Aerospace Applications

Cars, vans and trucks are not the only vehicles that have incorporated magnesium in their designs. The aerospace industry has a long history of using the metal in many applications both civil and military. It is critical to lower the weight of air and space craft, as well as projectiles, to aid in decreasing emissions and increasing fuel efficiency – see the Life Cycle Study for aircraft components by Ehrenberger (DLR) for more information. These changes will result in a lower operational cost as well. Magnesium is an ideal material for use in these applications due to limited continuing improvements on aluminum weight reduction, the high cost of fibre metal laminates or carbon fibre composites, and the poor impact, and damage properties of low density plastics when subjected to extreme temperatures. Magnesium can be found in the thrust reversers for the Boeing 737, 747, 757, and 767 as well as in jet engine fan frames, and aircraft and helicopter transmission casings. Recent changes to the Aircraft Seat Design Standard SAE AS8049C now permit the use of magnesium alloys, meeting specific FAA flammability criteria, in passenger aircraft seat frames and investigations are underway to allow broader use within the cabin.

Spacecraft and missiles also contain magnesium and its alloys. Lift-off weight reduction is of high importance in design and a material is needed that can withstand the extreme conditions faced during operation. Magnesium is capable of withstanding short wave electromagnetic radiation, exposure to ozone and the impact of high energy particles and matter. Dimensional stability is also a key factor when used in optical imaging devices carried by satellites.

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