Kobe Steel Ltd. has started producing large-dimension titanium forgings for supply to France’s Safran Landing Systems, which incorporates the parts into landing gears it supplies to Airbus for its A350 XWB wide-body jets. The parts have been in development and certification since 2013, when Kobe Steel entered into a long-term contract with Safran (at that time, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty), a specialty developer of commercial aircraft landing gear.
The A350 XWB is long-range jet developed by Airbus to offer a high-capacity, fuel-efficient commercial aircraft, using composite as well as other lightweight materials. Airbus has logged more than 800 orders for the new jets, from 40 different customers, though just 27 aircraft have been delivered to date.
A sample of the titanium forging was exhibited last month at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow, in England.
Kobe Steel manages the titanium production, production planning, and quality assurance for the program, while forging is done at Japan Aeroforge Ltd.
Japan Aeroforge is joint venture established in 2011 by Kobe Steel (40.53%) and Hitachi Metals Ltd. (40.53%), with IHI Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc., and Sojitz Aerospace Corp. holding smaller shares. Its plant at Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, started up in 2013, centering on a 50,000-ton hydraulic press, described as one of the largest forging machines in the world.