Much like its mounting use in automotive innovation and assembly, plastics applications in aircraft construction is experiencing a mounting increase in demand and use. Within three years, nearly 800 pounds of any contemporary car on the road will be plastic, and now that the material is being used for structural loads, safety and fuel efficiency in the air, the sky’s the limit, right?
Could the wing or tail assembly be next?
Plastics applications already speckle the interiors of any commercial jet, airplane or helicopter from the tray table at your arm, the windows on your right and left, or the canopy fixed overhead.
And this what you can see.
Fasteners, valve seats, pump gears, electrical standoffs, and insulators for the endless array of cables and wires are hidden under each wing, beneath your feet or behind the panels along the cabin walls.
Although fluctuating prices in raw material remains one of the market’s biggest obstacles, perhaps another facing the use of plastics in the air is the material’s “perceived” inability to withstand loads or extreme temperatures.
High performance plastics are heat and flame resistant, and the advanced plastics used in aerospace are resistant to chemicals, won’t corrode and have very little smoke emission.
Following the 2013 crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco, Plastics News published an article outlining how the addition of advanced plastics helped to save more than 300 lives that day.
According to the article, the Federal Aviation Administration wanted to reduce the number of aviation fatalities and injuries by two-thirds because 40 percent of fatalities during impact-survivable incidents