Boeing expected to lay out new contract terms for suppliers

By Dan Catchpole

Danieljcatchpole[at]gmail[dot]com

Oct. 16, 2018, © Leeham News: Puget Sound-area Boeing suppliers are anxiously awaiting an Oct. 30th meeting at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The aerospace giant has invited dozens of suppliers to the meeting.

Attendees have been required to sign non-disclosure forms in advance, though Boeing has been tight-lipped about what exactly it plans to discuss with them. Each company has been limited to sending only two representatives, according to several suppliers attending the meeting.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a machine shop or a big (tier one supplier), you can only send two people,” said an executive at a Puget Sound-area supplier. The supplier spoke on condition of not being named for fear of losing business with Boeing.

Boeing has indicated that the conference is to discuss sweeping changes to how the terms and structure of its supply chain contracts. But it has revealed few details, according to executives at two suppliers.

“You know it’s bad if they won’t tell you what it’s about,” one of the executives said.

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Suppliers are paying more, waiting longer for aluminum and other materials

By Dan Catchpole

 danieljcatchpole(at)gmail(dot)com

An infographic highlights the role of aluminum in commercial aircraft production. (Image via Google Images)

Oct. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: United States-based aerospace suppliers say lead times and prices have significantly increased for aluminum, steel and other high-grade materials used to make commercial and military aircraft. But, they say, they have taken the increases in stride.

Aerospace suppliers based outside the U.S. generally have been less affected by the increases in lead times and prices for high-grade aluminum and steel, which President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on in March.

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Suppliers chafe at Boeing’s demand for costly certifications

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Introduction

By Dan Catchpole

 danieljcatchpole(at)gmail(dot)com

September 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s insistence that more and more subcontractors meet stringent aerospace manufacturing standards risks adding cost and reducing flexibility to the supply chain, several direct and indirect Boeing suppliers tell LNC.

The aerospace giant is requiring more second and third tier suppliers have AS9100 certification. Until recent years, OEMs and their direct suppliers typically were the only companies that formally complied with AS9100.

Subcontractors were expected to conform to the standards, but did not have to formally comply with the requirements. Doing so is expensive and time consuming. Subcontractors’ work was covered by the Tier 1 suppliers’ or Boeing’s AS9100 certification.

The AS9100 standards were adopted in the late 1990s to improve and standardize quality management throughout the increasingly global aerospace industry.

Summary
  • Boeing pushing more subcontractors to be AS9100 certified, according to suppliers.
  • That risks adding cost and reducing flexibility in supply chain.
  • Some suppliers worry it’s a prelude to more cost cutting.

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UTC Aerospace Systems sees big benefits from additive manufacturing

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Introduction

By Dan Catchpole

August 20, 2018, © Leeham News: There is a fundamental tension in aerospace’s DNA.

UTC Aerospace Systems’ executive Paula Hay is leading the aerospace supplier’s adoption of additive manufacturing. (Image via LinkedIn)

It has been there since Kitty Hawk: Balancing the hunger to push technological boundaries with the desire to stay safe.

The Wright Flyer only flew after years of painstakingly testing airframes and engines. That tension between being bold and being safe is evident today in commercial aerospace’s adoption of additive manufacturing.

Just about every major player in the aerospace industry is exploring additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Most of the integration has been at the margins. The technology is still young enough that there is no clear leader in its application to aerospace. Everyone is trying to find how to get the most from it.

Summary

  • Begin with mechanical, not structural systems.
  • Big parts reductions.
  • Big reduction in lead time.

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