As technology advances, the designs and materials of aircraft change to create safer and more efficient methods of air travel. The material used depends on which parts are being made and where those parts are placed. The relative strength to the weight of the material is also considered. Most airplanes were made from combinations of wood, canvas and metal, and modern aircraft add composites to this list.
Parts and Placements
Most of the fuselage of modern aircraft is made from aluminum, but you will find composites such as graphite-epoxy mixed in as well. In modern aircraft, the wood and canvas parts are generally on the interior, where they can be protected from the elements and used to make comfortable seating or decorations. These parts are held together with solid fasteners such as rivets, bolts and pins and will be subject to specifications and regulations from several national and international bodies. Many aircraft companies will use military fasteners distributors for parts and kits to ensure compliance with these regulations.
Strength and Weight
The strength relative to the weight of various materials is considered when choosing the right one for each aircraft part. Aluminum is popular because it is lightweight and strong, but composites are becoming more popular because they can feature customized specifications. For instance, a composite between graphite and epoxy is lighter than aluminum but more robust in some applications. Scientists are experimenting with different composites for various aerospace applications, including satellites with more efficient solar power generation and lighter-weight aircraft for better fuel efficiency.
The materials used to make modern aircraft follow the shifts in technology since the invention of the first airplane. Lighter-weight things like aluminum and composites make up a more significant percentage of an airplane than wood or canvas, creating more fuel-efficient aircraft with greater strength and more safety.