Boeing launches new manufacturing unit in Russia, under the radar

Russia’s VSMPO-Avisma, the world’s largest titanium producer, and U.S. planemaker Boeing have launched a second manufacturing unit in Urals, not far from Yekaterinburg. 

It will focus on titanium forgings for Boeing commercial airplane programs including the 737 MAX, the 787 Dreamliner family and the 777X. The new unit will operate alongside an existing JV between Boeing and VSMPO-AVISMA which has produced titanium forgings since 2009. VSMPO-AVISMA supplies Boeing with titanium on long-term contracts covering of around 35 percent of Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ demand for the metal.

The new facility is located in Titanium Valley, a special economic zone. The investment amounts to 5.5 billion roubles ($83 million), around 200 jobs will be created.

Amid the ongoing political tension between the USA and Russia, neither of the venture’s partners publicised the high-profile event which took place a few days ago, even though it was attended by a high-ranking American delegation, including John Huntsman, the USA’s ambassador in Russia, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing International president Marc Allen and Boeing Russia/CIS president Sergey Kravchenko. The only initial clue came from Evgeny Kuyashev, governor of the Sverdlovsk region, who posted a photo on his Instagram account.

In April, after the United States imposed a new round of sanctions on Moscow, Russian lawmakers called for an end to supplies of titanium to Boeing as a reciprocal measure. However, the proposal was not accepted by the government.