LOS ANGELES Delivery lead
times on aerospace titanium to service centers and other buyers
have shrunk significantly in the midst of a flat market, and
there is little indication of an imminent uptick.
Mill lead times to distributors
for small bars of standard aerospace titanium alloy 6
aluminum/4 vanadium have contracted to about eight weeks from
12 to 14 weeks earlier this year, market sources said, while
lead times for titanium 6/4 plate and sheet is eight to 10
weeks, down from 14 to 16 weeks at the start of 2012.
However, day-to-day prices for
mill products have remained relatively flat, market sources
said, although requirements for any significant amounts are
likely to attract discounts.
Outside of mill products,
standard 6/4 ingot has increasingly been changing hands at the
low end of AMMs current range of $10.50 to
$11.50 per pound, according to industry reports.
One distributor source noted
that his company was bringing inventory into its warehouses in
the first quarter in anticipation of an uptick by the third
quarter, spurred by growing airliner build rates at both
Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS of Toulouse, France.
"Were still waiting for that uptick," he said, adding
that he sees few signs it will arrive before years
There also have been slow sales
into both the non-aerospace global industrial titanium market
and military programs as the defense industry looks towards the
possibility of budget sequestration next year.
"Were bidding on some
nice-size packages," a distributor source said of the defense
market. "But then again, weve been bidding on some of
these same packages for the past six months."
Most market sources agree that
the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which consumes an estimated 180,000
to 225,000 pounds of titanium buy weight per aircraft, is the
key to any upturn.
"What we need is for Boeing to
get to 10 of these planes per month," said a supplier to the
program, referring to Boeings targeted build rate by late
2013 compared to the recently reported build rate of three per
While Boeing has orders for more
than 800 Dreamliners, the supplier wasnt encouraged by
the move by Australias Qantas Airways Ltd. this past week
to cancel orders for 35 Dreamliners, bringing this years
total cancellations to nearly 75. A Boeing spokeswoman
couldnt be reached for comment.