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The Importance of Vacuums in the Airline Industry

Aircraft are marvelous machines that have provided people far and wide with a means to explore even the remote areas of the world. Apart from exploration, aircraft are also used for military purposes, in addition to a wide range of other applications. To achieve such ends, aircraft are designed with numerous systems and devices which ensure they are working optimally. Regardless of the type (military, commercial, or private), all aircraft require a vacuum to operate safely. If you are asking yourself how and why aircraft benefit from the use of vacuums, some of the major beneficiaries include assembly, heat treating, brake production, and many others. 

Aircraft Manufacturing

The manufacturing of aircraft consists of a series of complex processes that require precision and skill. While commercial aircraft take between 4-6 months to manufacture, fighter jets need 6-9 months, with private jets taking the cake for necessitating nearly 18 months to manufacture. The airplane manufacturing industry utilizes an array of vacuum applications in the manufacturing process like lifting, moving, and clamping plane parts.

Other applications of vacuums in aircraft manufacturing:

  • Holding aircraft parts during the drilling, sanding, and riveting
  • Gripping parts on trimming machines, as well as numerous aircraft parts made of different metals
  • Eliminating fumes and shavings during machining or drilling operations using HEPA vacuums
  • Vacuum metalizing and spray coating parts of the airplane

Metal Treatment and Hardening

Vacuum heat treatment is used on aircraft parts like engines and exhaust components that must be capable of handling high heat conditions and other stresses during normal flying operations. As airplanes are made of aluminum, stainless steel, tungsten, and titanium, they are susceptible to rust or corrosion. That being said, the choice of metal must directly correspond to the proper heat treatment.

Regardless of the treatment selected, vacuums are always needed. This is because the application of heat can cause metal to react with air at an accelerated rate, otherwise known as oxidation. To avoid this, it is critical that one removes all the air with a vacuum chamber before heating the metal. Additionally, a vacuum hardening process can also improve many properties of the metal, such as its strength, ductility, and elasticity.

Vacuum in Brake Development

In general, airplanes are equipped with carbon brake discs for landing. Like other plane parts, the brakes require the use of a vacuum at several steps in the manufacturing process.

Below, we have cataloged where vacuums contribute to the manufacturing process:

  • Carbonization: is the process increasing the amount of carbon to reduce non-carbon components in the brake disc material fibers.
  • Carbon Infiltration: consists of subjecting each disc to a process known as chemical vapor deposition or infiltration where they spend many months in a furnace at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius.
  • Graphization: involves machining the discs before having them undergo a heat treatment process that transforms the disordered carbon atom structures into 3D crystals of pure graphite.
  • Painting: the discs reduces the likelihood of catalytic oxidation and thermal oxidation.

Vacuums Used for Airline Performances

Excellent airline performance is of the utmost importance to the aviation industry. For this reason, vacuums are extensively used in plane control and function, as well as landing operations and engine maintenance.


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