NEW YORK New aerospace
alloys like aluminum-lithium are unlikely to play a significant
role in Boeing Co.s product mix until they prove
themselves a cost-effective alternative to current materials,
according to a Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) executive.
John Byrne, BCAs vice
president of airplane materials, structures and supplier
management, said that while the company does take an interest
in the development of new alloys, these alloys have to "buy
their way onto the airplane."
"If I cant get a customer
to pay for it, its not going on the airplane," he told
attendees at the 2nd Annual Aluminum Summit in New York, hosted
"The next opportunity for a new
alloy to get large acreage on an all-new Boeing is probably in
the early part of the next decade," Byrne added.
The emphasis on cost is part of
a changing culture at Boeing, he said, with the entrenchment of
Airbus SAS as a major competitor driving price sensitivity at
"In the past when weve
gone through rate increases, we used to have conversations
internally where wed say, Cost is interesting, but
scheduling is king. We joked that nobody got fired for
going over budget, but you did for missing a delivery," he
said. But that attitude has since changed at the Chicago-based
Byrnes address echoed his
remarks from AMMs Aerospace Materials Conference
in April (AMM, April 26), reiterating Wednesday that
the company intends to be "more aggressive" with its supply
chain as it targets production rate increases, which will
translate into a 60-percent boost in aluminum demand by
Boeing is targeting a build rate
of 63 aircraft per month by 2014, from 43 airplanes per month
currently, according to Byrne.
This will mean greater pressure
on the supply chain, with a week in missed deliveries on the
737 line equating to "being ten airplanes down," Byrne
"The aluminum mills had a
history where, when we would go up in (build) rate, they would
struggle with delivery performance. And it just ripples through
the supply chain when were late," he said.
As a result, Byrne said the
company now has to "act more like an 800-pound gorilla" in
keeping on top of its suppliers operations.
"I want to know if youve
had a press go down and its caused an effect in
production," he said.
Byrne also reiterated the
companys previously announced goals of setting up a
closed-loop raw material stream with its aluminum suppliers
(AMM, March 29).
"I still dont think parts
of the industry appreciate the magnitude of opportunity there
in dollars and the sustainability behaviors it drives in the
supply chain," he said.
"I tell machine shops, you need to segregate and be maniacal
about collecting every single chip and getting it into the mill
so we can all optimize our efficiencies. We cannot accept
excuses anymorethe environmental and cost situation does
not allow it."