Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su

Subscribe to news


#Boeing and Airbus buy up our titanium. Will Russia have enough for its own aircrafts?

All news #

July 17 2008

Traditionally, Russia is the world's largest supplier not only of gas and oil, but, for example, "aircraft metal" - titanium. It was reported the other day, that aviaholding Airbus will be purchasing our titanium up to 2020. American competitor of Airbus - Boeing - is using our titanium to the utmost. But, exporting titanium, do we not forget about our aircraft-building requirements?
Undoubtedly, we provide the whole world with titanium. Recently, Perm Corporation - VSMPO-AVISMA - (world's largest titanium manufacturer) has singed one more agreement with Airbus. Now and till 2020, our corporation will supply various titanium mill products for the new generation of European aircrafts А350 XWB. Contract amount is impressive - $4 bln.
It is, of course, very pleasing that the products are in demand. Hard, light and heat-resistant titanium, along with the composites, is used for most of the modern aircraft structures. Herewith, today, almost all titanium (in the form of mill products, forged parts and truck beams) in American Boeings, and over half of European Airbuses, is supplied by this same Russian Company. Russian and CIS market share is 28% only of the production volume.
While domestic aircraft-manufacturers were in severe crisis, this situation was not of a concern. But now, the Russian government would really like to revive domestic aircraft building: make not only military aircrafts, but civil ones as well. The Corporation "Sukhoi" plans to start serial production of its new medium-haul aircraft Sukhoi Superjet100 as early as in 2010. Up to date, the Company has already received 73 firm orders for this aircraft, and the total production should be at the level of 800-1200 aircrafts. But this is not it: in 2009, production and supply of the new fighter SU-35 shall start for the Russian Army. Will there be enough Russian titanium for these projects?
Boeing and Airbus do not even let in the possibility of VSMPO-AVISMA's titanium flow discontinuation. By the way, jointly, these companies buy about 65% of Russian titanium.
"VSMPO-AVISMA is a very reliable partner, - Dmitry Hroll, Boeing press secretary in Russia, firmly stated to Izvestia. - We have concluded contracts for the period of up to 2015."
"Our cooperation will be merely strengthening," - warrants Maria Shlyakhova, Airbus press secretary in Russia.
As forecasted, up to 2015, all aircraft manufacturers promise to reach titanium use of 10-15% of aircraft weight. During which time, total requirements will increase from 40 to 60 thousand t/y (out of which 40 thousand tons - instead of the current 20 thousand tons - will be used for civil aircrafts).
Equally as calm is Vladislav Tetyukhin, Director General of VSMPO-AVISMA, - he is sure that his company will be able to make as much titanium as will be required.
"As early as in 2012, we plan to make 46 thousand tons of titanium per year, and increase our share in the world market to up to 33%", - he says.
Furthermore, as experts say, our new aircraft is not that "titanium-dependant".
"Sukhoi Superjet100 is rather conservative in the use of materials. Its titanium share can be at the level of 5% of the total weight - or 2 tons out of 40", - estimates Konstantin Makienko, Deputy Director, Strategy and Technology Analysis Center.
Consequently, even with 100 Superjets per year, production will need 200 t only - or less than 0.5% of the Tetyukhin's promised VSMPO-AVISMA production volume. SU-35 requirements may be higher - most likely, it will use most advanced titanium armor. But, this project is of top secrecy now, and how much titanium will be in its 19 tons is not known for sure. But, even if over half of SU-35 consists of titanium, in any case, it will not require a great deal of metal. So, let us "be feeding" at least third of the world with titanium!
Paul Arabov
Financial Izvestia