up with the requirements coming from Boeing Co., Chicago, and other airplane manufacturers that were busily racking up sales for their latest plane models.....

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