AKRON-Goodyear has tripled production of radial aircraft tires at its Danville, Va., facility via a $10 million expansion that added manufacturing space and a new tire-building system.
The production hike is the Akron-based tire maker's second major demand-driven ramp-up in aircraft tires this year. In January, Goodyear resumed production of the tires at its Sao Paulo, Brazil, plant to meet needs in that country as well as other global locations.
The expansion includes a space increase of 12,500 square feet at the 2.1 million-sq.-ft. facility and the addition of tire-building machinery and presses, a Good-year spokesman said. He would not say how many tires the Danville plant would produce with the expansion, but the capacity has been reported at about 13,000 radial and bias-ply medium truck and aircraft tires per day.
The production increase began last month, the company said. The bulk of the radial aircraft tires made in Danville are marked for the U.S., while the remainder will be exported, the spokesman said.
Goodyear is manufacturing medium to large radial tires with its new machinery for commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, the company said. Boeing Co. and Airbus Industrie are the largest aircraft makers in the world. The plant also serves the military and general aviation sectors, Goodyear said.
``This new capacity is a direct response to the growth of the radial segment of the aviation marketplace,'' said Alex Dumm, Goodyear general manager for global aviation products. ``Radialization is beginning to happen because of the advantages of radial tires.''
Goodyear bills its Flight Radial-brand commercial aircraft tires as weighing 10 to 20 percent less than comparable bias-ply tires and having less rolling resistance; extra load-carrying capacity; more landings per tread and overall reduced operating costs.
Still, radial tires make up only about 10 percent of the aircraft tires sold in North and South America, and only between 10 and 20 percent in most other markets.
``Bias-ply tires continue to dominate the aviation marketplace,'' Mr. Dumm said. ``This is because of their long record of safety, dependability and performance and the significant cost of qualifying radial tires for aircraft already in service.''
While the Goodyear spokesman said ``a changeover has begun'' from bias-ply to radial aircraft tire production, he added that it will take time for the market to reflect it. In the meantime, Goodyear will continue to develop radial and bias-ply product offerings to meet varying demands, according to Mr. Dumm.
In addition to the Danville and Sao Paulo plants, Goodyear makes aviation tires at its Goodyear Thailand Ltd. factory in Bangkok.