Titanium industry banks on aerospace, shipments stay high

Sep 30, 2011 | 07:00 PM | Frank Haflich

Tags  Titanium Shipments, Titanium, Boeing, Aerospace, Frank Haflich

Recession? What recession? Titanium industry players are keeping their eyes on the prize as they look to the ramp-up of the Boeing 787 and, by some estimates, overall build rates on commercial transports that by 2013 and 2014 will have surpassed by 40 percent the rates seen in 2010. Outside of aerospace, newly emerged economies such as China, India and Brazil could remain strong markets for non-aerospace industrial titanium despite economic sluggishness in the United States and Europe.

"Regardless of what’s happening on Wall Street with the stock market, and the political turmoil that we’re seeing in the headlines, we are still seeing strong demand through the end of the year with our existing orders," said Dawne S. Hickton, vice chairwoman, president and chief executive officer of Pittsburgh-based titanium producer RTI International Metals Inc., which has raised its forecast for 2011 mill product shipments to 14 million pounds from a 12-million-pound estimate early this year.

Hickton acknowledged that the possibility of further economic turbulence can’t be ignored. But she nonetheless expects continuing growth in aerospace titanium during the next several years, supported by previously announced long-term production increases as well as "pent-up demand" among customers of both of the world’s two major aircraft manufacturers, Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Europe’s Airbus SAS.

"We have a strong order book going into next year and we’re not seeing any cancellations," she said. "In fact, our major customers are continuing to focus on making sure the supply chain will be able to support the ramp-up over the long term."....

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