NEW YORK Demand
for aluminum aerospace alloys has pared back slightly due
to seasonality, but the slowdown hasnt been severe enough
to impact mill lead times, sources said.
Lead times for 2000- and 7000-
aerospace alloys are still between three and five months,
depending on the mill, largely unchanged from earlier this fall
and down just slightly from the six months reported earlier
The recent slowdown in demand
comes as service centers look to end the year with lean
inventories, sources said.
"The market is definitely
slower. Everyone is worried about year-end. Its almost
like they want to glide for the next 60 days," one service
center source told AMM.
A second service center source
agreed. "No one wants inventory on their floor the last few
months of the year," he said.
Sources said lead times
havent come in despite the slower demand because a number
of mills typically perform maintenance during the slower
periods. Kaiser Aluminum Corp., for example, has said it plans
to perform maintenance across its facilities as it anticipates
fewer orders from service centers for the next two months (
amm.com, Oct. 26).
"I dont believe lead times
will shorten. Mills will do maintenance and slow down
production as workers are on vacation," the second service
center source said.
"They have shortened, but I
dont know if theyll shorten further," a third
service center source agreed.
As demand for aerospace alloys
slows, production of the more common 6000-series
alloysused in a variety of industries, including general
engineeringtypically increases, sources said.
The first service center source
said he has already seen an uptick in 6000-series domestic
"When (aerospace) demand starts
to slow, (producers) tend to make more standard items (like the
6000 series) and put them in mill stock. In the last few weeks,
we can see more material available," he said. "Its
typical for this part of the cycle. I dont see these as
Meanwhile, distributors expect
aerospace demand to pick up next year, which could push
aerospace alloy lead times back out, they said.
Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based
Kaiser has said it expects backlogs for Airbus ASA and Boeing
Co., now at eight years, to expand every year until 2020 (
amm.com, Oct. 17).
"I agree (with Kaiser)," the
first service center source said. "Backlogs are increasing. And
I dont know if theres a limit to how far they could
go. There is a lot of expansion going on and there are a lot of
older fleets in the world."
But the first service
center source said he doesnt expect lead times to push
out beyond six months, even with the expected rebound in
"Lead times wont come in
much more, but theyre going to stop getting longer (and
producers) will start holding more and more (metal)," he