NEW YORK Aerospace growth is expected to remain "vibrant" in both the near and long term, according to a senior executive at aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.
Olivier Jarrault, executive vice president and group president of the Pittsburgh-based aluminum producers engineered products and solutions division, anticipates strong orders and deliveries, driven by a continuing rise in demand for travel and an aging aircraft fleet.
Demand for aircraft now and in the future has already created a backlog of more than nine years worth of production, based on 2013 rates, he added.
Jarrault, who was speaking at Cowen & Co.s 35th Annual Aerospace/Defense Conference and Transportation Conference in New York, noted that compound annual growth in the commercial airline fleet was 3.6 percent in 2012, with 20,000 planes in operation.
But 9,000 of those planes will be replaced between now and 2022, and a further 9,000 planes will be built over the same period, bringing the total number of commercial planes to 17,940, he said.
A further 35,280 planes will be built between 2022 and 2032, of which 21,000 will be new planes and 14,000 will be replacement aircraft. The existing fleet of active aircraft in 2012 will shrink to 6,000 planes, he forecast.
In 2013, aerospace accounted for 17 percent of Alcoa revenue. More than 90 percent of all alloys flying on todays aircraft were developed by Alcoa, one of the worlds largest producers of aluminum.
But it is not all about aluminum. Around 60 percent of Alcoas aerospace revenue comes from non-aluminum materials, Jarrault noted.
"Innovation is one of the key components of the Alcoa businesses, and has allowed it to gain a strong position in both aircraft-intensive (applications) in aluminum as well as carbon fiber-reinforced plastic fastened panels," he said.
The company also has a joint venture with Russias VSMPO-Avisma Corp., the worlds largest manufacturer of titanium ingots and forged products.
Alcoa already operates one of the two largest 75,000-tonne hydraulic vertical forging presses in Russia at its Alcoa Samara Metallurgical Plant.
The partnership with VSMPO will manufacture large forged products such as landing gear beams and wing components at Samara.