The Ukraine crisis may help Boeing take the lead as an aircraft manufacturer worldwide. In the last few years, Boeing has suffered a fair bit of criticism due to several issues, like the grounding of the 737 MAX, after a few crashes that have killed 346 people in total and also due to a few issues in the plant responsible for the production of the Dreamliner, in South Carolina.
But according to an article published in the World of Aviation which is also based on another article published on The Conversation, the company may be about to take the lead again.
Titanium is an essential resource for aviation manufacturing
Aircraft need to be lightweight, for several reasons, first, if an aircraft is too heavy it won’t fly, secondly because of fuel consumption. That means the industry relies heavily on lightweight materials such as titanium. Apart from being light titanium also has other great properties, such as high strength and heat resistance, which makes it perfect for aviation. It is used in several essential parts of the aircraft including the airframe and landing gear. The main problem here is that titanium is scarce and to make matters worse, and also according to the article, 16% of titanium comes from Russia and Ukraine. The current situation involving both countries will mean difficulties for aircraft manufacturers. Or maybe not!
Boeing has been protecting itself for 8 years
According to the article, Boeing understood the importance of this material and more importantly, the importance of supplier diversification. Apparently, in 2014 when there was the Russian invasion of Crimea, Boeing took two important steps to guarantee its future. The first step was to start stockpiling titanium and the second was to start looking for other suppliers.
This year, and after the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, Boeing is not worried about supply. The article says that the company published a statement at the beginning of March reassuring its clients that they have enough supply due to its great inventory and diversity of suppliers.
Boeing may take the lead
The current crisis in Ukraine and associated disruption in supply may help Boeing to take the lead as the number one aircraft manufacturer. The article says that other main manufacturers like Airbus and Embraer rely heavily on Russian supplies. The article claims that Airbus buys about 50 to 65% of its titanium from Russia, whilst smaller manufacturer Embraer gets 100% of its supply from that country. The article also claims that Boeing only relies on Russia for 35% of its supply.
Boeing has suspended its titanium trade with Russia following the invasion and subsequent sanctions imposed on the country. Even though the metal is not yet covered by US sanctions. The fact that Boeing has sufficient supply to carry on their activities and fulfil their contracts may mean they will be better prepared to face this crisis. If supply issues force other manufacturers to stop or heavily disrupt their production, that may mean airlines may look elsewhere for their contracts and that may be an advantage for the American manufacturer.