Airbus To Stop Buying Russian Titanium Within Months
Airbus Defence and Space CEO Michael Schoellhorn
MUNICH—Airbus will cease procuring titanium from Russian suppliers in what is now a matter of months, according to Michael Schoellhorn, Airbus Defence and Space CEO.
Airbus is still procuring an unspecified percentage of Russian titanium. While Airbus’ defense activities no longer use Russian titanium, the process is ongoing in the commercial business, he says. While not giving a target date, Schoellhorn underlines the difficulty of the task. Certification issues make the transition complicated, he says.
If Airbus succeeds, it will have reorganized a critical supply chain in one year or so.
Titanium is a key ingredient in aircraft construction, typically in engine pylons and landing gears. Russian suppliers—VSMPO being the main one—filled 30-50% of Europe’s needs before the Russia-Ukraine war. The EU’s sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion have thus far spared Russian titanium.
For aircraft construction, titanium sponge needs to be qualified at aerospace grade. With that requirement as a framework, the countries that could replace Russia include Japan, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.
Another source may be recycling. French metallurgy specialist Aubert & Duval is in the process of starting up a titanium recycling factory in Clermont-Ferrand. The EcoTitanium facility is aiming at an annual output of 4,000 metric tons, or 15-20% of European aerospace and defense needs in semi-finished products and forged components.
(NOTE: This story has been edited for clarity)
Thierry Dubois has specialized in aerospace journalism since 1997. An engineer in fluid dynamics from Toulouse-based Enseeiht, he covers the French commercial aviation, defense and space industries. His expertise extends to all things technology in Europe. Thierry is also the editor-in-chief of Aviation Week’s ShowNews.