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What Is Airplane Skin?

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Airplanes are methodically manufactured so that they can withstand the harsh environment of high-altitude flights. At 30,000 feet, temperatures can range from minus 40 degrees to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Along with these subfreezing temperatures, airplanes are exposed to turbulence, ultraviolet (UV) sunlight, moisture and other environmental elements.

Fortunately, airplanes are designed with a protective layer so that they can withstand these environmental elements. Known as the skin, it serves as a membrane-like barrier. The skin will protect the airplane’s body from environmental-related damage.

Overview of Airplane Skin

The skin is the outermost layer covering an airplane’s body. From the wings to the fuselage and the tail, nearly every part of an airplane’s body is covered in the skin. As previously mentioned, it’s designed to protect the airplane’s body from environmental-related damage.

Like the skin on our bodies, airplane skin isn’t particularly thick. The skin on a typical commercial airliner, for instance, is about one-eighth of an inch thick. Some airplanes have even thinner skin. The skin serves as a thin, protective layer over the airplane’s body.

What Is Airplane Skin Made Of?

Different airplanes feature different types of skin. Some of them use aluminum skin. Aluminum is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant material. Even when exposed to moisture on a daily basis, it won’t rust. It’s not particularly strong, but the lightweight and corrosion-resistant properties of aluminum make it a popular choice for airplane skin.

Other airplanes use titanium skin. Titanium is a stronger, more durable metal. The downside is that it weighs more and costs more than aluminum. If weight isn’t a concern, manufacturers may create an airplane’s skin out of titanium.

Rather than using plain titanium skin, some airplanes use titanium alloy skin. Titanium alloy still consists primarily of titanium. But like with other alloys, it contains other metals or compounds. It’s oftentimes preferred over plain titanium. With other metals or compounds, titanium alloy exhibits unique features that aren’t found in plain titanium.

Steel is another common material from which airplane skin is made. Steel is classified as an iron alloy. It’s comprised of iron with a small amount of carbon (either with or without other compounds). Some airplanes use steel skin.

In Conclusion

Airplanes feature an outer layer known as the skin. It’s typically made of aluminum, titanium, titanium alloy or steel. The skin protects the airplane’s body from the cold temperatures, UV sunlight and moisture of high-altitude flights.

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