Aircraft Materials Through the Years

We have come a long way in aviation since the Wright Brothers first designed and built their Wright Flyer in 1903. An engineering marvel of its time, the aircraft was constructed out of simple and easily available materials, namely wood, fabric and waxed twine. Unfortunately, a strong gust of wind flipped the trial plane a few times, causing heavy damage to the motor, chain guides and the surface of the machine. The Wright Flyer was beyond repair and the brothers never flew in it again.

A change to metals

With the promise of the Wright Brothers’ plane design, wood became the primary material used to build airplanes. As technology of planes and motors progressed, airplanes were capable of flying at greater speeds, but this also meant that wind resistance and drag force became too much for the original material of wood to handle.

This led to the use of metals like aluminium and copper on planes. The strength and durability of metals enabled aircraft engineers and manufacturers to build planes that were lighter and easier to assemble. In addition, repairs could be made more efficiently on a specific section of metal planes compared to the older clunky wooden ones. The popularity of using metal as a plane construction material took off and continued till this day, with the first all-metal plane known as Junkers J 1 built in 1915. Unfortunately, these planes have their weaknesses too, including being prone to metal fatigue and corrosion.

Ideal aircraft materials today

To create stronger materials to withstand extreme speeds, resistance force and temperatures, a number of aluminium alloys were created. Over the years, exotic metals and composite materials were developed and incorporated into the building of aircrafts. One such material is Titanium – resistant to extreme temperatures and corrosion, but considerably stronger relative to other lighter metals. Carbon steel is known as a strong alloy resistant to corrosion and rusting, while composite materials often are stronger and lighter than aluminium. The properties of all these modern materials allowed aircrafts to fly faster and for longer, while keeping material costs down.

As a trusted stocking distributor of aircraft materials in Australia, Airport Metals provides a comprehensive range of aviation metals for manufacturing and maintenance use. We ensure that all materials meet with the highest application standards required and come with test documentation as proof, so you know they are strong and reliable. Contact us at (03) 9310 5566 to discuss your aircraft material needs or submit an online enquiry today.