Alcoa is expanding in Virginia to capture demand for next-generation aircraft engine parts. The company will invest $25 million at its Alcoa Power and Propulsion facility in Hampton, Va., to scale-up a breakthrough process technology that cuts the weight of its highest-volume jet engine blades by 20% and improves aerodynamic performance. Alcoa will add equipment for a new production line and modify existing machinery at the facility. The expansion, which should be complete by the fourth quarter of 2015, is expected to create 75 new, full-time jobs over three years.
Alcoa developed this process technology, called enhanced equiax (EEQ) casting, after five years of research and development at the Alcoa Power and Propulsion Research Center in Whitehall, Mich. Made primarily using nickel-based superalloys, the lighter and more aerodynamically efficient blades can be used to retrofit existing or build next-generation aircraft engines, such as the latest engines for large commercial aircraft, including narrow- and wide-body airplanes.