‘Lighter than Air’ the Age of Composites for Aerospace” Surendra M.Vaidya

Surendra M. Vaidya, Executive Vice President and Business Head of Godrej Aerospace, a part of India’s USD 5 billion Godrej group, joined the firm in 1987 to set up a metallurgy unit, and soon went on to develop their aerospace business. Today, the company has become a supplier of critical components to aerospace companies such as France’s Snecma, Eaton and Moog, US’s GE and Israel’s Rafael.

Excerpts of the interview of Surendra M.Vaidya:

How much steel does Godrej Aerospace buy and what is its use?

In the aerospace industry steel is not very widely used because of its high density. The weight of steel is very high as compared to titanium, aluminium and other materials. Because of its limited application our consumption every year is 5 to 6 tons of steel.
Today’s trend is to use more and more lighter materials. In fact, Boeing and Airbus both have sufficient funding for their R&D to create materials which are termed as ‘lighter than air’. That’s the concept that makes a case for steel sponge or titanium sponge or aluminium sponge.
So the basic metal will be the same but it will have fine porosities. That way weight will come down without compromising on the structural rigidity or integrity.
We started with wood in aerospace then moved to steel with it becoming cheap and easily available but then the demand on fuel efficiency started becoming high and that is when lighter material such as aluminium, titanium and other exotic material such as columbium came in.

What is the ratio of metal to composites in the latest aircraft?

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and A350 of Airbus which are the two latest editions in their series has more composites than metal in the structural part. What we see from outside is all made out of carbon composites.

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