According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Boeing has suspended buying titanium from Russia.
Titanium producer VSMPO-Avisma has been a Boeing partner and supplier of raw material and titanium parts through a series of long-term purchasing agreements dating back to 1997, when Boeing awarded its first contract to the Russian titanium producer.
Boeing and VSMPO-Avisma formalized a joint venture to produce rough titanium forgings for the 787 in 2007. The equally owned operation, called Ural Boeing Manufacturing, built an 8,900-square-meter plant in Verkhnyaya Salda, Russia, the town in the Ural Mountains where VSMPO-Avisma is headquartered. The venture began production in July 2009. In September 2018, the venture was expanded with the opening of a second Ural Boeing Manufacturing production facility.
In January 2021, the partners signed a long-term contract for the supply of titanium products. The contract stipulates that VSMPO-Avisma will supply Boeing and its suppliers with titanium forgings to meet the requirements to manufacture civil aircraft of various models, specifically Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, 777, 767, and 737 airplanes. VSMPO-Avisma said that Ural Boeing Manufacturing would machine many of these forgings at its facility in Russia.
According to the WSJ report, Boeing gets about a third of its titanium supply from Russia.
The decision is expected to further exacerbate supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic. Boeing has been stockpiling the metal as part of a strategy to limit supply chain disruptions, which should allow it to weather any short-term disturbances. However, this issue could delay pending increases to aircraft production rates as new suppliers need to be found and vetted.