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February 2006 edition

Plated composites; the answer to corrosion in airframe electrical interconnects?

By Greg Burland and Alan Riddell

Because of its light weight and strength, aluminium is widely used in the construction of aircraft components, including, in many cases, the shells for electrical connectors. To a certain extent, aluminium protects itself from corrosion by forming an oxide layer on its surface when it comes into contact with the air. This self-protection is, however, inadequate for aircraft applications, where the surface must resist corrosion in the presence of a range of chemicals, from acids to alkalis.

Any surface treatment adopted to prevent corrosion in electrical interconnect systems must, however, provide good electrical conductivity. This rules out anodising, which is used very successfully in non-electrical applications. The traditional solution in aircraft has been to use cadmium or nickel plat....

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