Aluminum’s strength and corrosion resistance make it a preferred material by manufacturers in aircraft and aerospace. While there are stronger and less corrosive metals, aluminum has the advantage of its lightweight. When these qualities are combined, you get a material that can make durable and multiple aircraft components. Besides, raw aluminum is refined through different processes to optimize it for aerospace use.
80% of airplane fuselages are made up of aluminum. The metal is relatively cheaper to acquire and this reduces production costs significantly. Besides, aluminum’s flexibility gives the design and production teams an easy time making complex shapes and being innovative.
The aluminum plate minimizes the plane’s density and increases its ability to resist corrosion. The aluminum plate has a high strength that makes it the best for making lower wings of the plane, frames, and beams among others. Spars and ribs are also made of these aluminum plates.
The plates can be designed to offer high damage tolerance. This gives the aerospace vessel the power to handle the impact. Besides, plates give the plane weight-saving potential. For that reason¸ it can easily take off and rise against gravity as it travels to space.
Weight-critical applications in aircraft require weldable components. This is because airplanes are made by combining different parts. This combination makes a vessel that will face a lot of friction during speedy movements. The plates also have fracture toughness that allows the joined parts to stick together even when under speed, pressure, or high humidity.
Extruded Aluminum Profiles & Aluminum Tubes
Aluminum is heated with other components and then hydraulically pressed to form special shapes like round, hollow square, channel shapes, Z, T, I, L, and H shapes. These are special aluminum extruded parts combined to make lasting airplane or aircraft parts. The weight aspect is factored in to manufacture huge yet light aerospace vessels.
Different aluminum alloys are deployed in the development stage. This is because different aircraft components demand varying details in their operations. Therefore, they must be made using specific property requirements.
Hard Alloy Cold Finished Bar/Rod
These aluminum rods or bars help to make gears and shafts. Besides, the alloying process has aesthetic importance as well as improves the product’s size.
Aluminum’s performance under imperfect conditions tends to reduce. For that reason, it must be improvised to reduce its exposure to these conditions. Aluminum wires also have a higher conductivity-to-weight ratio. Therefore, Aluminum metal is preferred for making some of the airplane parts.
Aluminum Sheet and Coil
Aluminum sheets and coils are used to make airplane bodies and other parts. The sheets and coils have high tensile strength and are readily available as well as lightweight. These qualities make the sheets most suitable for the parts they’re used to making.
Aluminum In Aircraft Sections
An airplane body can be categorized into 5 major sections. These two are joined together to form one massive body that travels in space carrying people, luggage, and any other assignment. Here are the sections, their components, and how aluminum plays an important role in their development and performance.
Aluminum In Fuselage
This is the outer shell of an aircraft also considered the body. It’s the biggest part of an airplane and is designed uniquely to serve its purpose. It provides the aerodynamics an aircraft needs to move to space. Besides, the shape of a plane is determined by how the fuselage looks like.
The shape, weight, and material of a fuselage are determined by considering a lot of factors. For instance, a plane that will be used to carry hundreds of people will have different conditions to that which carries two or four. A luggage aircraft will also have different considerations compared to a fighter jet or spaceship.
The plane’s body has several parts attached to it including floor beams, seat tracks, bulkheads, and door components. Other aluminum made parts attached to the fuselage include cargo floor beams and rivet fastener stock among others.
The fuselage stretches from the front of the aircraft to the back. And it’s the core section of the plane that attaches to all the others. The use of aluminum and its weldability features makes it possible to connect these other sections to the fuselage.
Aluminum In Engine and Fairing
The fuselage, wings, and engines are linked. Below the wing is an engine inlet lip skin that’s made of Aluminum-Silicon alloy. Gravity die casting is used in the alloying process to give the metal all the prerequisite qualities it needs to do its work. As the plane cuts across air, the component is exposed to surface breakage due to pressure. Continuous maintenance is required to keep the plane in shape.
The engine support structure is made using aluminum alloys 2124-T851 and T8151 series. Some manufacturers prefer alloys 2219-T351 and 2219-T851 for the development of the support structure because of their high-temperature strength, flatness, and low distortion.
Aluminum In Tail and Systems
Aluminum alloy 7075, steel, and Titanium alloys are used to make aircraft’s landing gear. The component must be sturdy as it supports the weight of the whole airplane. Besides, it shouldn’t be too heavy because it must be supported by air. But it should be strong enough not to break down carrying the whole air vessel.
Brake components, fuel lines, torque tubes, actuators, and hydraulic components among others make up the aircraft system. Powered by the engine, these systems ensure that the plane can move and stop when required by the operator.
Hydraulic manifolds and connectors are designed using alloy 2024-T351 and 7075-T7351 because of their machining performance and geometric dimensional control. Besides its lot-to-lot consistency and straightness are on point for the hydraulic components to provide optimum performance.
When designing these components, safety is a major consideration. Alloy 7075 is commonly used because of its great mechanical properties. The strong and tough alloy also exhibits great ductility. All these qualities combined make the components designed with durability and resistance to corrosion.
Also, the alloy displays great specific heat capacity at 714.8 J/Kg*K. This gives the aircraft’s systems the ability to withstand high temperatures for a long including the engine. The cooling systems cannot provide all the coolness an airplane needs to reduce temperatures to desirable levels. That’s why the systems must be made with a material that can handle a lot of temperatures for long periods.
Aluminum In Interior Components
The interior of an aircraft is mostly occupied by people. A few other air vessels carry luggage and other things. This means that the interior must be designed to suit the needs of these people or the luggage transported. As you design the seats, they must fit well on the fuselage linked by special material as per the requirements.
When choosing the material, strength, and formability are two of the most commonly looked out for factors. For instance, the fuselage brackets are made of aluminum 2024-O, T3, T4 alloys. These alloys display strength, formability, and great stiffness.
Other interior parts like seat pans, beams, backs, and baggage bars are also products of the aluminum alloy 2024-T3 and 7075-T73/76 series. The aluminum alloys were used because of their low distortion abilities as well as corrosion resistance, and formability.
Aluminum In Wing Structure
The wings generate the most life to keep the aircraft in the air. As this happens, air resistance also occurs in form of aerodynamic drag. These forces of nature can damage the wing if the wrong material is used. Even with the right material, the right combination must be observed to optimize wing structure.
The wing ribs are made using alloy 7475-T7351, 7099 series, and 7050 series. The alloy is strong, low in distortion, and flat enough to serve its purpose. These features give the wings the ability to last longer and deal with aerodynamic drag.
Wing spars and skins are designed using 2024, 7075, and 7475 alloys. Strong alloys have great damage tolerance, low distortion, and stiffness. This gives the wings the ability to last long even as they face all kinds of drags while generating the lift needed to stay in the air.