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Aircraft Lifetime and Corrosion


The lifetime of an aircraft can be expressed in terms of flight-hours and in terms of flights an aircraft makes. Which is most convenient, depends on the part. For parts like the landing gear and the fuselage (due to fatigue caused by repeated pressurization) it is most convenient to express their lifetime in amount of flights. For parts like the engine, it is most convenient to express the lifetime in the flight-hours.
Corrosion is an unwanted attack on the material, resulting from chemical or electro-chemical reactions with the surrounding environment. Corrosion resistance is an important factor to consider during material selection. There are many forms of corrosion. Besides general corrosion there are galvanic or contact corrosion, which occurs due to a difference in electric potential between touching parts, intercrystalline corrosion, where the more active edges of the crystals are attacked while the rest of the crystals remain intact, stress corrosion, where mechanical stress increases the chemical activity of the material, and fretting corrosion, where wear between surfaces results in corrosion products (hard oxides) increasing the local corrosive effect.
Methods to prevent corrosion include painting, which can be relatively heavy, anodising, where the aircraft is covered with a stable protective oxide layer, cladding, where a layer of pure aluminum is attached during rolling (attaching a less noble material to a more noble material), cadmium plating, where a more noble material covers a less noble material, choosing an alternative material, or regular cleaning.


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