LOS ANGELES Executives in
the titanium supply chain supporting Boeing Co.s 787
Dreamliner say they havent been told to alter shipments
in the wake of technical problems that have grounded most of
the planes global fleetbut they are watching the
"Theres been no
communication to us whatsoever," a source at a titanium
supplier said, adding that he doesnt see how problems
with the aircrafts lithium batteries could affect
structural production of the plane.
The 787 airframe has a titanium
buy-weight estimated at 180,000 pounds.
The Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded Boeings newest
commercial airliner this week, maintaining that airlines must
demonstrate the batteries are safe before flying resumes.
Moreover, two Japanese airlines that account for nearly half of
the approximately 50 Dreamliners already delivered have
grounded those planes due to battery problems, while airlines
in Europe and the Middle East also are leaving the planes on
the tarmac until the issues are resolved.
"Boeing is committed to
supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible,"
Jim McNerney, chairman, president and chief executive officer
of the Chicago-based company, said in a statement.
"We have no plans to suspend 787
production," a Boeing spokesman in Seattle said when asked if
the company had asked any raw material suppliers to suspend or
slow deliveries to the program. Boeing has a backlog of about
850 orders for the aircraft.
"As of right now, were not
overly concerned. Everything weve seen so far is that
Boeing is going full-bore on maintaining production of the
787-8 as well as ramping up the 787-9," a component supplier
said, referring to the Dreamliner currently being produced and
the next, longer model due for delivery starting next year.
However, another aerospace
supplier said that the outcome will depend on how quickly
Boeing, the airlines and the regulatory agencies find a
solution to the problem.
A cutback in deliveries
wouldnt be unprecedented, although the most serious
earlier stretchouts of raw material shipments werent
associated with technical problems on planes already in
In 2008, as Boeing slashed its
expectations of 787 deliveries through 2009 by nearly 80
percent to 25 planes, it deferred shipments of certain titanium
products flowing to Dreamliner contractors as the
companys inventory built up (
amm.com, April 14, 2008).
At that time, Boeings
"exclusive service provider," Kent, Wash.-based service center
TMX Aerospace Inc., a division of Southfield, Mich.-based
ThyssenKrupp Materials NA Inc., told customers that at
Boeings direction it was "temporarily suspending"
shipments to contractors in order to "manage" anticipated raw