Imet Alloys (U.S. Pavilion, Hall 3, AB110), a first-time exhibitor at the Paris Air Show, which describes itself as “an ambitious global company specializing in the control and management of superalloy and titanium from the aviation industry.” Founded by CEO Ruaraidh Williamson in 2011 and headquartered in Monroe, North Carolina, Imet Alloys helps companies control their superalloy and titanium scrap, known in the industry as “revert.”
A switch from composite to titanium for the inner walls of the thrust reversers on the Boeing 737 Max has allowed designers to increase the fan diameter in the airplane’s CFM International Leap-1B turbofans without a proportional increase in the size of the nacelle. The relatively minimal growth of the nacelle means Boeing could keep its original plans for coping with the small amount of ground clearance margin available while optimizing thrust levels, explained 737 Max program vice president and general manager Keith Leverkuhn.
On Tuesday, Boeing and Aviation Capital Services, a subsidiary of the State Corporation Russian Technologies (Rostech), announced a commitment by Rostech to purchase 35 737 Max narrow bodies. The transaction, valued at $3.5 billion at current list price, represents the first commitment for the 737 Max from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Russia’s VSMPO-AVISMA Corp., specialist manufacturer of products made of titanium and aluminum alloys, steel and nickel, and Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Co. (SAMC), have signed a long-term purchase contract for titanium forging products for the Comac C919 aircraft program.
The intake of titanium by the global aviation industry is predicted to rise dramatically over this decade with the production of next-generation commercial jets made of advanced construction materials gearing up. Today, this industry consumes 40 percent of the world’s titanium supply. According to an independent analysis, demand for titanium in commercial aviation will increase from 42,000 metric tons in 2011 to more than 49,000 tons this year and then rise to 72,000 tons in 2016.
Part and subassembly specialist Figeac Aero is a first-time exhibitor here at the Farnborough airshow (Hall 1 Stand A15), with the news that it is expanding its activities to include hard metal machining. After having been badly hit by the economy last year, the French company hopes revenues are back on an ascending curve.
Snecma and GE Aviation are developing new materials to make future engines lighter and improve their efficiency. In the works are alloys using exotic metals such as niobium, and composites using organic, ceramic or metal matrices. The two companies will employ these technologies for the Leap-X engine they are developing under their CFM joint venture (Hall 4 Stand B13) and possibly for other projects.
Volvo Aero has been working on a new generation of lightweight engine fan frames, and is exhibiting a demonstrator on its stand (Hall 2A Stand B114). The fan frame is the largest the company has produced, and is constructed from composites and titanium. The fan frame is a complex part of the engine in terms of loads, especially as it incorporates the lugs that attach the engine to the airframe.
Russian titanium manufacturer VSMPO-AVISMA (Hall 3 Stand B30) has signed a framework agreement covering the supply of titanium products to Airbus and other EADS divisions that could be worth as much as $4 billion through 2020.
Complex materials, made of carbon fiber composites and a metal, are tricky to characterize. “We already know that titanium is a better match than aluminum with carbon fiber,” research coordinator Benoît Sagot-Duvauroux said. But now researchers are endeavoring to put numbers on corrosion and dilatation issues, for example. Simulation of real-world operating conditions is the key to success in this work.