Airbus: Alcoa "A partner, not a supplier"
At key Alcoa locations in the US, Airbus and Alcoa recognize a partnership that is helping get the Airbus A380, world's biggest passenger jet, off the ground.
You could look at it as a phenomenal flying machine whose wings will span a football field from goal to goal and whose engines will propel 555 human beings up to 8,000 nautical miles at half the speed of sound.
Or, you could look at it as a high-tech magic carpet made of aluminum sheet, plate, forgings, extrusions and castings joined together by a million fastening, fitting, joining and assembly products -- just about all conceived, developed and manufactured by the Alcoa Aerospace family of businesses.
21st century flagship
The Airbus A380, the largest and most advanced aircraft of its kind, is both of these things. In the words of Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus North America, it is "the flagship of the 21st century." And to Alcoa and Airbus, it's something more: the latest result of a partnership that uses engineering, collaborative problem-solving and hard work to reach new horizons in air travel.
New solutions, new horizons
The A380 will enter commercial service in 2006. It has been under development at locations throughout the US and Europe since the late 1900s. When it leaves the ground, it will take with it new products and solutions from Alcoa that set new standards in the performance of advanced aerospace metallics and fastening systems:
- New alloys that add strength and durability to wings and fuselage;
- New multi-material lockbolts for the assembly of the plane's center wing box;
- New wing spar and landing gear forgings that will hold up under the pounding of a lifetime of takeoffs and landings.
The A380 features more new Alcoa metallics and products than any other aircraft in Alcoa's 100-plus years of aerospace history. Our products are literally used from nose to tail, from the forward landing gear support structure to forgings for the horizontal and vertical stabilizers.
"That's what partners do"
All of these breakthroughs are the result of close collaboration between Alcoa's aerospace businesses and Airbus's global design team. Alcoa sought - and won - a strategic position on the A380 early in its development by applying an integrated product approach that goes beyond material and component production to create integrated solutions for specific customer needs. Working together at the solutions level, says Airbus North America chairman McArtor, is what makes Alcoa "a partner, not a supplier" with Airbus. "We gave Alcoa a challenge, and Alcoa gave us engineered solutions. That's what partners do. They solve complex manufacturing problems, and they reduced our costs."
Recognition in Torrance and Davenport
Recently, Airbus and Alcoa recognized the results of this multi-year collaboration at ceremonies in two key US manufacturing sites: Torrance, California, home of Alcoa Fastening Systems; and Davenport, Iowa, where Alcoa Mill Products fabricates massive wing and fuselage components for the A380.
Part of that recognition was for the role of US manufacturing in the A380 project. "Airbus couldn't build the A380 without the significant support of American aerospace companies," McArtor told an audience of national and local officials and Alcoa employees. Airbus spends $15 million a day in the United States -- $5 billion annually. In all, more than 100,000 jobs in the United States can be tied to Airbus.
Several hundred of those jobs are in Torrance and Davenport. "The A380 is going to create a lot of jobs, not only for the next generation of Alcoa employees, but for those in many other companies as well."
Torrance and Davenport are just two of nearly 50 Alcoa locations worldwide that supply solutions for Airbus and other aerospace customers. Alcoa Fastening Systems, headquarter in Torrance, has more than 5500 employees working at 26 locations in seven countries. Alcoa Mill Products has more than 4000 employees in four countries supplying sheet and plate for aerospace, industrial, transportation and construction markets around the world. Alcoa's other aerospace businesses include: Alcoa Europe Rolled Products, Alcoa Fastening Systems, Alcoa Forging and Extrusions, Alcoa Wheel and Forged Products, Latin American Rolled Products businesses, and Alcoa Howmet Castings. These businesses supply Airbus and the balance of the aerospace industry with aluminum sheet and plate, fasteners, forgings, structural castings, and propulsion components such as super alloy turbine blades. Alcoa's aerospace revenues were approximately $2 billion in 2003 and reflect the company's expanded aerospace materials, product and technology portfolio.
Alcoa Employees Show Their Pride in a Job Well Done
Among the most memorable moments at both AFS and AMP On Board the A380 events came when Alcoans involved in the day-to-day production of our products spoke to Mr. McArtor. Ishman Baber from Torrance brought the audience to its feet when he congratulated the Airbus NA CEO not only for his success in business, but for his stint as an Air Force pilot over Vietnam and his place on the Thunderbirds, their precision flying squadron. And Penny Brown reflected the pride of all Alcoans when she presented Mr. McArtor with a scroll personally signed by several hundred Davenport Alcoans making A380 products.
Alcoa profiled on A380 'Reveal' web site
Airbus unveiled the completed A380 in Toulouse on January 19, 2005. The Airbus Reveal web site maps global suppliers, including Alcoa in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, New York, California and Arizona. Click here for a direct link to the Alcoa profile.
A380 partnership adds Alcoa jobs
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Read the announcement
Alcoa A380 materials
Super alloy turbine blades