Preface – Introduction to Aerospace Materials


Adrian P. Mouritz

The purpose of this book is to give the reader an introduction to the science and engineering of the materials used in aircraft, helicopters and spacecraft. The topic of aerospace materials is core to aerospace engineering, and sits alongside the other key disciplines of aircraft technology: design, aerodynamics, flight control systems, avionics, propulsion technology, airframe structures and so on. The focus of this book is on the structural materials used in the airframe and propulsion systems. The book examines the materials used in the main structures (e.g. fuselage, wings, landing gear, control surfaces) and the propulsion systems (e.g. jet engines, helicopter rotor blades). The reason for the focus on structural materials is simple: they have a major influence on the cost, performance and safety of aircraft. The other applications of materials on aircraft, such as cabin equipment (e.g. seating, flooring) and electronic equipment (e.g. flight control computers, communication systems, avionics) are outside the scope of this book.

The objective of this book is to describe the science and technology of aerospace materials for college-level students and practising engineers. The reader does not need to have already completed an introductory course in materials engineering to understand this book. The information contained in this book is sufficient for the reader to understand the topics without needing an in-depth knowledge of materials. The book attempts to provide a balance between the science and engineering of materials so that the reader may understand the underpinning science that determines the behaviour of materials and enough engineering to prepare students for professional practice.

The book is divided into the following topics:

• Introduction to materials for aerospace structures and engines (chapters 13)

• Engineering science and properties of aerospace materials (chapters 4 and 5)

• Production, metallurgy and properties of aerospace metal alloys (chapters 612)

• Production and properties of composite materials (including polymers) (chapters 1316)

• Wood (chapter 17)

• Performance issues with aerospace materials (including damage detection) (chapters 1823)

• Recycling of aerospace materials (chapter 24)

• Materials selection for aerospace structures and engines (chapter 25).

The challenge for any textbook is to provide the proper balance of breadth and depth of the subject. The chapters contain sufficient information to provide an introduction to the topic. Most chapters give applications, case studies and other examples to illustrate the practical aspects of aerospace materials and their performance. It is not the intent of this book to provide in-depth information on every topic, and references are added at the end of each chapter for further reading and research. The books and articles suggested as references are not the only sources of information, although they provide a useful starting point to deepen the reader’s understanding of each topic beyond the introductory information provided in the chapters. General references to Internet sites are not provided because they change or disappear without warning; however, the Internet has a wealth of information and many case studies. A glossary of terminology is also found at the end of most chapters so that the reader does not have to wade through the text to find definitions.