LOS ANGELES The
maiden flight of the A350 on June 14 marked a milestone not
only for Airbus SAS but also for a number of major U.S.
contractors, among them suppliers of titanium parts and
The A350 XWB
(extra-wide body), the worlds newest twin-aisle airliner,
landed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France four hours and
five minutes after taking offkicking off about 2,500
hours of test flying with a fleet of five development aircraft
in preparation for the models entry into service in the
second half of 2014.
Spirit AeroSystems Inc. is among the A350s major U.S.
suppliers, John Pilla, Spirits senior vice president and
general manager for Airbus and A350 program management, said in
a statement following the flight.
Spirit builds the A350
composite center fuselage section, along with the composite
front wing spar, at its facility in Kinston, N.C. Fuselage
panels are assembled into a single shipset at Spirits
facility in Saint-Nazaire, France, then delivered to Airbus. It
also builds the fixed leading edges of the aircraft wings at
its facility in Prestwick, Scotland. Spirit said it has already
delivered six units to Airbus for the A350 XWB program.
Spurred in large part
by a move to composites instead of more-traditional aluminum,
each A350 airframe contains about 150,000 pounds of titanium
buy weight, according to industry estimates. Thisas well
as the 180,000 pounds of titanium buy weight on the
planes primary direct competition, the Boeing 787
Dreamlinerhas accelerated a requirement in the supply
chain for greater titanium machining capacity, due both to
aluminums reported compatibility problems with composites
and the need for a material with a greater strength-to-weight
ratio than aluminum in order to support lighter composite
International Inc. (ADI), Valencia, Calif., last fall launched
a 40-percent increase in its titanium machining capacity with a
$90-million expansion to support its work on both the A350 and
787. The investment includes 10 machines valued at close to $45
million, two of which have already been delivered, an ADI
role on the A350 includes building the equipped gear
beama complex assembly in the landing gear deployment
mechanismas well as the underwing pylons, or engine
nacelle attach fittings. It also builds door edge frames for
"We recognized the
need for more titanium machining capacity in the industry," the
ADI spokesman said by phone in France, where the company is
participating in this coming weeks Paris Air Show.
Among other major U.S.
suppliers on the A350 are the UTC Aerospace
Systems-Aerostructures unit of United Technology Corp., Chula
Vista, Calif. President Marc Duvall said in a statement that
the engine housing his operation is making for the A350 is the
"largest nacelle system weve ever designed and