Composite materials in the aeronautical sector

February 10, 2022

Recent posts

Carbon Fiber: Most notable properties and applications


The City Council supports the Iberia Compositech project, which will invest €380,000 and create 15 jobs


Composites manufacturing technologies – Part III: RTM – Resin Transfer Molding 


Manufacturing technologies for composite materials: Prepreg with autoclave


Composite materials in the aeronautical sector

FRP composite materials are those that have reinforcements of various materials immersed in a polymer matrix. Which entails very good mechanical properties in relation to its weight, as well as great flexibility in its design. 

In the aeronautical sector, the weight of materials is key for both efficiency and safety. 

Therefore, it has been seen that composite materials are especially indicated to meet the requirements of this sector and this is reflected in the trend of their use. 

Benefits of composites in aeronautics

As we have mentioned, composite materials are capable of achieving greater resistance to weight characteristics compared to metallic materials, reducing the weight of the aircraft and therefore, the fuel cost per passenger (between 20% to 50%). ). 

The weight reduction is also achieved thanks to the anisotropic properties of these materials, making it possible to design optimized layouts under the loads and requirements. In addition, composites are more resistant to cyclic stresses and behave better under fatigue. This results in savings in inspections and other costs throughout the life of the aircraft. 

Other advantages of this type of materials are corrosion resistance and high impact resistance, especially when aramid fiber reinforcements (Kevlar) are used, reducing damage after an accident. 

Disadvantages of composites in aeronautics

On the contrary, the cost of the material and the production processes are higher compared to conventional materials . Likewise, repairs follow different processes, so it is necessary to adapt both the equipment and the personnel to carry them out. 

Another critical point lies in the failure control of composites . These suffer from brittle fracture, they do not show visual signs of failure. Unlike conventional materials where failure can follow a controllable elongation or crack. 

Finally, some composite materials must be insulated to prevent galvanic corrosion from occurring. 

Use of composite materials in aeronautics

Composite materials in the aeronautical sector began to be included in military aircraft during World War II, and since then they began to be used in commercial aviation little by little until they had exponential growth starting in the 1980s. 

From then until today it has not stopped growing and improving, until it represents 50% of the total weight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 

The weight reduction of this aircraft is around 4,500 kilograms with a consumption saving of 20% compared to a completely aluminum aircraft of the same size. 

The most used composites in the commercial aviation industry are those reinforced with carbon and glass. Additionally, some local aramid (Kevlar) reinforcement is usually found in impact-prone areas. 

Another type of material widely used in the construction of the Airbus A380 is GLARE or reinforced glass. It is a heterogeneous mixture FML (fiber metal laminate), in which very thin metal sheets are sandwiched with fiberglass pre-impregnated with epoxy resin. 

Composites in aeronautics are more than present and in continuous evolution.

Manufacturers and agencies allocate a large amount of funds for research and innovation of this type of materials.

As we have seen, the aeronautical sector undoubtedly represents one of the most potential markets for the development of composite materials. However, there are several sectors where the use of these materials is already established and many others in which there is innovation and increasing commitment to loc composites, such as sports equipment, construction and health.

If you want to know all the applications of composites and the main sectors for which we work, do not hesitate to visit our markets section.

Skip to content