Every November, Industrial Heating focuses its editorial efforts on the aerospace industry, and this year is no different.

If there is one word that is synonymous with the aerospace industry, it’s Nadcap. And did you know that this audit turns 15 years old in 2016? Something that began as “just another quality audit” has evolved plenty over the years. Today, a Nadcap accreditation is considered the “gold standard” in aerospace heat treatment.

If you need proof, please read “An Auditor’s View on 15 Years of Nadcap Heat-Treatment Audits.” Martin Bridge of the Performance Review Institute (PRI) discusses just how much has changed in 15 years. He said it was normal to write more than 25 nonconformances during a four-day audit in the early days of Nadcap. Now, the average number of nonconformances is less than seven. The experienced auditor highlights the changes – from electronic recording to controllers – companies have made to improve their audit performances.

One reason for this improvement can clearly be linked to an increase in educational and training opportunities. For example, eQuaLearn recently offered free training sessions at the Nadcap meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., in late October. Courses offered included Introduction to PRI, Nadcap Audit Preparation and Nadcap Checklist Review. eQuaLearn, which was established by PRI, provides global industry-driven training to add value to the Nadcap program by improving the quality of personnel, products and processes. Visit their website at www.equalearn.com to learn more about educational and training opportunities.

Turning to the big picture, there’s been plenty of positive news from the aerospace industry in recent months.

  • Pratt & Whitney invested $65 million into an overhaul of its Columbus Engine Center in Georgia, which employs approximately 1,100 workers. The retooling is focused on the maintenance of the company’s PurePower Geared Turbofan engine.
  • The U.S. Air Force awarded contracts of almost $1 billion each to GE and Pratt & Whitney to develop a next-generation military jet engine.
  • Under a $470 million agreement, Alcoa will supply aluminum sheet and plate to Embraer. The materials will be used for the E2, a narrow-body medium-range jet airliner.
  • GE Aviation is investing more than $200 million to build two facilities in Alabama that will mass-produce silicon carbide materials, which are used to manufacture ceramic-matrix composite components for jet engines.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some “big” news out of a small town in western Pennsylvania. It’s there that Solar Atmospheres of Western PA unveiled the largest vacuum furnace in the world. This technological marvel would not have been possible without demand specifically from the aerospace industry. The 48-foot furnace currently processes seat tracks for Boeing and titanium forgings for the Airbus A350.

It’s almost impossible these days to talk about industry-related news without bringing additive manufacturing or 3D printing into the discussion. Aerospace is no different. For example, Norsk Titanium’s U.S. subsidiary will build and operate an industrial-scale metal additive-manufacturing plant in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Overseas, voestalpine Group opened a new research and development center for 3D printing of metal parts in Germany.