It could be argued that Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House has come at the perfect time for the U.S.A.’s number two defense contractor, Boeing. If for no other reason than his assault during the election on the cost of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program created an opening for Boeing to put a lower-cost alternative back on the table.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35C won’t be ready in time, enter Boeing and an F/A-18 Super Hornet upgrade. Source: Adobe Stock/Spacekris.

At the same time, the U.S. military, particularly the Navy, are facing a bit of a problem with their older F/A–18 Super Hornets. As an article in Sea Power magazine notes, after 16 years of nearly constant combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria the F/A–18 Super Hornet is in danger of exceeding it’s 6,000 hours of operational life way before it had been expected in the next decade.

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Meanwhile, the Navy variant of the F-35, the F-35C is still a long way from being finished and ready for service. Largely because of the compromises Lockheed Martin has had to incorporate into the F-35 program for the Marine Corps’ F-35B vertical-landing jet, the program is way over budget, running late and, still, according to Bloomberg has major operational capability shortcomings to overcome. Read more

President Donald Trump has formed a manufacturing jobs initiative, one that will include executives from Ford Motor Co., Dow Chemical, U.S. Steel Corp. and others.

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Part of Trump’s overall jobs creation agenda, the project will involve ongoing meetings between the president and business leaders to “share their experiences and gain their insights.” According to a press release, Trump will call on the executives listed for perspectives on “how to best promote job growth and get Americans back to work again.”

Many of the executives listed as part of the initiative met with Trump on his first full day in office on Monday: Dow’s Andrew Liveris, Dell Computer‘s Michael Dell, Under Armour‘s Kevin Plank, Tesla Motors‘ Elon Musk Lockheed Martin‘s Marillyn Hewson, Klaus Kleinfeld of Arconic, Inc. and Nucor Corp.‘s John Ferriola. Scott Paul, President of the trade association the Alliance for American Manufacturing and union leaders Richard Trumka and Thea Lee, both executives in the leadership of the AFL-CIO, are also in initiative.

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Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a press briefing on Monday that the group will meet next month and then going forward on a quarterly basis.

Here’s the full list of Trump’s manufacturing jobs initiative members:

  • Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company
  • Bill Brown, Harris Corporation
  • Michael Dell, Dell Technologies
  • John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation
  • Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation
  • Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company
  • Ken Frazier, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson
  • Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.
  • Marilynn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Jeff Immelt, General Electric
  • Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.
  • Klaus Kleinfeld, Arconic
  • Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation
  • Rich Kyle, The Timken Company
  • Thea Lee, AFL-CIO
  • Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel
  • Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company
  • Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing
  • Elon Musk, Tesla
  • Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar
  • Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing
  • Kevin Plank, Under Armour
  • Mchael Polk, Newell Brands
  • Mark Sutton, International Paper
  • Inge Thulin, 3M
  • Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO
  • Wendell Weeks, Corning

Subsidies given by the U.S. state of Washington to Boeing are illegal under international trade rules derived from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization said on Nov. 28.

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It was a victory for rival aircraft maker Airbus and the European Union. The ruling from a WTO panel is the latest blow in a drawn out trans-Atlantic battle between the aviation industry’s two titans, which has seen both Airbus and Boeing score points along the way.

In the decision, the WTO said that subsidies set up by Washington state to support production of Boeing’s 777X commercial jet, were “prohibited” as they encouraged the use of domestic materials, fueling unfair trade distortions.

The panel called  for the subsidies to be withdrawn within 90 days.

Airbus was represented by the European Union in the case while the U.S . federal government fought for Boeing and Washington state because companies and regional authorities are not represented at the Geneva-based WTO.

Potential Tata, Thyssen Merger Could Shutter Half of Port Talbot

Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp AG are looking at reducing the size of Britain’s largest steel plant in Port Talbot, Wales, industry sources told Reuters, as the two firms press ahead with merger plans for their European steel operations. The plan would also deal with the overcapacity afflicting the industry.

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The move could see one of Port Talbot’s two blast furnaces shut, halving the plant’s capacity. Up to 4,000 people are employed at the site.

It may be strong political lobbying or maybe a perception that the industry is crucial for economic development, but the aerospace and shipping industries have certainly avoided the worst of environmental regulation over the last decade or so.

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The energy and heavy industry sectors have borne the brunt of what some would call over-regulation. But that’s all about to change. 191 Countries gathered in Montréal last week to adopt a global market-based system to tackle the rise of carbon emissions from international air travel an article in the Telegraph explains.

Offset Market

Under the new deal, airlines will be expected to offset their emissions growth after 2020 by buying “offset credits” in line with their carbon footprint, the terms of the agreement layout. The carbon costs are expected to incentivize the industry to develop lower carbon fuels and more efficient technologies, according to the newspaper. Read more

Today in Metalcrawler, a major construction project in Washington will eventually require 33,000 tons of steel and a powerful lawmaker wants to tie the Highway Trust Fund to a trade bill.

Boeing 777X Plant Requires Giant Steel Trusses

About 33,000 tons of steel are needed to build the $1 billion Boeing 777X wing plant in Washington state. The building is 1,200 feet long and has two open spans of 420 feet wide and 460 feet wide.

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To support those spans, 45-foot-deep steel girders are being used. At any moment 50 trucks are on the road bringing steel to the site from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado.

The $1 billion, 1.3-million-square-foot building will be where Boeing fabricates carbon composite spars and skins for the 777X wings.

Pelosi Wants to Link Trade, Highway Bills

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats would be more likely to support the controversial trade bill that was defeated on Friday if Republicans would support a long-term transportation funding package, the Hill reported.

