The Materials You Need When You Need Them

How exactly did Tungsten Alloy allow Captain Sullenberger to safely land his plane in the Hudson River and save all those lives?

tungsten alloys ram air turbine RAT helps provide emergency power

On January 15, 2009 bird strikes on US Airways Flight 1549 occured shortly after takeoff from New York City's LaGuardia airport that resulted in loss of power in both main engines. Fortunately, commercial planes like these have a "RAT" (ram air turbine) which is a small wind turbine connected to an electrical generator (or hydraulic pump). When the aircraft lost power, the RAT was deployed to generate power from the aircraft’s airstream which in turn powered the electrical generator in the "APU" (auxiliary power unit).

Due to their density (1.5 times that of lead) Tungsten Alloys are incorporated in the RAT to provide the weight needed to help lower and stabilize the RAT from the strong force of the airstream. For flight 1549, the density of the Tungsten Alloy used in the RAT allowed power to be sent to the APU which provided the emergency power enabling Captain Sullenberger to make the needed flight maneuvers to bring the plane down safely.

Tungsten Alloys for Counterweights, Vibration Absorption and Balancing in the Aviation Industry

Tungsten Alloy winglet components reduce vibrationsTungsten Alloy rotor weights static dynamic balancing and vibration reduction

Because of the high density of Tungsten Alloys (approximately 50% denser than lead) they have wide implementation in vibration dampening and balancing applications.

Many commercial airplanes use winglets to reduce wingtip vortices resulting from the pressure differential of the lower and upper wing surfaces. As the airflow moves towards and curls around the wingtips whirling air masses stream out behind the airplane causing an energy loss. Winglets reduce drag and increase lift, reducing the size of these whirling air masses. Tungsten Alloy components found in these winglets reduce in-flight vibrations and flutter. This can translate into higher cruising speeds or better gas mileage. Fuel costs savings can range from 4% to 6%.

Tungsten Alloys are also employed in each blade of Blackhawk helicopters for balancing purposes. Chinook helicopters include Tungsten Alloy weights under their seats to reduce vibration. The ability to fit a denser material into a smaller volume of space is essential to these applications.

In addition, Tungsten Alloys are employed in the manufacture of a plane’s fuselage. In the riveting process, a bucking bar (made of Tungsten Alloy) reduces the damage to the operators hands by absorbing the shock during the riveting process.

Other Tungsten Alloys Applications
Tungsten Alloys have many other commercial applications including X-ray and gamma radiation shielding as well as counterweights in high performance engines. Tungsten Alloys are used in high temperature tooling including aluminum die-casting and extrusion dies where conventional tooling equipment lacks the wear resistance and the toughness required at elevated temperatures. These alloys are also found in sporting equipment such as golf heads and professional darts. Tungsten Alloys have properties similar to mild steel and are machinable.

For additional information on Tungsten Alloys, Physical and Mechanical Properties, Chemistry, Specifications and forms available from stock; download a copy of our Tungsten Alloys data sheet.

For information on all our Refractory Metals and Alloys, Physical and Mechanical Properties, Chemistry, Specifications and forms available from stock; download a copy of our Refractory Metals and Alloys data sheet.

Or call us now to speak with an EFI materials expert or to place an order.

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Refractory Metals and Alloys

Ed Fagan Inc. stocks a variety of refractory metals and alloys for a wide range of applications. EFI carries:
Molybdenum Lanthanum Oxide
TZM Molybdenum
Tungsten Alloy

And we also have a large selection of other types of specialty metals and alloys for high technology applications, including:
Controlled Expansion Alloys
Electrical/Electronic Nickel
Soft Magnetic Alloys
Hard to Find Materials