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aluminium gets big tick from aerospace industry
Once thought to have a limited future in aerospace, aluminium continues to innovate and offer competitive products for a wide range of both wide body and narrow body aircraft.

"A few years ago, the industry consensus was that composites were the default material of choice. That is no longer the case – particularly for narrow body aircraft. At a substantially reduced risk proprietary aluminium alloys and new aluminium-lithium alloys offer improvements in weight savings and enhanced strength at a lower cost,” said Dan Goodman, Director of Marketing, Alcoa Aerospace.

The evolution of the market for aerospace aluminium continues to grow, examples include: 

  • Bombardier’s selection of aluminium-lithium for the CSeries fuselage; 
  • Mitsubishi’s recent decision to switch the MRJ-21 from a composite to an aluminium wing; 
  • Comac’s consideration of advanced aluminium products for the wing and fuselage; and 
  • Lockheed Martin’s choice of aluminium-lithium on the primary structures of the Orion spacecraft.

aluminium can: world’s top sustainable package
The aluminium can is the benchmark for sustainable packaging, with unmatched infinite recyclability and growing product innovation.

“In a world increasingly concerned about sustainability, no other package can match aluminium’s 60-day turnaround from used beverage container to new can. No other container can match the energy savings and value that aluminium brings to recycling,” said American Aluminum Association President Steve Larkin. “That is why we are troubled by a report suggesting otherwise, and have taken a close look at its methodology.”

The PET Resin Association (PETRA) issued a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) showing a selective use of outdated data for competitive materials, calling into question comparisons based on the report.

Life cycle analysis and solid waste management consultancy, Franklin Associates, did not take into account more current and publicly available data - instead using data about aluminium from the US Life Cycle Inventory Database. The aluminium data used was based on the industry’s 1995 production profile.

More up-to-date data shows a 15% improvement in energy efficiency and a lowering of greenhouse gas intensity by 30% against the data used for the PETRA study.

In addition, the PETRA study was not a “cradle to cradle” analysis. Cradle to cradle is a more comprehensive analysis model which includes a review of the product through the end of its life, but also evaluates whether the product is actually re-used or recycled - one of the prime advantages of the aluminium can.

PETRA’s results also appear to contradict a study by Carbon Trust, which concluded that the aluminium can had the lowest carbon footprint among beverage packages.


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Alcoa’s Position in the Global Aerospace Market


Dan Goodman, director of Alcoa’s aerospace market sector team, puts Alcoa’s aerospace business in context
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The Future of Alcoa Aerospace


Dan Goodman explains the outlook for Alcoa Aerospace in the age of composite planes
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