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Boeing is establishing “in-house manufacturing” of actuation components and systems, including gear systems and flight controls for wing trailing-edges on the Next-Generation 737, 737 MAX, and 777 commercial aircraft programs.

Boeing Selects Steel Forger to Supply New UK Plant

Mettis Aerospace Ltd. will provide alloy steel forgings for complex machining of gear systems and flight controls

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chose Mettis Aerospace Ltd. to supply alloy steel forgings it will process at its new plant Sheffield, England. Last year Boeing announced it will open its first European manufacturing operation in Sheffield to perform complex machining of gear systems and flight controls for the Next-Generation 737, 737 MAX, and 777 aircraft.

The new plant is being built near The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, a machining and materials research campus founded in 2001.

Mettis Aerospace, in Redditch, about 100 miles from the Boeing plant, is a designer and manufacturer of precision forged and machined components.  

Earlier this year Mettis Aerospace began installing a new, 40-mt counter-blow hammer press at the Redditch plant to manufacture specialty alloy forgings weighing up to 750 kg. The project was described as one of the largest forging presses in the U.K., and one of the largest capital investments by Mettis in several decades.

This Bêché press, called the DG40, will forge components up to 1.80x0.65 m, enhancing the plant’s current forging capabilities, which includes more than 60 forging units of up to 12,000 mt.

Mettis Aerospace CEO Gordon Fraser said, “Our integrated centers of excellence are looking forward to working together to deliver steel alloy precision-forged components to Boeing’s first European factory. We’re proud to be extending our relationship with the company and to be part of this great venture.”

Other suppliers for the Sheffield operation named by Boeing include Aeromet International Ltd. (aluminum castings); Maher Ltd. (customized steel bars and pre-machined components); MetLase Ltd. (tooling and fixturing); and Nikken Kosakusho Europe Ltd. (high-precision tool-holders, cutting tools and tool presetting systems.)

The estimated $25-million plant is on schedule to open this year. The parts it will produce are described as actuation devices for the trailing edge of aircraft wings. Trailing edge actuation systems are responsible for extending and retracting wing flaps during different phases of flight. The flaps add lift that allow take-off and landing at lower speeds, and provide drag to help slow the aircraft.

Boeing indicated at the time of the project announcement that it aimed to increase its share of in-house manufacturing of “key actuation components and systems” in the U.S. and U.K. to improve production efficiency and lower supply-chain costs.

A Boeing component finishing plant at Portland, OR, will received components produced at Sheffield and assemble actuation systems for 737s and 777s.

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