What is "Airplane Fabric" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 18-Apr-2024 ( ago)
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Airplane Fabric: An Exploration of Aviation's Textile Backbone

Airplane Fabric: Soaring High with Textile Technology

The History and Origin of Airplane Fabric

The relationship between aviation and textiles dates back to the 19th century when balloonists used lightweight, durable fabrics as coverings for their air vessels. The Wright brothers utilized a specially-woven cotton "Pride of the West" for their groundbreaking flight in 1903. Technological advancements in the 20th century led to the development of synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester, which outperformed their natural counterparts in strength, durability, and resistance to environmental factors.

Types of Airplane Fabric

  • Natural Airplane Fabric: Early aircraft employed fabrics like cotton and linen due to their lightness and strength. These fabrics, however, required frequent maintenance and were susceptible to weathering.
  • Synthetic Airplane Fabric: Fabrics such as polyester and nylon, and high-performance textiles like Kevlar and Nomex, are widely used today for their superior durability, resistance to UV rays, heat, and chemicals, as well as their light weight.

Tips for Handling Airplane Fabric

  • Storage in a clean, dry, and UV-protected environment is crucial for preserving the fabric's integrity.
  • Use appropriate adhesives and sealants, ensuring they are compatible with the fabric material to prevent damaging reactions.
  • Avoid excessive tension during application as it may lead to fabric deformation or weakening.

Major International Manufacturers and Users

  • DuPont: DuPont is a pioneer in high-performance materials, with products like Kevlar and Nomex employed in aviation for their exceptional strength-to-weight ratios and resistance to fire and chemicals.
  • Teijin: Japanese company Teijin is known for its high-quality polyester fabrics used in aviation, contributing significantly to the durability and longevity of aircraft.
  • Boeing: Boeing, a leading aircraft manufacturer, utilizes advanced textile materials to enhance the efficiency, safety, and performance of its airplanes.
  • Airbus: Airbus, a European multinational aerospace corporation, is a significant user of advanced textiles, incorporating them in various aspects of aircraft design from seats to safety equipment.
  • FAA: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the standards for airplane fabric in the US, ensuring they meet the required safety and performance parameters.

Applications of Airplane Fabric

  • Airplane Interiors: Airplane fabric is widely used for seating, curtains, carpets, and other interior elements, balancing comfort, aesthetics, and functionality.
  • Safety Equipment: High-performance textiles are critical for safety equipment, such as fire-resistant flight suits, parachutes, and life vests.
  • Exterior Coverings: While modern airplanes primarily use metal for their exteriors, fabric coverings are still used in smaller, lightweight aircraft and in areas requiring flexibility, such as wing flaps.


The journey of airplane fabric, from the simple cotton coverings of the Wright brothers' flyer to the advanced synthetic materials of modern aircraft, illuminates the textile industry's pivotal role in the evolution of aviation. The ever-increasing demands for safety, efficiency, and durability necessitate ongoing advancements in textile science, and the industry continues to rise to these challenges. The enduring relevance of airplane fabric serves as a testament to the ingenuity of textile engineers and manufacturers, and the interdependence of the textile and aviation industries. As we anticipate future developments in aviation, from supersonic passenger flights to space tourism, the role of textiles in these achievements cannot be underestimated. Indeed, as long as humanity continues to soar the skies, textiles will be right there with us, woven into the very fabric of our journey.

Airplane Fabric
Usually a plain weave, mercerized fabric made of long staple cotton which when treated with dope is used as airplane fabric to cover wings, fuselage or tails. Also used for boys? suits, shirtings, collars and cuffs, skiwear and uniforms.

Some other terms

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