Pelosi helped sink President Obama’s trade package in a Friday vote by announcing her opposition, but she also signaled she wants Republicans to consider a deal involving highway funding in a letter to her conference. The Highway Trust Fund was extended through the end of July recently but both parties have said they desire a long-term deal that will fund federal highway maintenance through at least the next five years.

Congress has been grappling with a shortfall in transportation spending that is estimated to be about $16 billion per year, and they have not passed an infrastructure package that lasts longer than two years since 2005.

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Okay, so who’s the most successful aircraft maker in the world? Yes I know it’s a silly question, it depends on how you define successful but the two behemoths, Airbus and Boeing, have just released numbers for the fourth quarter that top off their 2014 performance.

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The FT reports Airbus hit a new production record to supply 629 aircraft in 2014, marking 13 consecutive years of increased deliveries. Not to be outdone, Boeing delivered 723 aircraft in the period, making the US group the world’s largest manufacturer of aircraft for the third year in a row. So colors to Boeing then? Well, not quite because according to the Telegraph Airbus booked 1,456 net new orders for its aircraft in 2014 – net aircraft being new orders less cancellations, their second-best year ever and down only 3% on 2013 when they sold 1,503 aircraft.


Not THAT kind of dogfight! Source:

Boeing, by comparison, booked 1,432 new orders in 2014 so, counting new orders, Airbus came out on top. Both firms have massive forward-order books, or a backlog on deliveries depending on how you want to term it. This is great for suppliers, both mills and distributors, who can see a book of business stretching off into the future. No wonder aluminum extrusion and plate mills capable of meeting the requirements of the aerospace industry are investing with more confidence in capacity and supply chain logistics than any other – with the notable exception of automotive which, like aerospace, appears to be on a long-term growth trend for aluminum consumption.

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aluminum warehouse stocks

Quite a summer for the light, gray metal – Goldman Sachs getting in hot water with LME warehousing, Boeing giving aluminum a vote of confidence, and prices still underperforming for the most part.

How Boeing Buys Aluminum: Metal Prices and Raw Material Cost

  • We did a Q&A with Jeff Carpenter, Senior Procurement Manager, Raw Materials, of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Supplier Management

How Aluminum Producers Profit from the LME Warehousing Scheme

  • We broke down an exclusive look at how Alcoa Inc. and other primary producers make bank, not just Goldman Sachs

And we showed you exactly how aluminum trickles from upstream down – and how the LME warehouses used to supply secondary producers:

LME warehouse scheme infographic

The Boeing Company, long known for its extensive supply chain management practices (not counting the recent 787 Dreamliner debacle), is one US-based OEM that can teach us a lot about metals procurement.

Procurement of the raw materials that go into the aerospace OEM’s products, including but certainly not limited to aluminum and titanium and its alloys, is quite a job considering the thousands of parts that go into a typical Boeing aircraft. And the competition spurred by newly developed materials, such as plastic and carbon fiber composites, give the old dogs a run for their money.

One old dog, in this case, is aluminum.

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Recently, at the Paris Air Show, Boeing CEO Ray Connor “defended the use of traditional aluminum metal for the fuselage of its upgraded 777 twin-aisle jet as Airbus SAS (EAD)’s A350, a competing model made chiefly of composite plastic,” made its first test flight just before the show began. Connor told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that “using the existing 777 production system is part of Chicago-based Boeing’s strategy to reduce the cost of airplane development.”

These costs of airplane development, and how aluminum procurement by Boeing as a major OEM reflects their management of suppliers and supply chain, are naturally what MetalMiner is interested in. So we did a Q&A with Jeff Carpenter, Senior Procurement Manager, Raw Materials, of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Supplier Management:

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The Boeing Company knows a thing or two about managing supply chain risk.

(After all, they had to manage the fallout of the 787 Dreamliner battery boof.)

In all seriousness, however, as a friend of MetalMiner once put it: “While far from perfect, I can’t think of a company that has done a better job putting in place the systems and processes to monitor and managing each node in the supply chain. For example, Boeing buys mountains of titanium and aluminum to ensure that raw materials are never the reason a part is late. How many aircraft manufacturers can say the same?”

Jeff Carpenter, senior procurement manager, raw materials, of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Supplier Management, spoke to that sentiment in Part One of MetalMiner’s Q&A with him, specifically on how Boeing goes about buying their aluminum.

In this second half of the Q&A, Jeff gets into Boeing’s supplier relationship management:

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Source: The Economist

“Psst, Aluminum – watch your back, yo.”

That seems to be what plastic composites are saying more and more often these days, from General Motors’ old Saturn lines (remember those?) to Airbus’ new A350s.

Boeing Co. has defended aluminum metal as its fuselage material of choice for the new 777X that the company is building, but who knows how long the light, gray metal will be in favor – especially in the aerospace industry, where jet fuel is pretty darn costly and weight savings are just as imperative, if not more so, than in automotive lightweighting.

“Psst, Steel – you’re toast.”

Now, Finland-developed technology using carbon fiber in elevator cables is threatening to replace heavier steel cable in new skyscrapers, according to an article in the Economist. According to Johannes de Jong, Kone’s head of technology for large projects, “the steel ropes in a 400-metre-high lift weigh about 18,650kg. An UltraRope for such a lift would weigh 1,170kg. Altogether, the lift using the UltraRope would weigh 45% less than the one with the steel rope,” according to the article.

However, there’s a silver lining here for both aluminum and steel.

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