Subscribe
PLANT

Embraer eyes Bombardier with new Alcoa tech deal

Brazilian plane-maker announces technology sharing agreement with Alcoa to upgrade its current family of aircrafts


November 18, 2011
by The Canadian Press

MONTREAL—Embraer will team with U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa to make improvements to the fuselage and wings of the regional aircraft it sells to compete with Bombardier.

The Brazilian plane maker has decided against developing a plane to compete with Bombardier’s CSeries.

Instead, Embraer announced a technology sharing agreement using Alcoa’s proprietary aluminum alloys, design, manufacturing techniques and its fastener technologies to develop a new fuselage and wings for its current family of aircraft.

Embraer and Montreal-based Bombardier compete head to head primarily for regional jets with less than 120 seats.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa said the deal will “leverage Alcoa’s 100 years of aerospace technology experience and latest technology innovations to help Embraer develop high-performance aluminum aircraft.”

Among Alcoa’s arsenal are lightweight aluminum and aluminum lithium alloys.

In June, Alcoa launched new alloys and technologies it says will lower the weight, cost and maintenance of new aircraft compared with composites.

The CSeries, scheduled to enter service by the end of 2013, is substantially made from lightweight composite materials. The plane’s Pratt & Whitney engines promise 15 per cent lower operating costs and 20 per cent fuel burn savings.

But the challenges of developing a product with new technology has prompted industry observers to suggest CSeries deliveries will be delayed.

“Embraer is known for developing high-performance aircraft and we are pleased to have Alcoa join us to work on developing the next phase of solutions that will take performance to an even higher level for our customers,” said Jorge Ramos, Embraer’s vice-president of technology development.

Embraer sells commercial, business and defence aircraft. It has more than 17,000 employees and a firm order backlog of US$16 billion.

Alcoa’s aerospace business includes four units operating around the world that generates about $3 billion a year in revenues.