Alcoa is at Paris with bold claims about its favourite aircraft material - aluminium.

Not only can the latest aluminium-lithium alloys teamed with new construction techniques pioneered by Alcoa beat carbon fibre for lightweight performance in the wings and fuselage of a next-generation single aisle jetliner, the structural material of choice throughout the 20th century remains king in one key respect - recycling.

Alcoa aerospace global marketing director Tony Morales said it will be possible to build aircraft with 80-90% recycled material, topping up a melt of scrapped structures with just enough "sweetener" - virgin material - to ensure the design properties of the alloy come through.

Referring to composites, he says: "We woke up one day with the other materials being talked about as being the green material." That is a fair claim given the closeness to final shape that can be achieved with composites early in the manufacturing process, he says, but is forgetting that aluminium machine shop cuttings can be the sweetener that goes back into the recycling mix, so almost no material is lost.

Morales is on hand to show off Alcoa's bid for the next generation of single-aisles. On display at the Alcoa stand is an aluminium-lithium fuselage panel made by Spirit Aerosystems using a set of its existing production tooling. A sample structure showing Alcoa's selective reinforcement is also on display.

Morales added that staying with aluminium is the sensible choice for management looking to "mitigate the risk" of a new programme running into trouble during development engineering or production ramp-up.

Source: Flight Daily News