Major investment, major growth and major contracts are helping Pechiney Aerospace to retain its place as the world's leading manufacturer of plate aluminium. During the last 10 years the company has spent $500 million on new equipment and acquisitions, but despite last year's drop in aircraft production, Pechiney still doubled its output.

Philippe Darmayan, Pechiney's aeronautical, transport and industry divisional director, explains: "Between 1999 and 2001 our sales have risen from 30-60,000 tonnes of heavy plate aluminium. "Last year there was a drop of about 5% in aircraft production, but for us there has been a growth in the passenger traffic aeronautics market and sales for aircraft. The reason for this is the number of avionics manufacturers investing in programmes for wide-bodied jets and lighter planes with higher performance, all of which require aluminium."

Pechiney is currently benefiting from its contract with Airbus as its main supplier of plate aluminium. Due to its integrated structures, aluminium accounts for 80% of the material used in the A380 wide-body jet, amounting to 1.5t compared with the 0.6t used in the A320. And because designers have focused on using heavy plate aluminium, consumption of aluminium has risen faster than the numbers of aircraft being manufactured.

Source: Flight Daily News