Scaling-Up Technology that Cuts Weight of Highest-Volume Blades by 20 Percent and Enhances Aerodynamic Performance for Increased Fuel Efficiency
- $25 million technology investment to produce lighter, primarily nickel-based airfoil blades for industry’s best-selling jet engines
- Will use advanced manufacturing technologies including robotics and digital x-ray
- 75 new employees over three years
Leading aerospace manufacturer Alcoa (NYSE: AA) is expanding in Virginia to capture demand for next-generation aircraft engine parts. The Company is investing $25 million at its Alcoa Power and Propulsion facility in Hampton, Virginia to scale-up a breakthrough process technology that cuts the weight of its highest-volume jet engine blades by 20 percent and significantly improves aerodynamic performance.
“We are deploying a state-of-the-art technology that will significantly improve the performance of some of the best-selling jet engines in the world,” said Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld. “This technology and investment further demonstrate how Alcoa is executing on our strategy to aggressively capture demand in the fast-growing aerospace market.”
Alcoa will add equipment for a new production line and modify existing machinery at the Hampton facility to produce the blades. The Company will use the latest in advanced manufacturing technology such as robotics and digital x-ray for enhanced product inspection. The expansion will begin this month and is expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of 2015. The Company expects to add at least 75 new, full-time employees over three years.
Alcoa developed this process technology, called enhanced equiax (EEQ) casting, following five years of research and development at the Alcoa Power and Propulsion Research Center in Whitehall, MI. The Alcoa Technical Center, the world’s largest light metals research and development center based outside of Pittsburgh, PA, also supported this work. Made primarily using nickel-based superalloys, the lighter and more aerodynamically efficient blades can be used to retrofit existing or build next-generation aircraft engines, such as the latest engines for large commercial aircraft, including narrow- and wide-body airplanes. Engines for narrow-body aircraft are among the top selling jet engines in the world.
“Alcoa has been a solid corporate institution in Hampton for 40 years, and this major investment in new technology and the launch of a new product line will ensure the longevity of its operation for decades to come,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Advanced manufacturing is thriving in Virginia, and expansions like this help to diversify our economy and grow jobs of the 21st century. This project is a great testament to Alcoa’s commitment to Virginia, and the advantages of the Commonwealth’s top-rate business environment that helps valued global companies succeed.”
Alcoa will receive approximately $2 million in state and local incentives and an additional $1.3 million exemption on sales and use tax for selecting Hampton, Virginia for this investment.
“Alcoa has been a longtime anchor employer in the City of Hampton. I am extremely pleased that Alcoa chose to expand in Hampton by adding a new advanced manufacturing product line that will generate high-paying jobs,” said Hampton Mayor George Wallace. “Hampton is an excellent city for new and expanding businesses. We are proud of our highly skilled workforce, friendly neighborhoods, excellent schools and quality of life that is incomparable.”
This investment supports Alcoa’s strategy of profitably growing its aerospace business, which had revenues totaling $4 billion in 2013. The Company holds leading market positions in aerospace forgings, extrusions, jet engine airfoils and fastening systems and is a leading supplier of structural castings made of titanium, aluminum and nickel-based superalloys, which are produced by its downstream business, Engineered Products and Solutions (EPS). The Company also holds leading market positions in aerospace sheet and plate produced by its midstream business, Global Rolled Products (GRP). The Company’s value-add businesses, comprising EPS and GRP, accounted for 58 percent of Alcoa's first quarter 2014 revenues and 76 percent of the Company’s total segment after-tax operating income.
Additional resources: Go to http://www.alcoa.com/hampton for more information, photos and b-roll.
Alcoa in Virginia
Alcoa's Hampton facility currently employs 650 people who operate two production lines that produce turbine blades for the power generation market and large nickel and titanium structural castings for aerospace engines. In addition, the Alcoa Fastening Systems business has a sales office in Leesburg and Alcoa's Building and Construction Systems business has a drafting and engineering support office in Harrisonburg.
Reinforcing Alcoa’s commitment to Virginia, and in celebration of the expansion, the Alcoa Foundation has agreed to grant $40,000 to a local nonprofit organization that supports the Alcoa Foundation’s goals of promoting education, including the development of advanced manufacturing skills and environmental sustainability. The Foundation expects to announce the organization that will receive the grant this summer.
A global leader in lightweight metals engineering and manufacturing, Alcoa innovates multi-material solutions that advance our world. Our technologies enhance transportation, from automotive and commercial transport to air and space travel, and improve industrial and consumer electronics products. We enable smart buildings, sustainable food and beverage packaging, high-performance defense vehicles across air, land and sea, deeper oil and gas drilling and more efficient power generation. We pioneered the aluminum industry over 125 years ago, and today, our 60,000 people in 30 countries deliver value-add products made of titanium, nickel and aluminum, and produce best-in-class bauxite, alumina and primary aluminum products. For more information, visit www.alcoa.com, follow @Alcoa on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Alcoa and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Alcoa.
This release contains statements that relate to future events and expectations and as such constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include those containing such words as “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “plans,” “projects,” “should,” “could,” “may,” “seeks,” “targets,” “will,” or other words of similar meaning. All statements that reflect Alcoa’s expectations, assumptions or projections about the future other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding Alcoa’s strategy, objectives, expectations, and intentions regarding growing its aerospace capabilities and business; the improvement in performance of jet engines achieved by Alcoa’s advanced manufacturing and process technologies; and the expected timing for completion of expansion of Alcoa’s Hampton, Virginia facility and increase in employment levels. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors and are not guarantees of future performance. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements include: unfavorable changes in the markets served by Alcoa, including the aerospace market; failure to successfully implement, or to realize expected benefits from, new technologies, processes, equipment or innovative products, whether due to competitive developments, changes in the regulatory environment, trends and developments in the aerospace, metals engineering, and manufacturing sectors, or other factors; and the other risk factors discussed in Alcoa’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013 and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Alcoa disclaims any intention or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether in response to new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.