Alcoa Firsts on the A380

In order for the A380 to raise the bar in size, economy and comfort; Alcoa had to work closely with Airbus to break new ground in metallurgy and metallic structural design. For nearly a decade, Alcoa scientists, engineers and production planners have been working to fill the pipeline with metallic solutions that do things that have never been done before. Here are a few examples:

Sheet and Plate
There are four alloys on the A380 that have never been used anywhere else. The upper wing surface is the highest strength alloy made for an upper wing. The lower wing is made from a new 2XXX alloy that has the highest damage tolerance. The massive wing spars are made from a very high strength, high toughness 7XXX alloy which is used on the A380 for the first time. And the fuselage uses two high damage tolerance alloys, one of which is a first-time application and the other a second-time use on large commercial aircraft.

Literally millions of Alcoa fasteners designed for hundreds of different applications take to the air with each A380 aircraft. To meet the demands of the A380, Alcoa created many new designs of both fasteners and the systems that install them—critical to keep construction costs manageable. One such design, the new XPL lockbolt, uses titanium components for maximum strength bonding of aluminum to composite components in places like the A380's immense wingbox.

The A380 has new applications for Alcoa aluminum-lithium alloy extrusions, which offer greater strength with less weight. An important application for Al-Li extrusions is one you might not expect: the floor tracks that position and hold the aircraft's 550 passenger seats in place. Seat systems in aircraft are designed to be several times stronger than other components, placing a premium on the virtues of this newly commercialized alloy.

42 Alcoa aluminum and titanium alloy forged components, including the largest, strongest wing spars ever made, help the A380 handle the stress of hard landings, engine thrust, bad weather and high-speed maneuvering.

Of the many castings made by Alcoa for A380 components, some of the most high-performance components are the airfoils made by Alcoa Howmet Castings for Rolls-Royce, who supply engines for the A380. These blades help provide 70,000 pounds of thrust and can withstand combustion temperatures exceeding 5000 degrees F. Other precision castings support the A380's hydraulic systems.

Every new aircraft design pushes the limits of component design, and the A380 is no exception. Alcoa's metallic solutions are helping Airbus reduce weight, add strength, and control cost from one end of this enormous aircraft to the other.