What are Aircraft Insulation Materials?

Aircraft insulation materials are majorly utilized to offer thermal, acoustic, anti-vibration, fire-barrier and electrical insulation in order to improve passengers’ comfort. Additionally, these materials also function to optimize external temperature fluctuations and excessive noise generated by the aircraft in the passenger cabin and on the flight deck.

Aircraft engine and aerodynamics of flight generate noise, fluctuates temperature, and cause vibrations, which causes discomfort to passengers and crew. For example, at 35,000 feet above the ground, the outside temperature is about -60 Degrees Fahrenheit, which amplifies the pressure on the overall aircraft system. This boosts the requirement for aircraft insulation materials, as these help in stabilizing cabin temperature by filling the space between the interior wall and the aircraft’s fuselage. Thus, the demand for aircraft insulation materials is expected to rise to ensure temperature control and decrease noise inside an aircraft.

Six Considerable Points about Aircraft Insulation Materials

1. Noise Reduction
As explained above, aircrafts necessarily generate a lot of unwanted noise. The common rumble or roar heard from a plane is generated from the engines and air flow, which flows through the fuselage and overall structure. In order to make the airplane interior rid of the noise, a combination of thermal/acoustic blankets, elastomeric isolators, and other noise reduction materials are required. Some materials damp the sound more efficiently as compared to others. Generally, materials are selected that can offer the necessary sound transmission loss (STL) without affecting the overall weight, space, and aesthetic requirements.

2. Insulation
Aircraft insulation is extremely vital aspect as it serves a range of purposes beyond just temperature/climate control control. Airplane insulation is utilized to improve acoustic, thermal, fire resistant, anti-vibration, and electrical insulation properties. However, despite these various purposes, it’s still crucial to consider how well the material blocks thermal transfer. At 35,000 feet above ground, the temperature is very low in combination with extreme pressure; thus aircraft insulation material helps in keeping the cabin warm by filling the space between the interior wall and the aircraft’s fuselage. An ideal aircraft insulation material helps in regulating a comfortable interior environment and also drastically cut both noise level and vibration.

3. Fire Resistance
Fire retardant material is of utmost importance for every aircraft.  Chosen materials should offer proven flame-resistant features to minimize the potential of fire and prevent or slow down flame spread if a fire were to occur. This helps to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members. Most aircraft interior materials  mandated by FAA  needs to be self-extinguishing.

4. Durability
While passenger safety is very crucial aspect when selecting aircraft interior materials, it’s also crucial to have a durable product that decreases overall replacement costs.
During the selection of textile materials in particular, two factors are considered the most; fiber blend and fabric construction.
Fiber blends that use durable fibers such as aramids or nylon make the fabric resistant to abrasions and offer long-lasting durability. These types of blends also consist of much higher tear strength. Fabric construction  substantially affects the durability of aircraft interior materials.

5. Cleanability
An airplane is a confined space that transports people 24 hours a day. To avoid stains, bacteria growth, mildew, and odors, choose aircraft interior materials that contain antimicrobial characteristics and are extremely easy to clean. This is especially crucial for flooring. Generally, a non-textile, non-woven aircraft flooring solution is considered for maximum cleanability. Some airlines prefer a woven option, for which a high performance flooring product that is engineered to be resistant to water, most oils, chemicals, grease, and even mildew is selected along with a non-absorbent underlay.

6. Static Resistance
Without anti-static measures in place, electrostatic charge can accumulate during a flight on both the outer and inner surfaces of the aircraft. This should be prevented in order to avoid disruptions in flight communications, refueling operations and even potential explosions in fuel areas.
The aircraft industry has adopted few methods to minimize or eliminate this electrostatic charge accumulation; however, the most common is the technique of utilizing static dissipative materials.

Global Market Scenario for Aircraft Insulation Materials

According to a detailed report published by Growth Market Reports (GMR), the global aircraft insulation materials market was valued at USD 18,565.8 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 33,570.3 million by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 7.8% during the forecast period, 2020-2027. The demand for lightweight aircraft in the military and commercial sector is growing, which in turn, is boosting the usage of lightweight insulators. Many manufacturers in the aircraft insulation segment are investing heavily in research activities to develop and launch cost-effective and lightweight insulators, which can have modular functionalities and high recyclable components.

Market Dynamics and Trends

Thermal insulation is used all over the aircraft except few areas such as fuel usage below the passenger floor, crown area, and passenger cabins. Acoustics insulation materials offer high-efficiency and minimum amount of volume and weight due to which it is substantially utilized in aircraft. Electric insulation offers protection from sensitive electric systems and other components of aircraft from heat and interference. Thus, it is mostly utilized in backplates, switchgear, switchboards, flexible laminates, and winding wires.

  • Rising demand for lightweight aircraft in the military and commercial sector and imposition of several favorable standards & norms to improve flight safety is boosting the usage of aircraft insulation materials across the world.
  • Many manufacturers in the aircraft insulation segment are investing heavily in research activities to develop and launch cost-effective and lightweight insulators, which can offer modular functionalities and high recyclable components.
  • Aviation regulatory authorities across the globe, such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are imposing several standards, procedures and norms to improve flight safety.
  • High labor costs and lack of efficient recycling technology for insulation materials are projected to restraint the growth of the aircraft insulation market. Moreover, EASA, FAA, and other aviation organizations are laying strict rules on paint manufacturing and chemical companies. This, in turn, is resulting in products having a limited shelf life, thus requiring replacement at regular intervals. These factors are projected to restrain the growth of the market due to their less stability.
  • Rising demand for the usage of composite materials is projected to create opportunities for the aircraft insulation market players. These materials can help reduce noise and vibration while increasing fire safety.

Regional Outlook

In terms of regions, the market has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America is a promising region for the market. It accounted for a 45.7% share of the market in 2019. The market in North America is expected to expand at a CAGR of 8.1% during the forecast period. Rising spending on defense aircraft and the military is driving the regional market growth. Moreover, the presence of major industry players such as Triumph Group Inc., Esterline Technologies Corporation, and DuPont, is further augmenting the market growth.

Competitive Landscape and Developments

Key players in the market include DuPont de Nemours, Inc., BASF SE, Zodiac Aerospace (Safran), Zotefoams plc, Rogers Corporation, Evonik Industries, Triumph Group., 3M, DUNMORE, and Polymer Technologies, Inc.

The prominent players in the market are utilizing strategies such as product launches, mergers & acquisitions, and contracts & collaborations. These strategies are expected to deliver effective goods and high-performance goods, supporting market laws, and better client satisfaction.

  • In Dec 2019, Rogers Corporation launched PORON SlimGrip Plus Foam, which is a softer material with increased cohesive strength and provides ease of processing.
  • In June 2019, DuPont Transportation & Industrial showcased solutions for the aerospace industry at the 2019 edition of the International Paris Air Show.
  • In April 2019, Safran’s acquisition of Zodiac Aerospace led to a 36.9% increase in the French group’s first-quarter adjusted revenue to USD 6.44 billion.
  • In May 2019, RUAG MRO International successfully completed the first installation, in Europe, of the thermal acoustic insulation system based on a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). It is designed by Aearo Technologies LLC, a 3M company. The system was made for the Dassault Falcon F900DX business aircraft.