Aircraft Engine Mounts and Pylons: The Aircraft Strength
A jet engine on an average commercial airliner weighs approximately 1,600 lbs. An entire commercial wing itself weighs in at about 95,000 lbs. So how do you attach an extra 2,000 lbs. of engine onto an already 100,000 lb wing structure and keep it from falling off? But wait, we forgot to factor in the present gravitational force pushing and pulling this 2,000 lb engine down and away from the wing during take-off. Point being, engineers overcome an enormous obstacle in attaching a jet engine underneath a wing (that sticks out 150 feet from its central airframe) and takes off against immense gravitational pull. In this article, we will give all praise due to aircraft pylons and engine mounts, the aircraft parts responsible for such an “achievement of attachment”.
The engine mount and pylon of an aircraft require an extreme degree of strength, resilience, and longevity to hold an aircraft engine to a wing. One key form of strength these parts must exhibit is the ability to withstand substantial degrees of heat (up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit). This heat comes from the engine and is termed ‘waste heat’. Primarily, nickel-based alloys are used at extremely high temperatures to ensure this waste heat does not affect a mount/pylon’s ability to hold a scouldering engine.
When high strength is needed at low temperatures, mounts/pylons primarily are composed of high-alloy steels which contain chromium and molybdenum. This metal is stronger, harder, and tougher than carbon steel and exhibits a higher wear resistance and corrosion resistance. When an aircraft’s weight is of key focus, titanium alloy is used, which weighs half as much as steel and thus a perfect candidate for weight reduction.
In addition to temperature and weight, the structural integrity these parts achieve must exhibit high fracture toughness. Aviation manufacturers ensure engine mounts and pylons are built to last the lifetime of the aircraft. On average, this results in mounts/pylons that are in vital operation for 25 to 30 years according to Hans-Peter Freudenthaler, Head of Design Engineering at Bohler Schmiedetechnik GmbH & Co KG.
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