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Aluminium as used in Aircraft.

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Aluminium as used in Aircraft.

Aluminium is used to make many parts of aircraft.  This is mainly because of its weight, which is considerably lighter than the next suitable material steel.  This is not its only reason for being used otherwise we could have used plastic or something even lighter.  Its internal properties on a molecular level make it the lightest suitable material which would retain a good strength.  

Aluminium can be easily made into forms such as foil, sheets, shapes, rods, tubes, and wires. It also displays excellent machinability and plasticity in bending, cutting, and drawing. Aluminium is considered to be the best material for complex-sectioned hollow extrusion this means that it would generally be easier to work with than materials such as Steel.

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Many internal fittings like the seating on planes are made from aluminium or aluminium composite in order to save weight and thus save fuel, reduce emissions and increase the aircraft's payload.  

The main reasons why aluminium is used in aircraft are listed below:

  • Aluminium does not rust so aircraft are made lighter as they do not have to paint them.  Paint over a large area would increase the weight significantly.  
  • Aluminium increases in tensile strength and retains excellent quality unlike steel in cold temperatures which an aircraft would be exposed to at high altitude.
  • Another useful property is that aluminium is not magnetic so would not cause any magnetic interference to an aircrafts instruments.  
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  • Non-Flammability, Aluminium is a non-flammable substance.  It only burns when powdered or very thing and does not generate gases on combustion.  This makes it safer when incase of an accident it will not burn.  
  • Thermal resistence, Aluminium is a good thermal resistor meaning it will not degrade in high temperatires making it suitable for use in engines which are exposed to extreme heat.  

So generally aluminium is used because its relative strength to weight ratio and because of its other useful properties such as it doesn’t corrode and is a good heat insulator.  The usefulness of Aluminium in aircraft can be seen that over 65% of an aircraft is made of aluminium.  It is capable of taking the high streeses and pressures involved in high altitude flying.  

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