After WWII, the US military was pushing new material technology for use in supersonic aircraft. Titanium metallurgical practices were developed at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in the 1950’s specifically for that purpose. The U2 spy plane engineered by Lockheed at its skunk works was built entirely with titanium.
Later in the early 1970’s, Boeing designed a supersonic transport plane (SST) that required titanium because of its strength and elevated temperature resistance. The titanium industry geared up for what was intended to be very high demand.
Unfortunately for the industry, the plane was never produced commercially. During that time, military aircraft were pushing the limits of speed and maneuverability. Titanium was the only material capable of meeting the performance demands of modern fighter jets.
Today, titanium and its various alloys are commonly used in both military and commercial aircraft. Titanium components can be found in both airframe and engine assemblies. Landing gear, fasteners, passenger seats, engine frames, engine fan blades or any application that requires corrosion and heat resistance are commonly made from titanium. Titanium replaces aluminum on parts that come in contact with carbon fiber to prevent galvanic corrosion.
Because of its high strength to weight ratio, titanium in commercial aircraft improves fuel efficiencies and lowers operating costs. Lower reciprocating mass makes titanium an excellent choice for rotating parts in aircraft engines.