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Q:

What kinds of materials are used to make an aircraft?

A:

Different aircraft require different building materials. Aircraft can be constructed from wood, fabric, many types of metal, or even composite materials (e.g. carbon-fiber, fiberglass).

 

Early aircraft such as the Wright Flyer were built with wood and fabric. The frame of the Wright Flyer was made from spruce and ash and many surfaces were covered with muslin, a fabric.

 

Most airplanes today are made out of aluminum, a strong, yet lightweight metal. The Ford Tri-Motor, the first passenger plane from 1928, was made out of aluminum. The modern Boeing 747 is an aluminum airplane as well.

 

Other metals, such as steel and titanium, are sometimes used to build aircraft. Steel is heavy though, so not too much is used. Titanium is almost as strong as steel, has a medium weight, is heat resistant, and is corrosion resistant. The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft, is made of titanium.

 

Composite materials such as graphite-epoxy are strong, but can weigh half as much as aluminum. These lightweight, customizable materials are becoming more popular. More than half of the materials used to make the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are composites.

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