The aerospace industry has long recognised the benefits to be gained of weight reduction by utilising high performance sand cast and forged magnesium alloys for the production of critical components.
Magnesium alloys are extensively used for a range of helicopter transmission casings. Elektron®RZ5 (ZE41) is an alloy specified for applications operating up to 150°C due to its excellent castability and good mechanical properties. However, the requirements for longer intervals between overhauls and improved corrosion performance has led to Elektron®WE43 being selected, as the material of choice, for many new helicopter programmes including the MD500, Eurocopter EC120, NH90 and Sikorsky S92. Elektron®WE43 has the added advantage of superior mechanical properties compared to Elektron®RZ5 (ZE41). Elektron®21, the new high performance casting alloy, has achieved Aerospace Material Specification AMS 4429 and is the first magnesium alloy ever to achieve full MMPDS (MIL-HNDBK-V) design handbook entry, including statistical A & B values and elevated temperature information. For applications operating up to 200oC (392oF), engineers can now have extra confidence when designing strong, lightweight components with Elektron 21.
In the aeroengine industry, magnesium alloys are being used successfully in both civil and military aircraft. Civil applications include intermediate casings for the Tay (Elektron®RZ5/ZE41) engines and gearboxes for the RB211 (Elektron®ZRE1/EZ33), Tay (Elektron®ZRE1/EZ33) and BR710 (Elektron®RZ5/ZE41) engines. Military aircraft, including the F16, Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon, capitalise on the lightweight characteristics of magnesium alloys for transmission casings. The new Pratt and Whitney F119 gearbox, specified on the new American F22 aircraft uses the excellent high strength properties of Elektron®WE43.
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