LOS ANGELES RTI
International Metals Inc. has begun commercial titanium
production at its new Virginia mill products facility as
commercial aircraft builder Airbus SAS emphasized the
plants importance to its escalating metal
The $135-million plant in
Martinsville will give Pittsburgh-based RTI an additional 14
million pounds of mill product capacity a year through its
forging cell, although rolling capacity is also planned. Its
existing Niles, Ohio, facility has a capacity of 22 million to
23 million pounds a year.
The initial production of
aerospace product culminates a 10-month certification testing
process at Martinsville, which became operational last
RTI is Toulouse, France-based
Airbus "largest North American titanium supplier", RTI
vice chairwoman, president and chief executive officer Dawne S.
Hickton said in a statement.
In 2008, when the Virginia plant
was first announced, RTI said the site would support its role
in the production of Lockheed Martins F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter. However, as the aircraft program subsequently suffered
delays, RTIs role with European commercial transport
builder Airbus SAS and parent European Aeronautic Defence and
Space Co. N.V. (EADS) grew.
"This new plant offers us
greater material support due to RTIs increased capacity
to produce titanium raw material, not only for our A350 XWB
(Extra Wide Body) aircraft, but to an extended number of EADS
and Airbus supply chain partners," Eric Zanin, senior vice
president of material procurement for EADS and Airbus, said in
Zanin told the International
Titanium Association (ITA) meeting in Atlanta earlier this
week that as output ramps up for the new A350 and other
programs, its titanium requirement would grow significantly
over the next decade.
Airbus titanium purchases
are projected to climb to 5,558 tonnes of plate in 2015, from
2,919 tonnes (about 6.4 million pounds) in 2011 and to 3,176
tonnes for round products from 1,784 tonnes, according to
Zanin. Airbus is projected to purchase 7,492 tonnes of plate
and 3,902 tonnes of round products in 2020, he added.
When asked if Airbus
escalating requirements would be a strain on the companys
suppliers, Zanin told AMM that hes confident the
Martinsville plant would play a key role in meeting those
Each A350 airframe has 150,000
pounds of titanium buy weight, Hickton told the ITA