Aircraft aluminum

Aircraft aluminum

Published in Aluminum

It’s lightweight, it’s incredibly strong, it’s extremely resistant to corrosion, it’s aluminum: the most-used metal in the air!

In the late 19th century aluminum was first used by Ferninand Zeppelin to make the frames of the iconic aircraft, demonstrating the metal’s great potential. Which allowed the Wright Brothers to fabricate engine parts from the first ever heat-strengthened aluminum alloy for the first manned flight in 1903.

Since, aircraft and spacecraft engineering haven’t looked back. Nowadays, 75% - 80% of modern aircraft are made from aluminum and it’s alloys.

The qualities aluminum possess allows aircrafts to become more fuel efficient or to carry heavier loads, as well as warranting safety for passengers because of its corrosion resistance.

However, not any aluminum grade is used for airplane construction.

Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Aircraft construction must comply with certain characteristics:

  • The material must be as light as possible, since its weight is correlated to the overall fuel burn.
  • To weather harsh conditions such as rain and to support the stress of the flight and its use, the material must be hard and rigid.
  • For better aerodynamics the material must also be flexible and malleable enough to be rounded and streamlined.

Overall, an airplane must be strong, durable, light and affordable for the airlines’ needs.

To meet the aircraft manufacturing criteria, these are the most common grades of aluminum alloys:

Aluminum 2024

The main element in aluminum 2024 is copper. This aluminum grade has a high strength-weight ratio, necessary for resistance to fatigue, it possesses good workability and fair machinability.

It is mainly used for wings, fuselage and structural components for aircrafts, as well as for hardware, parts for transportation industry, truck wheels, scientific instruments and veterinary equipment.

Aluminum 5052

Aluminum 5052, manufactured with magnesium and chromium, is the non-heat-treatable alloy with the highest strength, though it’s highly workable, it can be drawn and formed into different shapes. It is extremely resistant to saltwater corrosion in marine applications.

Some of its most common applications aside from aircraft construction are sheet metal parts, auto industry components and body panels, cooking utensils, appliances, storage tanks, electronic chassis and boating.

Aluminum 6061

Because of its mechanical and welding properties, aluminum 6061 is a common alloy for general use. It provides corrosion resistance from seawater and atmospheric conditions, it can be anodized and hot forged, and has good surface finish.

Its application in the aerospace industry go from landing mats, wings and fuselage, and other structural end-uses. It also finds its use in truck bodies and frames, fishing equipment, marine fittings, brake components, electrical fittings and connectors, running boards, platforms, and almost any structural component, amongst others.

To find great quality Aircraft Grade Aluminum visit Diversified Specialty Metals’s Aluminum Inventory or contact us for more detailed information.


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