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Applications of Magnesium in Aerospace

The benefits of high-performance aerospace magnesium alloys include reducing weight in fuselage structures, interior appliances and aero-engine frames. Highly machinable, versatile magnesium alloys are also used in manufacturing gearboxes, covers and components, helicopter transmissions, electronic housings, flight control systems and aircraft wheels, to maximise fuel efficiency, additionally to take advantage of extruded magnesium durability. For these and other applications in both commercial and military aircraft, demand is rising for advanced higher-performance, high-temperature Elektron® magnesium alloys that are also corrosion-resistant and ignition-resistant.

Why magnesium is preferred and where it is used

  • Lightweight

  • Low density (two thirds that of aluminum)

  • Good high-temperature mechanical properties

  • Good to excellent corrosion resistance

Due to its low density and outstanding mechanical qualities, RZ5 alloy has been the favoured material for helicopter transmission casings for many years. However, in recent years, the need for longer maintenance intervals and hence enhanced corrosion characteristics has prompted manufacturers to reevaluate their material choices. In the past, RZ5 was often used for gearbox casings, however many future projects, including the main rotor gearbox casings, will employ WE43 instead. An aluminium gearbox would have been appropriate for this application, but WE43's superior corrosion resistance makes it the material of choice. WE43 transmission casings have also been used on the Eurocopter EC120 and NH90 helicopters, and WE43 is also required for the Sikorsky S92. WE43 will be used in more applications in the future, both on new programmes and to replace RZ5 on existing helicopters.

The alloys RZ5, ZRE1, MSR, and EQ21 are often used in aviation engine and gearbox casings. This will continue, albeit WE43's corrosion and high-temperature qualities are expected to make it more popular. Large magnesium casings, such as intermediate compressor casings for turbine engines, are possible. The Rolls Royce Tay casing in MSR, weighing 130 kg, and the BMW Rolls Royce BR710 casing in RZ5 are two examples. Auxiliary gearboxes (F16, Eurofighter 2000, Tornado) in MSR or RZ5, generator housings (A320 Airbus, Tornado, Concorde) in MSR or EQ21, and canopies (usually in RZ5) are among the other aircraft uses.

Magnesium usage in drones

Magnesium alloy is used in the majority of consumer drone frames, such as the DJI Phantom and Mavic. This is a combination of magnesium and other metals that come together to form an alloy. Laptops, cellphones, TVs, and aeroplanes, as well as vehicles, power tools, seat frames, and other modern technologies, employ this metal. According to reports, the Mavic Air's alloy contains 90 per cent magnesium, 9 per cent aluminium, and 1% zinc. AZ91D is the name of the combo component. The AZ91D is both exceedingly light and highly powerful. It has good corrosion resistance and is considerably easier to make than other alloys. The component has a density of 1.7g/cm3, making it one of the lightest structural metals in the world. All of this results in a metal that is perfect for a quadcopter.

Aerospace uses for magnesium alloy forgings include essential gearbox parts for the Westland Sea King helicopter and aircraft wheels, both in ZW3. Parts made of forged magnesium are also employed in aviation engines. Magnesium forgings are more likely to be employed in higher temperature applications in the future.


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