News & StatisticsAluminum AssociationThe IndustryEventsBookStore

Aluminum in Aircraft

Aluminum plate is used in the manufacture of aircraft and for fuel tanks in spacecraft. The airframe of a typical modern commercial transport aircraft is 80 Imagepercent aluminum by weight. Structural components of current United States Navy aircraft are made of fabricated wrought aluminum (forged, machined, and assembled parts). There are efforts under way to persuade the Navy to adopt aluminum casting technology, which offers lower manufacturing cost, the ability to form complex shapes, and the flexibility to incorporate innovative design concepts.

Aircraft manufacturers use high-strength alloys (principally alloy 7075) to strengthen aluminum aircraft structures. Alloy 7075 has zinc and copper added for ultimate strength, but because of the copper it is very difficult to weld. It anodizes beautifully. 7075 has the best machinability and results in the finest finish.