Light Alloys and Composites in Aviation.

Topics: Composite material, Fiberglass, Alloy Pages: 9 (3069 words) Published: November 3, 2012
Table of Contents

The use of Light Alloys in Aviation3
The use of Composites in Aviation4
Comparison between Light Alloys and Composites5
Aircraft Part Identification7
Example of Incorrect Part Installation9
Bibliography & Referencing12


Ever since the invention of aircraft, manufacturers have been uncovering new ways in which the main body of the aircraft and its internal components can be made lighter, which in effect, allows them to carry more passengers, fly faster and increase the range in which they can operate. As technology has improved materials can now be developed by re- arranging their atomic structure which, makes it possible for aircraft to reach new performance levels as well as lowering emissions. In this assignment I look at how selecting the right material for use benefits airlines and manufactures, before looking at how the wrong materials/ parts can result in disaster.

The use of Light Alloys in Aviation

A) Materials in aircraft need to be both extremely strong and lightweight, this makes light alloys an excellent category of materials to considered when manufacturing the aircraft. Magnesium and Aluminium are two metals that are both renowned for being lightweight. Although they are not incredibility strong when they are in their pure state, they can be alloyed which provides the material with more strength. The material for the main skin of the aircraft needs to be as strong as possible whilst being as light as possible. Duralumin is an alloy that is used extensively for aircraft skin, it is a Aluminium - Copper based alloy, with 93.5% Aluminium and 4.4% Copper in addition there are between 0.5% to 1.5% Magnesium and 0.5% to 1% Manganese, this alloy is also know as 2024 (1). Its not only the aircraft skin that is made from this specific type of Aluminium alloy, rivets that are used to hold skin panels together can also be made of 2024, however these are heat treated differently and have certain instructions for use. For example, when they are removed from cold storage they have to be used within twenty minutes (2) Page 501- 509. Rivets are also manufactured from a material known as Hidiminium, this is another example of a light alloy used for aircraft components, it has similar strength to steel making it useful for fasteners. Aircraft piping is another area in which Duralumin is employed, due to it being a soft material is it used for low pressure systems. Along with Aluminium, Magnesium alloys are also present in the aerospace industry. Magnesium alloys are known for there extreme lightness, they are alloyed with metals such as Zincronium, Zinc and Silver which give the alloy superb strength and shock resistance so they are extensively used for aircraft gear box castings (2) Page 107- 122 (3). A notable alloy is RZ5 (3) which with improved corrosion resistance has been selected as the material to use as the main skin on various helicopters such as Eurocopter EC120, this is because the lightness of the alloy benefits the helicopter as less power needs to be produced to create enough lift to make it airborne. Another area of use for Magnesium alloys is amongst the aircraft undercarriage, mainly the wheels. Its used in this area because of its ability to be easily cast into shape, the strength and weight are also beneficial as it means weight can be dramatically reduced in the undercarriage area.

The use of Composites in Aviation

B) Composites have only recently been introduced as the majority material to be used on aircraft, the preferred material was always a metal as manufactures thought this was the optimum material to use. However composites have now been made stronger and with their lightweight properties it becomes a new choice of material for many aircraft manufacturers. Composite materials play a huge part in construction of the worlds largest passenger airline the Airbus A380, between 22 and 23...
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