Benefits When You Fly It
Airlines are looking for next-generation single-aisle airliners that are less expensive fly, have longer inspection intervals and extended useful lifetimes, while also offering enhanced passenger comfort – all of which are provided by Alcoa’s advanced aluminum technologies without the operational uncertainties of composite-intensive aircraft.
These technologies build on Alcoa innovation that has seen the company developing aluminum solutions faster than ever before for applications that include the Airbus A380 (new sheet and plate products, aluminum lithium extruded floor structures, and the world’s largest fuselage panels and wing skins), Boeing’s 787 (the first use of aluminum lithium in large commercial aircraft plate), and Airbus’ A350 XWB (aluminum lithium extruded floor structures, as proven on the A380).
In fact, Alcoa aluminum technologies continue to be chosen by airframe manufacturers as they strive to provide their airline customers with aircraft that meet the promised weight goals, and which can be ramped up to the required production rates for on-time delivery commitments from the final assembly lines.
For new single-aisle jetliners, Alcoa’s advanced solutions such as aluminum lithium alloys, tailored product forms and advanced structural technologies provide lower-density solutions that reduce overall aircraft weight, leading to lower fuel consumption and longer flight ranges. Their significantly improved corrosion resistance will contribute to increased structural and anti-corrosion inspection intervals, reducing the time spent in maintenance shops.
Additionally, optimized structural concepts already validated by Alcoa – such as selective reinforcement with bonded fiber-metal laminates – offer up to 10 times improved damage tolerance for longer aircraft operating lifetimes, increased cabin pressurization for better passenger comfort, along with stiffer wing structures that enable increased aspect ratio wings for better aerodynamic performance.
Also contributing to aircraft performance is Alcoa's wing skin sheet that offers lower skin friction with the integration of aerodynamic drag-reducing riblets, combined with the company’s self-cleaning technology.
Even the larger windows for passengers that have been spotlighted as an advantage for composite-intensive aircraft are possible with Alcoa’s structural and reinforcement solutions, while the higher humidity levels for enhanced in-flight comfort also will be a reality with the company’s advanced alloys that deliver significantly improved corrosion resistance.
By applying these Alcoa technologies, the new single-aisle airliners targeted for service entry in 2020 and beyond can be up to 12 percent more fuel efficient (on top of the 15 percent enhancement provided by new engines); with as much as 10 percent in weight savings over composite-intensive aircraft, a 12 percent increase in fuel efficiency and operating and maintenance costs lowered by some 30 percent. Another key advantage is the extension of jetliner design service goals from the typical 20 year lifetimes of today to 30 or more years.