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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

AVIA2110 Metallic Materials for Aircraft

10 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Professor WF Gale

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22


AVIA1010Aviation Engineering Materials

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The development of aircraft and that of metallic materials has gone hand in hand, since the dawn of flight. Notwithstanding the increasing importance of composites, metallic materials continue to play a vital role in aircraft. This module aims to provide students with insight into what can be achieved with metallic materials and how. Students will learn how to apply the principles of physical metallurgy to enable metals and alloys to meet the property requirements for airframes and propulsion. The module considers some of the key challenges for the use of metallic materials in aircraft, including creep, fatigue, oxidation and hot corrosion, building on the topics covered in the Aviation Engineering Materials module. The module examines major classes of metallic materials used in aircraft, including aluminium alloys, nickel-base superalloys, titanium alloys and steels. Throughout the module, the emphasis is on the relationship between composition, processing, structure and properties.Students will gain experience in the selection of metallic materials and processing routes for specific aviation application through in-class activities and an assignment. There is extensive laboratory work in which students follow metallic materials from initial processing, via microstructural characterisation by light and electron microscopy, through to determination of mechanical properties.


The module aims to give students insight into the relationship between composition, processing, structure and properties for metallic materials. Students will be equipped to make informed selection of metals and alloys for application in airframes and propulsion.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Identify the materials property requirements for airframes and aero-engines.
2. Gain insight into the mechanisms of creep, fatigue, oxidation and hot corrosion and the challenges these pose for materials selection for airframe and propulsion applications.
3. Become familiar with the microstructural development, capabilities and limitations of aluminium alloys, nickel-base superalloys, titanium alloys, steels and specialist metallic materials for aviation applications.
4. Achieve the ability to select processing methods for metallic materials, as a function of the intended airframe or propulsion application.
5. Gain experience in how the combination of composition and processing route determines the microstructure and hence properties of metallic materials and the implications this has for aircraft.

Skills outcomes
Students acquire the following competencies in the module. In each case, the means of acquiring the competency is shown. These competencies correspond with those specified in "The Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes", Third edition, Engineering Council, 2014. P = Practiced actively, F = Formatively assessed, S = Summatively assessed. Discussions refer to both open in-class discussions of questions from broad to highly focused and semi-structured discussion centred around numerous case studies.
SKILL SM1: HOW MANIFESTED: Students gain insight into the scientific principles of physical metallurgy and this insight is refined, deepened and embedded in the extensive laboratory work (P) and evaluated by questions in the exam (S).
SKILL SM3: HOW MANIFESTED: Students draw connections between metallurgy and using this to satisfy the needs of aircraft design in the materials and processing selection in-class exercises and assignment (P, F/S).
SKILL EA1: HOW MANIFESTED: Students grasp the principles of metallurgical engineering and how these are applied to materials processing through the in-class case study exercises (P), reinforced by the laboratory sessions (P) and assessed in the exam (S).
SKILL EA2: HOW MANIFESTED: Students gain experience in how to undertake microstructural analysis in the lab sessions (P) and knowledge/skills gained from this are evaluated in the exam (S).
SKILL EA3: HOW MANIFESTED: A quantitative approach is taken at all appropriate points in the module and so this appears in the experience gained in the labs (P) and assignment (F/S) with evaluation in the exam (S).
SKILL EP3: HOW MANIFESTED: There is extensive laboratory work (P) and knowledge/skills gained from this are evaluated in the exam (S).


Topic 1: Why metals and alloys?
What can and can't metals and alloys do for the aircraft or engine designer?
The symbiotic relationship between advances in metallic materials and advances in aircraft design
What can the designer of metallic materials control and how?
Special topic: Why are some metals and alloys much more expensive than others?

Topic 2: Materials property requirements for aircraft
Airframe: Wings, fuselage and control surfaces
Engines: Front fan, compressor and hot zone
Special topic: What are the options for strengthening?

Topic 3: Creep
What is creep and why do we care?
Creep mechanisms
Achieving creep resistance

Topic 4: Fatigue
What is fatigue and why do we care?
Fatigue mechanisms
Achieving fatigue resistance

Topic 5: High-temperature oxidation and hot corrosion
What is high-temperature oxidation (in a metallurgical context) and why do we care?
Oxidation mechanisms
Achieving oxidation resistance
Hot corrosion

Topic 6: Aluminium alloys for airframes
Introduction to aluminium alloys and their application in aircraft
Benefits and limitations of aluminium alloys
Non-heat treatable alloys
Heat-treatable alloys

Topic 7: Nickel-base superalloys for engines
Introduction to nickel-base alloys and their application in aircraft
Benefits and limitations of nickel-base alloys
Gamma/gamma-prime nickel-base superalloys
Other nickel-base alloys

Topic 8: Titanium alloys for airframes and engines
Introduction to titanium alloys and their application in aircraft
Benefits and limitations of titanium alloys
Near-alpha titanium alloys for compressor applications
Alpha/beta titanium alloys for front fan and airframe applications

Topic 9 Steels for aircraft applications
Introduction to steels and their application in aircraft
Benefits and limitations of steels
Plain carbon steels: ferrite-pearlite, bainitic, martensitic and tempered martensite microstructures
Low alloy steels: why alloy? Hardenability and secondary hardening for quench and temper steels. High strength low alloy (HSLA) steels
High alloy steels: Ferritic, austenitic and duplex stainless steels

Topic 10: Specialist metallic materials for aircraft applications
Metallic glasses and their application in aircraft
Shape memory alloys and their application in aircraft
Potential replacements for nickel-base superalloys and their challenges: oxide dispersion strengthened alloys, structural intermetallics, refractory metals

Topic 11: Processing methods for airframe and engine applications
Wrought products: Why wrought? Rolling, forging, extrusion and drawing
Cast products: Why cast? Conventional casting and investment casting
Powder metallurgy products: Why powder metallurgy? Powder metallurgy routes
Fabrication: mechanical fastening, adhesive bonding, fusion welding, friction stir welding, diffusion bonding (and combining this with superplastic forming) and transient liquid phase bonding
Machining: Turning, milling and drilling. CAD-CAM using CNC machines
Coating and finishing: diffusion coatings, overlay coatings and thermal barrier coatings. Metal finishing

Topic 12: Metallic materials selection for aircraft
What does materials selection encompass?
What CES can and can't tell us
Case studies of materials selection for airframe and propulsion components

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours56.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Students are expected to review the lecture materials weekly. A key aspect of private learning is working on the formative and summative assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback from formative MCQ
Performance on in class polls

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentFormative MCQ Assignment0.00
Problem SheetProblem Sheet20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 hr 80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/12/2021


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