Alcoa develops ‘lighter, lower-cost’ aircraft components

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Published: June 24, 2011

Alcoa has developed new aluminum-based sheet, plate, forgings and hard alloy extrusion solutions for the aerospace market, which it said will provide “dramatically lighter and lower-cost short-range airplanes” than their “composite-intensive” counterparts. The new aluminum-based products combine new alloys and advanced structural technologies, and could increase fuel efficiency by up to 12%, the company estimated—even up to 27% when combined with new engines.

“The decisions made in the past decade to build the first composite-intensive aircraft were a huge wake-up call for us,” said Alcoa North American Rolled Products President Mick Wallis. “It was the right decision for the time—when advanced aluminum solutions were not as developed—but our technology solutions have made quantum leaps since those decisions … it’s important to keep in mind that the mission requirements of short-range airplanes are dramatically different than those of longer-range planes.”

The aluminum manufacturer said the solutions, when used across aircraft wings and fuselage structures, could lower the weight by up to 10% when compared to “composite-intensive” airplanes, lower the manufacturing/operating/repair costs by up to 30%, and deliver passenger comforts such as higher cabin pressure, large windows and higher humidity.

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