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Aluminum not going away as key aero input: Michaels

Keywords: Tags  Kevin Michaels, aluminum, aerospace, ICF SH&E, Credit Suisse 2012 Aerospace & Defense Conference, Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — Airline producers’ demand for aluminum will increase in the coming years despite earlier forecasts to the contrary, ICF SH&E vice president Kevin Michaels said at the Credit Suisse 2012 Aerospace and Defense Conference Thursday.

"Rather than aluminum going the way of the buggy whip, it’s actually going to grow," he said.

When Chicago-based Boeing Co. first announced in 2003 that its 787 Dreamliner would contain only 20-percent aluminum, market players speculated that the light metal would no longer have a leading place in the aerospace sector.

But that hasn’t been the case, Michaels said, citing developments in aluminum-lithium parts that help meet demand among producers seeking to build lighter aircraft. In fact, the market bought $2.4 billion worth of aluminum in 2011, he said.

Aluminum will account for about half of the 1.2 billion pounds of raw materials to be consumed in aircraft production in 2012, Michaels said, putting steel alloys at 22 percent, titanium alloys at 10 percent, superalloys—including nickel and cobalt—at 9 percent and composites at 3 percent.

Lloyd O’Carroll, senior vice president of research at Davenport & Co. LLC, Richmond, Va., previously told AMM that aluminum shipments to the sector will reach 660 million pounds this year and 719 million pounds in 2013 (, Oct. 31).

"Aluminum isn’t declining. It will be greater in 10 years than it is today," Michaels said.

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