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Basic Science Laboratories - B.Tech., Aeronautical & Mechatronics Engineering
But what exactly is an airframe?
It's the main structure of an aircraft, comprising fuselage, wings, nacelles and empennage - the elements that physically support and protect all of the "vital organs" such as the engines, fuel systems, passenger cabin, as well as the flight deck - and carries its payload: passengers and cargo.
In fact, the perennial challenge in aviation is to reduce aircraft weight and improve aerodynamic efficiency – goals that can be achieved through improved airframe design. An additional and important challenge is to do so while reducing the design and build times, hence reducing the cost of the aircraft. By reducing airframe weight, it's possible to reduce operating costs, fly more efficiently and reduce fuel-burn and emissions by virtue of carrying a lighter load.
Traditionally, airframes have been made out of metals – mostly aluminium, steel and/or titanium alloys, but these are being superseded in many cases by carbon composite and other composite materials. About half the weight of the airframes of the latest airliners is made up from composite material, bringing weight saving, and better resilience to the fatigue and corrosion issues associated with metals. But many challenges lie ahead in further optimising aircraft structures to make full use of the potential that new materials, manufacturing processes and design capabilities can unlock in the search for better performance at lower cost and lower life-cycle impact.
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