The Uses Of Stainless Steel In Aircraft

Modern aircraft are perfect examples of mankind’s progression in technology and engineering. Built to be both durable and efficient, they rely on some of the most advanced materials available today, which is why it’s no surprise that many types of aeroplanes consist of a variety of stainless steel alloys.

When thinking about the metal used in the manufacture of aircraft most people probably think of aluminium first, and while aluminium still has major uses in aircraft, premium high performance stainless steel is featuring more prominently in modern aircraft designs. Due to its strength, durability and affordability, stainless steel meets many stringent requirements for modern aircraft to ensure they remain safe and durable throughout their lifetime.

Certain uses of stainless steel may surprise you, so lets examine the various roles this incredible metal plays in ensuring the aircraft of today remain more safe and reliable than ever before!

Advantages Stainless Steel Provides For Aircraft

When you consider the jobs large commercial aircraft undertake, it’s critical that all materials used are completely reliable. These vehicles must be able travel long distances at high altitudes with hundreds of people on board. Stainless steel as earned a solid reputation as a dependable and easy to work with metal in the aerospace industry.

Stainless Steel’s excellent corrosion resistance is probably one of its most recognized traits. Every grade has the ability to withstand atmospheric and wet environments with exceptionally low levels of corrosion, and higher performance grades are also able to resist corrosion in acidic and alkaline solutions and even marine environments. Aeroplanes are obviously exposed to all kinds of extreme conditions, all the while spending many hours at high altitudes, so its fair to say that the more resistant the plane is to corrosion, the better.

There is also the advantage of strength, steel is one of the strongest metals and stainless is no exception. An advantage of austenitic stainless steel alloys is their ability to be work hardened, enabling significant strengthening options. Stainless steel also offers high strength to weight ratios, a rather important consideration for passenger and cargo aircraft.

Further advantages of stainless steel include its superior fire and heat resistance, its bright aesthetics and excellent hygiene qualities. Stainless steel is also rather easily fabricated, an important characteristic when you consider all the various shapes and sizes of aircraft parts that must be welded, machined or cut to rather precise specifications. Finally, there are certain alloys of stainless steel that provide extreme impact resistance, this is an important factor when you consider the safety and durability requirements of large aircraft.

An Aircraft In Production

Where Is It Used on Modern Aircraft?

Due to the versatility of stainless steel, the material can be used for almost any metallic part found on an aircraft. It should be noted however that certain more practical considerations as cost and weight reduction means that aluminium is often a preferred choice for many aircraft parts. It has been observed that aeroplane manufacturers are relying more on stainless steel in recent times for certain parts that have higher performance requirements.

As an example, fuel tanks on most aeroplanes are fabricated from stainless steel. This is due to the tanks being exposed to highly corrosive materials, but also the need for the tank to withstand high temperatures and protect against structural damage. These same principles extend to the exhaust components, engine parts and other crucial systems related to the aeroplane’s power source.

There are other key structural components that will more than likely be made from stainless steel such as fasteners. Fasteners are what hold the aeroplane together, and can be found in the landing gear, wings, engines, and the cockpit. In engineering principles, the fasteners are often the weakest link of any structure, and particularly in an aeroplane, you can’t afford anything less than the most reliable options available.

Your Trusted Stainless Steel Supplier

When working in industries where safety and performance are critical, having the correct material for the job is of the utmost importance. Aluminium Trading has a team of seasoned professionals ready to assist and ensure you get your material requirements right the first time, and while we may not carry specialised aircraft alloys as a standard, we are able to source them if required. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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