Guide to the Aerospace Supply Chain Tiers

A knowledge of aerospace supply chain tiers is essential to understanding aerospace manufacturing. This incredibly complex industry can require the cooperation of thousands of companies for the production of a single product, such as an airplane. The tier supplier network helps simplify the process and organize the interactions among aerospace suppliers. 

This article will review the supply chain tiers in aerospace manufacturing. We'll also look at the requirements to join the supplier tiers and the benefits of participating in the aerospace supply chain. 

What Is the Aerospace Supply Chain?

The aerospace supply chain is all of the different aerospace parts manufacturing companies that work together to create an end product. At the top of the chain are the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Aerospace OEMs are responsible for completing the finished product. These include companies like: 

  • Airbus
  • BAE Systems
  • Boeing
  • General Dynamics
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Raytheon

The final product could be anything from commercial aircraft and military planes to space vehicles or missiles. Aerospace OEMs supply products for defense programs, airlines like Delta or United and private jet companies like Cessna or Beechcraft.

The aerospace supply chain for a single product is highly complicated. For instance, 1,500 companies from 30 countries contribute 4 million parts to create the Airbus A380 airplane.

What Are the Aerospace Supply Chain Tiers?

There are three aerospace supply chain tiers. Each tier is numbered based on its closeness to the OEM at the top of the chain. 

Tier 1 Suppliers

A Tier 1 supplier works the most closely with the OEM, providing systems directly to the company. Tier 1 aerospace suppliers manufacture products like:

  • Engines
  • Control systems
  • Landing gear
  • Breaking systems
  • Flight decks
  • Interior cabin products

Tier 1 manufacturing also can include highly complex products like electronic warfare systems.

Tier 1 suppliers are the linchpins of the aerospace supply chain. They ensure all companies work together and keep the manufacturing process rolling.

Tier 2 Suppliers

A tier 2 supplier manufactures the subassemblies that it provides to a tier 1 supplier. These products can include:

  • Airfoils
  • Missle nose cones
  • Tires
  • Airframe structures
  • Flight controls
  • Transmissions

Tier 2 suppliers are typically smaller and less technologically advanced than tier 1 suppliers. However, they play a crucial role in the aerospace supply chain, ensuring products move quickly to the next phase.

Tier 3 Suppliers

A tier 3 supplier manufactures the parts and components that tier 2 suppliers use to create their subassemblies. They make products like:

  • Hydraulic fittings
  • Hoses
  • Tubing
  • Instrumentaion fittings
  • High-stregth pins and fasteners

Tier 3 suppliers can frequently produce thousands of parts a day.

AERospace Supply Chain Requirements

A company must comply with various regulations to participate in the aerospace supply chain. Chief among these is compliance with AS9100. This quality standard ensures products meet stringent metrics concerning conformity, quality, reliability and safety. 

Many aerospace industry members also must be certified to the U.S. State Department's International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These policies govern imports, exports and sales of defense-related products to and from certain countries. 

Aerospace Supply Chain Benefits

A well-run aerospace supply chain provides numerous advantages. When properly organized, the three aerospace supply chain tiers can:

  • Increase transparency into the manufacturing process
  • Improve quality control
  • Boost efficiency
  • Mitigate ethical and legal issues
  • Product against cybersecurity threats
  • Expand sustainability efforts
  • Augment social responsibility programs

Trust Your Aerospace Component Needs to Bescast

Bescast offers all the capabilities you expect from a tier 1 supplier. Our extensive expertise makes us an essential player in the aerospace supply chain. Bescast's aerospace manufacturing experience provides distinct advantages for our customers. Our investment casting process offers design flexibility, minimal material waste, extremely close tolerances and much more. Contact us today to learn what Bescast can do for you.