On July 6th 2013 Asiana Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International airport, resulting in three deaths and several critical injuries. On July 9th the website, www.Plasticstoday.com published an article about how the disaster could have been worse if not for the use of advanced plastics in the Boeing airliner. You can find the article here.
Truth is high-performance plastics and composites have a long history in aerospace and have been making flights safer for decades. And the use of these plastic materials is ever increasing: the new Boeing Dreamliner’s airframe uses plastic composites as the primary material in its construction. Other plastics of note used in aerospace include PEEK, Ultem, PVF, acrylic and other fluoropolymers.
Why are plastics used so much?
Contrary to the stereotype of cheap plastics burning easily and creating toxic smoke, high-performance plastics are heat and flame resistant. Advanced plastics used in aerospace have very little smoke emission, are resistant to chemicals and do not corrode. In several aircraft disasters it was the smoke inhalation, not the crash itself, that led to the majority of deaths. Air Canada Flight 797 and British Airtours Flight 28M were two such tragic incidents but, thankfully, the increased use of plastics, combined with other safety improvements, has vastly reduced fatal incidents involving smoke since the 1990’s.
Aerospace is just one industry where plastics improve safety and solve maintance issues. For any questions please contact us:
CDN: 1 800 667 0999
USA: 1 866 733 2684