With the next generation of civil aircraft vying with each other to demonstrate just how much advanced materials go into them, you might forgive the metals companies for being a shade downcast.

Far from it. Aluminium giant Alcan (H2B, stand 1/8) is at Le Bourget basking in the glow of the extraordinary presence of the Airbus A380, in which it has an important presence.

In fact the world's largest civilian aircraft uses ten times more aluminium than single-aisle aircraft and three times the amount used in widebodies. "The new A380 is a prime example of our focus on customers," says Michel Jacques, chief executive and president, Alcan Engineered Products.


"It demonstrates how close relationships and continuous dialogue with our customers contribute to our mutual success. We are proud to be part of the A380 launch."

He says a range of alloys with customised properties was designed by Alcan to meet the needs of novel components in the A380.

A weight reduction of 10% per aircraft was achieved by combining innovative alloys, Alcan's manufacturing techniques for extra-large products and new joining techniques. Alcan estimates the weight reduction will save 90,000t of aviation fuel during the lifetime of one aircraft. Expressed another way, that means a reduction of 300,000t of greenhouse gas emissions.

Jacques said that for the next generation of aircraft, a further weight reduction of 20% is already being targeted. New technologies and processes being explored include friction stir welding solutions.

Source: Flight Daily News