The aluminium will be used to make multiple sets of COMAC's C919 test planes using both conventional aluminium alloys and advanced high-damage tolerance aluminium alloy. The latter will be used on the lower wing covers for a single-aisle commercial aircraft as part of the COMAC C919 programme.

John Zhu, Aleris' senior vice president, who is also president of Aleris China, said that the announcement represented an important step forward for the company that hopes to capitalise on the growing Asian aerospace industry.

Aluminium for the C919 will initially come from Aleris' Koblenz, Germany, plant, but will eventually be sourced from the Zhenjiang facility, which is currently under construction. The new US$350m plant comes on stream in early 2013 and is designed to meet regional and global aerospace demand in the region.

With production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, Aleris employs 7,300 people globally and is a leading producer of rolled and extruded products.

Aleris is also a leading player in aluminium recycling and specification alloy manufacturing.