Aeroengine manufacturers rely heavily on specialist metals for their tremendous strength and high melting points.
But a worldwide shortage of rhenium is threatening to stop them in their tracks.
Rhenium is a byproduct of the production of molybdenum. Its claim to fame as the metal with the second highest melting point (3,180íC) is matched by its ability to withstand massive changes in temperature without catastrophic results.
But falling base metal prices worldwide have resulted in lower production and supplies are drying up.
Outside of Chile, the main producer is Kazakhstan where production has fallen drastically.
New uses of rhenium as a catalyst for the petrochemical industry are also affecting supply. The Kazakh stockpile ran out a year ago and political and economic problems mean there is unlikely to be much more.
Anthony Lipmann, of UK specialist metal merchants Lipmann Walton, says: "The Western world has come to depend on some of these elements like a drug addict waiting for a fix.
"With Russia in such turmoil, disruption may be a feature over the next few years and supplies of nickel, titanium, cobalt and tungsten could also be affected.
Source: Flight Daily News