Alcoa today (29 October 2015) formally opened a $100 million extension to its La Porte, Indiana jet-engine parts facility. This is to enable the manufacture of larger structural components, including for the PurePower family of geared turbofans from Pratt & Whitney, with whom it has a 10-year, $1.1 billion contract forecast-aluminium fan blades.
The metals specialist recently announced a long-expected plan to split into two companies, one focusing on its traditional mining activities – which are being hit by low prices for aluminium and other raw metals – and the other on downstream applications including manufactured aerospace components. That push to establish a strong position in manufactured products, as opposed to raw materials, has been manifest in acquisitions including of UK-based forged-parts maker Firth Rixon, for$2.85 billion in 2014, and, this year, ofPittsburgh-based titanium supplier RTI International Metals and German castings specialist Tital.
In 2013, Alcoa formed a joint venture with Russia’s VSMPO-AVISMA, the world′s largest manufacturer of titanium ingots and forged products. VSMPO is a long-standing strategic partner of Boeing, and operates a 75,000-tonne forging press from which the two companies plan to supply qualified and certificated forged-titanium components to major aerospace customers from 2016.
On a pro forma basis, including the RTI and Tital acquisitions, Alcoa’s 2014 aerospace revenues would have been $5.6 billion following and the company is projecting 8% aerospace sales growth in 2016 and 13% in 2017.
The company is best known for aluminium – originally as the Aluminum Corporation of America – but has long been a multi-materials supplier, producing, for example, structural castings in titanium since 1917.