Kobe Steel Ltd. said Monday it has begun supplying titanium to Rolls-Royce PLC of Britain for use in the engine of the Airbus A380 — the world’s biggest passenger plane, which is due to enter commercial service in 2006.

Kobe Steel said it launched shipments of titanium alloy rings in January to Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.

The latter processes the metal into intermediate pressure compressor casings to be delivered to Rolls-Royce for fabrication in its Trent 900 engine for the Airbus A380.

The Trent 900 engine is the launch engine for the 555-seat Airbus A380 and will be used in 48 percent of the aircraft already on order.

Thus far, Airbus has 129 firm orders for the A380, Kobe Steel said on the basis of data from Rolls-Royce.

Kobe Steel added that it is also supplying Rolls-Royce with titanium forgings used in high-pressure compressor disks for the IAE V2500 engine, the engine of choice for Airbus A320 family aircraft.

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