Beneath the turbulence, there’s tons of thrust

Oct 01, 2008 | 06:11 AM |

Flying is not as much fun as it used to be. From the ever-decreasing size of airlines' complimentary packets of peanuts to the introduction of eye-popping fuel surcharges, much of the sense of excitement and adventure seems to have gone from the whole experience.

After a tough couple of years, the titanium industry could be forgiven for feeling a similar sense of let-down. While airline passengers have a choice of things to blame for their current woes—from security restrictions to rising oil prices—titanium suppliers have a clear scapegoat for sluggish prices and concerns over excess capacity Boeing.

That may seem tough on the giant aircraft manufacturer, which has had plenty of problems of its own in recent years. But the repeated delays to the company's 787 Dreamliner program, as well as pushbacks to the schedule for Airbus' giant A380 airliner, are the reason that titanium pricing remains in the doldrums while inventory levels are steadily rising. A single Dreamliner requires around 250,000 pounds of titanium, so when Boeing cuts its projections for the number of planes it will ship next year by over three-quarters, as it has done, that's a tough blow for suppliers. It's not surprising that titanium prices have fallen sharply since....

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