Aluminum in Aircraft

There are many factors that aircraft designers have to take into consideration when choosing the material used for aircraft construction. Some of these factors are strength, weight, malleability, cost, and chemical composition— which affects its susceptibility to corrosion, its thermal capacity, etc.

Aluminum has long been one of the most common materials used in aircraft construction because it’s strong, lightweight, predictable, and inexpensive. There are other materials that are stronger, such as steel and iron, but they are very heavy. Aluminum is often the best choice due to its balance between strength and weight. But new composite materials are becoming increasingly popular because they offer many of the same benefits and are even lighter. Some aluminum alloys offer the same advantages while improving some of its weaker elements— there are advantages and disadvantages to each material.

Aluminum is used in constructing aircraft skins, cowlings, structures, and interior components such as seat frames. Carbon composites are becoming popular for these applications but will need to prove their durability in flight over time. Aluminum has been proven to last throughout an aircraft's lifetime and is resistant to UV damage.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a material for aircraft construction. Designers have to strike a balance between competing requirements and choose the best material for specific applications. There is not just one suitable option for every component of an aircraft— they vary due to what their purpose is and how they react in different environments.


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October 19, 2021
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