The biennial Paris Air Show is not only arguably the most prestigious aircraft exposition in the world, but also a reliable barometer of the global aerospace industry. During this year’s event, USD 130 billion worth of orders were announced, the majority of them (USD 107 billion, 752 aircraft) for commercial jets, which suggests that the industry is in good condition. According to Airbus and Boeing, the two dominant passenger plane makers, the demand for aircraft will remain high for the foreseeable future. Boeing forecasts demand for 36,770 new airplanes between now and 2033, while Airbus, using a slightly different counting system, projects air traffic growth of 4.7% annually, requiring 20,000 new passenger aircraft and freighters by 2032.
Against this optimistic background, the industry is confronted with numerous challenges. Besides the rising competitive pressure and constant demand to meet high quality, reliability and safety standards, aircraft manufacturers are facing ever-stricter environmental requirements. According to Europe’s vision for aviation known as "Flightpath 2050," fuel consumption and CO2 emissions produced by airplane travel are to be reduced by 75 percent per passenger kilometer by 2050. If these targets are to be met, the components in engines and landing gear will have to become even more efficient.
As Claude Bourret explains in his recent article published in the Stainless Steel World magazine, a modern airplane must be capable of withstanding extreme loads. When a vehicle weighing several hundred tons is accelerated to more than 260 km/h within just a few seconds, temperatures and pressure are very high, requiring robust and exceptionally corrosion-resistant components which can ensure the constant functionality and safety of the machine. To continue the lowering of fuel consumption in the future, these components will have to be designed to be lighter without sacrificing strength and reliability. To achieve these goals, new high-performance special steels are being developed, demonstrating how stringent environmental regulation can promote the development of new materials.
For two recent examples of new stainless steel alloys developed for the needs of the aerospace industry, read the full article by Claude Bourret and this press release