Light aircraft have airframes primarily of all-aluminum semi-monocoque construction, however, a few light planes have tubular truss load-carrying construction with fabric or aluminum skin, or both. Aluminum skin is normally of the minimum practical thickness: 0.015 to 0.025 in. Although design strength requirements are relatively low, the skin needs moderately high yield strength and hardness to minimize ground damage from stones, debris, mechanics’ tools, and general handling. Other primary factors involved in selecting an alloy for this application are corrosion resistance, cost, and appearance. Alloys 6061-T6 and alclad 2024-T3 are the primary choices.
Skin sheet on light airplanes of recent design and construction generally is alclad 2024-T3. The internal structure comprises stringers, spars, bulkheads, chord members, and various attaching fittings made of aluminum extrusions, formed sheet, forgings, and castings.
The alloys most used for extruded members are 2024-T4 for sections less than 0.125 in. thick and for general application, and 2014-T6 for thicker, more highly stressed sections. Alloy 6061-T6 has considerable application for extrusions requiring thin sections and excellent corrosion resistance. Alloy 2014-T6 is the primary forging alloy, especially for landing gear and hydraulic cylinders. Alloy 6061-T6 and its forging counterpart 6151-T6 often are utilized in miscellaneous fittings for reasons of economy and increased corrosion performance, when the parts are not highly stressed.
Alloys 356-T6 and A356-T6 are the primary casting alloys employed for brackets, bellcranks, pulleys, and various fittings. Wheels are produced in these alloys as permanent mold or sand castings. Die castings in alloy A380 also are satisfactory for wheels for light aircraft.
For low-stressed structure in light aircraft, alloys 3003-H12, H14, and H16; 5052-O, H32, H34, and H36; and 6061-T4 and T6 are sometimes employed. These alloys are also primary selections for fuel, lubricating oil, and hydraulic oil tanks, piping, and instrument tubing and brackets, especially where welding is required. Alloys 3003, 6061, and 6951 are utilized extensively in brazed heat exchangers and hydraulic accessories. Recently developed alloys, such as 5086, 5454, 5456, 6070, and the new weldable aluminum-magnesium-zinc alloys, offer strength advantages over those previously mentioned.
Sheet assembly of light aircraft is accomplished predominantly with rivets of alloys 2017-T4, 2117-T4, or 2024-T4. Self-tapping sheet metal screws are available in aluminum alloys, but cadmium-plated steel screws are employed more commonly to obtain higher shear strength and driveability. Alloy 2024-T4 with an anodic coating is standard for aluminum screws, bolts, and nuts made to military specifications. Alloy 6262-T9, however, is superior for nuts, because of its virtual immunity to stress-corrosion cracking.
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A light aircraft is an aircraft that has a maximum gross take-off weight of 12,500 lb (5,670 kg) or less.
Many light aircraft are used commercially for passenger and freight transport, sightseeing, photography and other similar roles as well.
Examples of light aircraft include:
- Cessna, the entire range of propeller driven aircraft from the Cessna 120 up to the Cessna Caravan
- Piper, all models
- Beechcraft, the light models
- Others like Cirrus aircraft; GA8 Airvan; Aviat Husky and the Robin DR400.
Examples of aircraft that are at the maximum gross take-off weight for this category include the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter and Beechcraft B200 Super King Air.
Famous quotes containing the word light:
“Thy remembrance, and repentance, and deep musings are not free
From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet smile.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (17921822)