Kobe Steel Ltd. is supplying titanium forgings to landing-gear specialist Messier-Bugatti-Dowty in support of the latter company’s production of main landing gears for the Airbus A350 XWB commercial aircraft. The total value and production volumes of the new contract were not announced.
The A350 XWB is a long-range jet developed by Airbus to offer a high-capacity, fuel-efficient commercial aircraft, using lightweight composite materials in several new applications. Airbus has logged more than 800 orders for the new jets, from 40 different customers. Qatar Airways, which has ordered 80 jets in three design variants, is scheduled to make the A350 XWB’s debut flight later this year.
The contract represents a new titanium supply for Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Safran Group S.A. Kobe Steel is well established as an integrated supplier of titanium ingots and titanium alloy products, like tubulars, sheet, and forgings.
Specifically, the landing gear parts will be produced through Kobe Steel’s subsidiary, Japan Aeroforge Ltd.
Japan Aeroforge is the joint-venture manufacturer that Kobe Steel (40.53%) and Hitachi Metals Ltd. (40.53%) established in 2011, along with four smaller shareholders. Its primary operation is a plant in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture that started up last April and houses a 50,000-ton hydraulic press, one of the largest forging machines in the world. Japan Aeroforge was established to forge large-dimension titanium parts specifically for aerospace manufacturing.