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June 18, 2003
Alcoa Unveils Strategic Initiative to Develop Advanced Metallic Products for Current and Next-Generation Airliners
LE BOURGET, France & PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 18, 2003--
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) today unveiled a strategic development initiative
aimed at redefining the cost and weight performance of advanced
metallic structures, with the goal of helping aircraft manufacturers
design and produce commercial aircraft meeting the needs of the
The Alcoa 20-20 initiative will provide a 20 percent weight
reduction and 20 percent lower cost for metallic aircraft components -
a goal that is to be reached in a building-block approach over the
next 20 years.
"Alcoa's 20-20 initiative is focused on two objectives. The first
is to shift current thinking about the cost and weight performance of
metallics. The second is to develop new generations of innovative
metallic structures that will help our customers break existing
paradigms associated with manufacturing built-up structures," William
F. Christopher, President of Alcoa's Aerospace, Automotive and
Commercial Transportation business group told reporters at the Paris
Christopher said the initiative responds to the needs of aircraft
manufacturers to design, engineer and manufacture products capable of
meeting the requirements of the world's airlines for aircraft that are
affordable, with lower operating and maintenance costs and that are
compatible with their current infrastructure.
Prototype development of Alcoa 20-20 components is well advanced,
and several examples were unveiled this week during the Paris Air Show
at Le Bourget Airport. The first building-block components are now
being offered to aircraft manufacturers and operators for initial
applications on both passenger and cargo aircraft.
"The 20-20 initiative's building block allows improvements to be
introduced incrementally," Christopher said. "This significantly
improves the probability of success and reduces the risks associated
with implementing our advanced metallic products -- not only on future
generations of aircraft, but with retrofitting them to current
platforms and using them on derivatives, as well."
Christopher stressed Alcoa's need to work side-by-side with its
customers' designers and engineers, merging Alcoa's knowledge with
theirs to create the building blocks that will enable the success of
Alcoa's 20-20 initiative is the result of the company's continuing
dialog with its broad international aerospace customer base. Alcoa
recently completed an industry survey of airframe manufacturers' needs
for their next-generation aircraft, conducting approximately 440
interviews with aerospace industry engineers, designers and managers.
Alcoa has supplied aluminum for aviation applications since the
Wright Brothers' first flight, and it developed the vast majority of
all aerospace alloys in use today. The company broadened its aerospace
product portfolio in recent years with the acquisition of Howmet
(precision castings in superalloy, titanium and aluminum alloys), and
of Huck Fasteners and Fairchild Fasteners -- which have been combined
to create Alcoa Fastening Systems.
With the Alcoa 20-20 initiative's building-block approach,
advanced metallic components can be first used and validated on
smaller-sized structures, then expanded significantly by enlarging
their size and broadening the application. This provides a lower risk
approach, and allows aircraft manufacturers to make a phased
transition to the new metallics.
One of the 20-20 components displayed for the first time at the
Paris Air Show is a prototype fuselage skin using a new aluminum alloy
and produced with advanced welding and forming techniques.
The fuselage skin was manufactured from Alcoa's 6013 alloy. Its
reinforcing ribs -- called stringers -- also were produced from new
6000-series alloys, and they were attached using a laser welding
process. The completed skin was given its curved shape through
age/creep forming -- a novel process in which the skin is shaped under
high temperature, then held in position for several hours.
The resulting prototype fuselage skin is lighter in weight,
stronger, corrosion-resistant and has excellent damage tolerance
characteristics. The 6000-series alloy allows the automated laser
welding process to be used -- eliminating the need for many individual
fasteners, which have to be installed in holes that are manually
drilled during the production process.
Alcoa is the world's leading producer of primary aluminum,
fabricated aluminum and alumina, and is active in all major aspects of
the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging,
building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial
markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other
capabilities of Alcoa's businesses as a single solution to customers.
In addition to aluminum products and components, Alcoa also markets
consumer brands including Reynolds Wrap(R) aluminum foil, Alcoa(R)
wheels, and Baco(R) household wraps. Among its other businesses are
vinyl siding, closures, precision castings, and electrical
distribution systems for cars and trucks. The company has 127,000
employees in 40 countries. For more information go to www.alcoa.com.