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New Structural Components Partner for 787

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India's Tata Motors unit to manufacture components for Boeing's Dreamliner February 06, 2008: 06:34 AM EST

MUMBAI, Feb. 6, 2008 (Thomson Financial delivered by Newstex) -- India's largest vehicle maker Tata Motors Ltd, part of the salt-to-software Tata Group, said its engineering solutions unit has signed an agreement with the Boeing (NYSE:BA) Company to supply structural components for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner airplane program.

No financial details were given.

In a release, Tata said wholly-owned TAL Manufacturing Solutions Ltd will build floor beams for the 787 using new technology with advanced titanium and composite materials.

The floor beams for the 787 airplane will be produced at TAL's new facility in the central Indian city of Nagpur and then transported to Boeing partners in Japan, Italy and the US for further assembly, it added.

This is extraordinarily significant at first glance. This appears to be one of the first steps in the 787 recovery plan. BCA Chairman and CEO Scott Carson is speaking later this morning to a group of aerospace analysts and I'm sure this will be on his agenda. The announcement of a new structural supplier this far into the program means that 1. Another supplier has been replaced or 2. Another supplier was unable to meet the initial demand for floor beams and this is a supplement. Either way, it's clear that a supplier has not been making the grade on floor beam production.

By the looks of this graphic, IAI appears to be the supplier in question. The Wall Street Journal authored a piece in December citing significant concerns by BCA leadership about IAI and Vought Aircraft Industries, both partners are directly responsible for structural components like the floor beams on the Dreamliner.

Look for more on this here as the day develops.

UPDATE 1:00 PM: Scott Carson did not mention any supplier changes in his speech to the Cowen & Co Conference.

UPDATE 12:12 AM: According to a source familiar with the agreement Tata will manufacture floor beams beginning with the 787-9 an 787-3. There has been no change to suppliers of floor beams for the 787-8. It remains unclear whether or not Tata will be working in conjunction with the current 787-8 suppliers to supplement production or be absorbing the current work package for the variant aircraft.

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