The airliners we fly in today are up to 80 per cent aluminium.
Human beings have always wanted to fly, but until less than 120 years ago it remained just a dream. That changed with the Wright Brothers, whose first flight lasted just 37 metres. Today, we are able to travel the globe on modern airliners. One thing today’s airplanes have with the Wright Brothers’ flimsy flying machine is aluminium.
The crankcase in the engine of the Wright Flyer 1 was made of an aluminium alloy. The Wright Brothers toughened the alloy by heating it, the first time this had ever been done. The crankcase still only lasted four flights.
Up to 80 per cent of a modern airliner is made of aluminium, used in everything from fuselages, to wings, to rudders and wiring. Aluminium alloys offer high strength-to-weight ratios making them ideal for aircraft parts.
Emirati engineers are using aluminium to build the lightweight honeycomb structure and other parts of the United Arab Emirates’ first spacecraft to Mars, Hope. The trip to the Red Planet is set for 2020.
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