LOS ANGELES A joint venture between Alcoa Inc. and VSMPO-Avisma Corp. would combine two of the worlds largest forging press capacities and deepen the Russian titanium producers involvement in the global aerospace supply chain.
Alcoa and VSMPO signed a "cooperation agreement" this week in Moscow that they said marked the "first step" toward establishing a joint venture for downstream titanium and aluminum aerospace products at the formers ZAO Alcoa SMZ plant in Samara, Russia.
"This agreement will add to our current manufacturing capabilities, as the company gets access to unique forging equipment," VSMPO general director Mikhail Voevodin said.
Industry sources said Alcoas 75,000-ton press at Samara is the "sister" press of VSMPOs own 75,000-ton press.
Forgings are typically among the longest lead time raw materials in the aerospace supply chain. Unlike a number of titanium mill products, where demand has not yet fully caught up with current growing airliner production rates, forgings are feeling the "pull" of these growing rates, sources said.
Pittsburgh-based Alcoa is also a major producer of aerospace forgings in the United States. Among its operations is its Cleveland plant, whose forging capacity goes up to a 50,000-ton press, one of the largest in the country. However, there was no indication the Cleveland plant is included in this weeks agreement.
The Alcoa agreement also increases VSMPOs profile across the aerospace supply chain, where it is already a major titanium supplier to aircraft builders Boeing Co., Chicago, and Airbus SAS, Toulouse, France.
VSMPO is one of three major sources of titanium mill product to Boeing under a system of long-term supply agreements, while the companies joint venture, CJSC Ural Boeing Manufacturing, performs primary machining of titanium forgings for such airliners as the 787 Dreamliner and the 737 in Verkhnaya Salda, Russia.
Reports earlier this year in Russia indicated that Ural Boeing intends to boost its capacity by 60 percent.
VSMPO, already responsible for 60 percent of semifinished and titanium forgings requirements of Airbus and its parent company, the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV, signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus this summer calling for an "end-to-end strategic collaboration" that covers processing, recycling and development of new material (amm.com, Aug. 27).