Alcoa breaks ground for new alloy plant

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Alcoa has begun construction in Lafayette, Indiana of a new aluminium lithium plant that will be capable of producing more than 20,000t per year of the new lightweight alloy for wing skins and fuselage panels.

Introduced last year, the alloy will allow "airframers to build dramatically lighter and lower-cost airplanes versus composite alternatives", says Alcoa. "They also provide the best strength-to-weight performance in Alcoa's alloy portfolio combined with better stiffness and corrosion resistance."

Along with the new facility, Alcoa is also expanding its aluminium lithium capacity at existing plants in Pennsylvania and the UK.

"Our aluminium lithium supply chain will be the premier operation in the world and this specialty alloy will be flying on the next generation aircraft," says Eric Roegner, president of Alcoa's forgings and extrusions business.

The $90 million, 10,687m2 (115,000ft2) plant, built next to Alcoa's existing facility in Lafayette, will employ 75 workers once operational and is expected to produce its first aluminium lithium by the end of 2014.