CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Constellium's Ravenswood plant will be a key supplier for new Airbus jet parts under a $2 billion multi-year agreement announced Thursday.
Under the agreement, Constellium will supply Airbus and its parent company, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., with a broad range of aluminum products for aircraft frames in all of its key commercial and defense aircraft models.
"This agreement is a significant accomplishment for Constellium," Christophe Villemin, president of the Global Aerospace Division, said in a company press release. "Through our partnership, we have a unique opportunity to work even more closely with Airbus to further develop innovative aluminum processes and designs."
EADS is one of the world's largest commercial and defense aircraft manufacturers, and Airbus alone produces more than half of the world's commercial jet airliners.
The collaboration will focus on the evolution of the Airbus A320 family of medium-range commercial jet airliners. Both Constellium and Airbus are working on ways to build aluminum aircraft in ways that reduce fuel consumption and maintenance.
Company officials say recent improvements at the Ravenswood aluminum rolling mill were a critical aspect in securing the new deal.
Last year, the company invested $46 million to upgrade the aluminum stretcher at the plant. The machine pulls large aluminum plates like a rubber band to flatten them or relieve stress in the metal.
The new stretcher is the largest and most powerful of its kind in the world.
"The 30-million-pound stretcher in Ravenswood is a critical piece of equipment offering unique capabilities that are complementary to the other Constellium rolling mills located in Issoire, France, and Sierre, Switzerland," company spokeswoman Laura Berneri said.
"Ensuring the long capability and reliability of the very large 30-million pound stretcher in Ravenswood gives (Airbus and EADS) confidence in the ability of Constellium to execute the contract," she said.
The company said in a statement announcing the deal that the three plants "offer the perfect combination of capabilities to provide the full spectrum of products and secure Airbus and EADS requirements."
The Issoire plant will manufacture the longest, 34-meter wing panels, but Berneri said the Ravenswood plant would produce many of the other wide and thick aluminum products covered under the contract.