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RTI’s supply agreements boost aero OEM ties

Sep 18, 2013 | 05:34 PM | Frank Haflich

Tags  titanium, RTI International Metals, United Technologies, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky Aircraft, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Airbus, Dawne S. Hickton original equipment manufacturer

LOS ANGELES — A series of titanium supply agreements with units of United Technologies Corp. boosts RTI International Metals Inc.’s ties to aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and could help RTI land more downstream fabrication work in the future.

RTI said this week it had entered into "long-term titanium mill product supply agreements" with UTC Aerospace Systems, engine builder Pratt & Whitney Canada and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

An RTI spokesman said he was unable to disclose the length of the agreements or the amount of material involved.

The agreements involve rotor-quality billet as well as mill products for "various rotary-wing platforms," the latter presumably for Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter builder Sikorsky. One of the major applications of titanium in helicopters is rotor hubs, according to industry observers.

RTI also will supply titanium sheet primarily to manufacture engine nacelle components. This would presumably involve the Chula Vista, Calif., operations of UTC Aerospace Systems, which was part of the former Goodrich Corp., acquired by United Technologies last year for $18.4-billion.

A spokesman for Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies could not be reached for comment.

RTI vice chairwoman, president and chief executive officer Dawne S. Hickton described the agreements in a statement as an "extension and enhancement" of its relationship with United Technologies. In June, Pratt & Whitney Corp., East Hartford, Conn., became the "engine launch customer" for the output of RTI’s new electron beam furnace in Canton, Ohio (, June 17).

It is unclear whether the long-term agreements will lead RTI to ship more material for United Technologies programs in the short term, since they include mill products previously sold by RTI to "third-party fabricators" under agreements expiring at the end of 2013, according to RTI. Moreover, RTI isn’t necessarily believed to be the only—or the largest—supplier of titanium to the company, and to Pratt & Whitney in particular, under long-term supply agreements.

However, RTI has been emphasizing its role as an "integrated supplier of advanced titanium products and services across the entire supply chain," and has made no secret of its intention to carry its initial mill product relations with OEMs downstream to fabrication operations such as its RTI Claro machining unit in Montreal and, eventually, RTI Remmele Engineering in New Brighton, Minn. (, Feb. 6).

"We have other capabilities we can offer" in addition to mill products, the RTI spokesman said.

For example, RTI is the largest North American supplier of titanium mill products to Toulouse, France-based aircraft builder Airbus SAS. But Hickton said during a recent earnings conference call that RTI is "now supplying machined parts" for Airbus’ new A350 airliner, according to a transcript of that call.

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