NEW YORK & PARIS--Alcoa and Spirit AeroSystems will debut for the aerospace industry a revolutionary fuselage panel at the 2011 Paris Air Show to highlight the promise of new aluminum-based production solutions for commercial airliners that are dramatically lighter, lower-cost and have lower production risks than composite-intensive aircraft. And importantly, which can be built using existing industry infrastructure.
This full-sized panel was produced with Alcoa’s third-generation Al-Li 2060 aluminum-lithium alloy, then stretch-formed by Spirit AeroSystems into the final curved shape for use in a jetliner’s fuselage. It demonstrates the compatibility of advanced aluminum alloys with the existing manufacturing supply chain of new commercial jetliners, delivering the strength, damage tolerance, and corrosion resistance of metallics at the lighter weight inherent in Alcoa’s new solutions. This new combination of performance attributes and aircraft operating costs available with advanced metallic solutions stands in contrast to earlier assessments that drove some airframers to increased use of composites.
To be unveiled on Alcoa’s exhibit stand at the Paris Air Show (Hall 5, Stand F220), the 200 X 78-inch fuselage panel was stretch-formed by Spirit AeroSystems using existing production tooling, underscoring the compatibility of Alcoa’s third-generation aluminum-lithium alloys with today’s supply chain. This major advantage is particularly attractive for single-aisle jetliner programs that demand quick production ramp-up and high output rates, and offers a lower risk solution to the much more complex supply chain for composite material manufacturing.
In addition, Alcoa’s Al-Li 2060 is representative of the new-generation aluminum alloys that have even better strength qualities and further improved resistance to corrosion, which match or exceed the promise of composites in allowing increased passenger cabin pressurization and higher humidity levels for improved comfort – factors that also have been cited by airframers in their move to composite-intensive aircraft.
“When Spirit AeroSystems came to us in exploring the future of metallic solutions for new single-aisle jetliners, we were able to demonstrate the capabilities of our third-generation aluminum alloys that bring all the advantages of weight, strength and durability without the many risks of composites,” said Mick Wallis, President of Alcoa North American Rolled Products who is responsible for Alcoa’s aerospace sheet and plate products.
Responding to Spirit AeroSystems’ request, Alcoa rapidly provided production-quality Al-Li 2060 aluminum-lithium alloy sheet, which was used in the stretch-forming process for a final curved panel typical of those used in aircraft fuselage barrel sections. Alcoa also applied its proprietary surface treatment processes to create fuselage panel sections with the polished qualities of traditional aluminum alloys – which the company also will display at the Paris Air Show.
Earlier this month, Alcoa launched a new portfolio of new metallic solutions – including its third-generation aluminum-lithium alloys; hybrid aerostructures; low-aerodynamic drag, self-cleaning skin sheet – that will enable the development and production of new short-range aircraft which meet or exceed airframer targets for corrosion resistance, aerodynamic drag, maintenance requirements, and fuel efficiency, along with improved buy-to-fly ratios. These solutions are expected to provide up to 10% in weight savings over composite-intensive aircraft, while lowering their cost to manufacture, operate and repair by up to 30%.
About Alcoa Aerospace
Alcoa aerospace comprises 4 businesses with operations across the world totaling approximately $3 billion in revenues and #1 share positions in their markets: Alcoa Global Rolled Products and Alcoa Forgings and Extrusions serving the structures market; and Alcoa Fastening Systems and Alcoa Power and Propulsion. Alcoa’s aerospace solutions run from nose to tail and from wing-tip to wing-tip. Alcoa has been at the forefront of every major milestone in aerospace history based on its commitment to continually innovate and a “beyond materials” philosophy – where materials, structures, and designs work in concert to provide optimal solutions for customers.