Aircraft Interiors Composite Materials on the Rise
Composite materials are one of the most exciting components to be utilized in aircraft interiors over the last decade. For example, since their incorporation into airframe design, composites have grown to make up 33% of overall materials used in the airframe alone. The aerospace industry is expected to increase the demand for composite materials in various aircraft components by more than 200% in the coming years.
Lightweight composites optimize fuel consumption by providing overall weight reduction. They are incorporated into aircraft cabin interiors and features ranging broadly from commercial airline interior walls to helicopter doors. In commercial aviation, an airliner cabin wall called a “sandwich panel”, is typically designed with a web or honeycomb core made of composite material such as carbon reinforced plastic. Contemporaneously, a helicopter main or side door might include composites of glass pre-peg or honeycomb cores. The composites are also currently utilized in aircraft interior brackets, seats, floorboards, and more.
Thermoplastics are another composite component rising in popularity among aircraft interior OEMs. These materials, like all other materials, must comply with standard FAA regulation according to the aircraft in which they will be utilized. Regulation involved with materials typically includes compliance with fire, smoke, and toxicity standards. A standard thermoplastic, such as elastollan thermoplastic polyurethane, boasts the alleged capacity to reduce the weight of an interior material by up to 40%.
Looking towards the future, the commercial aircraft industry is a prime example of increasing demand for aircraft with composite fiber components. The demand for large scale regional commercial aircraft is expected to increase upwards of 25% by 2022. At the urging of rising fuel costs and heightened demand for aircraft manufacturing, OEMs have been utilizing alternate aircraft interior materials in order to meet fuel efficiency and production needs, and will likely only continue to do so. With their lightweight and durable design, it is probable we will see the increased use of composite materials in aircraft interior structure design.
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