Alcoa Develops Breakthrough Technologies That Lower Cost, Weight and Production Risk of New Airplanes

June 9, 2011

New Alcoa Alloys and Advanced Structural

Provide Up to 10% in weight savings over
composite-intensive planes;

Lower the cost to manufacture, operate and repair planes by
up to 30%
vs. composite- intensive planes… at significantly lower
production risk;

– Allow for a 12% increase in fuel efficiency, on top of the 15% from
new engines;

– Deliver passenger comfort features
equivalent to composite-intensive planes, such as higher cabin
pressure, large windows and higher humidity; and

– Market research shows 3 out of 4 in industry would recommend aluminum
for future primary aluminum structures.

NEW YORK & PITTSBURGH–Alcoa (NYSE:AA) today announced it has developed a completely new set of
aluminum-based solutions for the aerospace market that will allow
airframers to build dramatically lighter and lower-cost short-range
airplanes at significantly lower production risk than
composite-intensive planes.

The new solutions, which combine new alloys and advanced structural
technologies, use Alcoa sheet, plate, forgings and hard alloy extrusion
products across aircraft structures, including airplane wings and
fuselage elements. The new technologies:

lower the weight of the plane by up to 10%
vs. composite-intensive planes;

– lower the cost to manufacture, operate and repair planes by up
to 30% vs. composite-intensive planes, and at significantly lower
production risk;

– allow for a 12% increase in fuel efficiency, on top of the 15% from
new engines; and

– deliver passenger comfort features equivalent to composite-intensive
planes, such as higher cabin pressure, large windows and higher humidity.

“The decisions made in the past decade to build the first
composite-intensive aircraft were a huge wake-up call for us,” said Mick
Wallis, President of Alcoa North American Rolled Products who is
responsible for Alcoa’s aerospace sheet and plate products. “In
hindsight it was the right decision for the time – when advanced
aluminum solutions were not as developed — but our technology solutions
have made quantum leaps since those decisions.

“And it’s important to keep in mind that the mission requirements of
short-range airplanes are dramatically different than those of
longer-range planes,” added Wallis. “With these new solutions we are
confident we can add value to airframers in their short-range offerings,
just as we have proven with longer-range planes…and the market research
we’ve conducted says we are not alone in that belief.”

The combination of Alcoa solutions results in short range aircraft that
meet or exceed airframer targets for corrosion resistance, aerodynamic
drag, maintenance requirements, and fuel efficiency along with improved
buy-to-fly ratios. In fact, the improvements developed by Alcoa for a
new short-range aircraft can generate up to a 12% increase in fuel
efficiency on top of the 15% improvement from new engines.

Included in the new solutions portfolio are advanced alloys and
third-generation aluminum lithium alloys that result in up to 7% lower
density in major structural applications along with critically important
corrosion resistance. Alcoa’s most-recent aluminum lithium alloys were
selected for large commercial aircraft plate applications and are being
used on planes about to enter the marketplace. These newest aluminum
lithium alloys provide additional enhanced performance.

New improvements in aerodynamics for skin sheet developed by Alcoa
reduce skin friction drag by up to 6%. In addition, new advanced
structural technologies using forged, extruded, and rolled products
enable increased wing aspect ratio for improved fuel savings, provide up
to 10 times the damage tolerance vs. conventional alloys, and allow
increased cabin pressurization for enhanced passenger comfort, on par
with all new aircraft structures in development today.

“As we began work on these new solutions, we wanted to ensure they
contribute to all four phases of a plane’s life cycle,” said Eric
Roegner, President of Alcoa Forgings and Extrusions. “In the first
phase, when it is built, we will lower manufacturing and assembly costs
and reduce program risks for the airframer through established high
volume supply chains and reduced investment requirements via existing
infrastructure…and aircraft operators want the reduced risk associated
with timely delivery.

“In the second phase, when customers fly the plane, the lower weight and
aerodynamic technologies will increase fuel efficiency by up to 12% on
their own and up to 27% when new engines are factored in,” said Roegner.

Wallis added, “In the third phase, as airlines maintain the plane, we
will lower costs because of enhanced corrosion resistance that helps
with emerging inspection interval requirements. And, in the last phase
— the end of life or retirement of the plane — aluminum’s infinite
recyclability puts it head and shoulders above other materials in that
it can be turned back into useful products again and again.”

Research Findings

In addition to the positive reception the new solutions are receiving
from airframers wrestling with material choices, Alcoa conducted market
research across the industry – including tier one players, airlines,
maintenance/MRO and other leasing companies – to determine perceptions
of choice for primary structure applications, outscoring composites in

Perhaps most telling, the more people understood the details, the more
favorably they viewed aluminum for next generation aircraft structures
vs. composites. Nearly 3 out of 4 of the technical and design
respondents surveyed had a favorable perception of aluminum as the
primary structural material for new aircraft vs. 54% for composites.
Among management and commercial constituencies, the results showed the

When the ultimate question was asked — how likely would you be to
recommend Alcoa’s solutions if they could deliver a 10% weight
reduction, lower risk, and were 30% less expensive to manufacture,
operate and maintain — 75% of respondents said they would recommend
aluminum structures.

About Alcoa Aerospace

Alcoa Aerospace is comprised of 4 businesses with operations across the
world totaling approximately $3 billion in revenues and #1 share
positions in their markets: Alcoa Global Rolled Products and Alcoa
Forgings and Extrusions serving the structures market; and Alcoa
Fastening Systems and Alcoa Power and Propulsion. Alcoa’s aerospace
solutions run from nose to tail and from wing-tip to wing-tip. Alcoa has
been at the forefront of every major milestone in aerospace history
based on its commitment to continually innovate and a “beyond materials”
philosophy – where materials, structures, and designs work in concert to
provide optimal solutions for customers.