The field of aerospace engineering incorporates springs in several operations, such as control system management, shock absorption in landing gear, and deployment of solar panels in satellites. The process of designing these springs needs meticulous attention because they operate under demanding circumstances like extremely hot or cold temperatures, varying pressures, and substantial forces. An incorrect design or inappropriate choice of material can lead to system failures, as evidenced by the 1999 Mars Climate Orbiter incident. In this context, our discussion will include the different uses of springs in aerospace, industry design standards, and thoughtful selection of materials to let these components perform reliably in aerospace equipment.

Springs in Aircraft and Spacecraft

Springs in aircraft and spacecraft retain a variety of uses. They play a role in engine valves, wing flaps, landing gears, and cockpit control systems. Within an aircraft's landing gear, coil springs serve to absorb landing shock, preventing potential aircraft damage. The springs' design parameters should be precisely adjusted; springs that are too soft can produce a difficult landing, while springs that are too rigid might lead to excessive impact shock.

In communication devices and connections, springs' performance is largely influenced by their material composition. Phosphor bronze springs are often used in high-frequency communication devices due to their electrical conductivity and elastic qualities. These materials support continuous communication during flights.

Springs in spacecraft are utilized in door-opening mechanisms, the deployment of scientific instruments, and safety and launch sequence mechanisms. They support weight, absorb shocks, and are a part of tissue regeneration systems in space. Springs must be chosen based on their load-bearing capabilities, which can greatly differ depending on mission objectives. For instance, the deployment mechanism of scientific instruments on the Mars Rover uses springs. These springs provide a balance between strength and weight to allow for effective deployment in Martian terrain.

Stringent Aerospace Standards

The construction and usage of springs in the aerospace sector adhere to specific standards, namely AS9100 and SAE Aerospace Material Specifications (AMS). These standards ensure that the springs used are functional, safe, and reliable. Any deviation from these standards can affect the respective mission, therefore, compliance is required.

AS9100 is a quality management system specific to the industry. It monitors the quality of aerospace springs during production. As an illustration, valve springs in aircraft engines are subject to AS9100 compliance, which promotes consistent engine performance and safety.

AMS assists in choosing appropriate materials for aerospace springs. It verifies their ability to meet high-performance requirements. Inconel 718, a superalloy known for its strength and resistance to corrosion, is an example of a material sanctioned for spring manufacturing under AMS.

These standards dictate the entire lifecycle of a spring, from material selection, design, production, and testing, to disposal. Standards require specific dimensional tolerances, resistance to corrosion and high temperatures, and comprehensive tests for qualities such as tensile strength, ductility, and yield strength. A practical example would be a compression spring in aircraft landing gear, which must meet certain dimensional tolerances to function repeatedly without failure.

Aerospace Spring Materials and Design Practices

Key characteristics for spring materials in aerospace include stress resistance, temperature endurance, and corrosion resistance. These characteristics guide the choice of material and the design of the spring.

Inconel, Elgiloy, and A286 Stainless Steel are materials often used. Inconel is a superalloy which mainly consists of nickel and chromium. It is known for its resistance to stress cracks that extreme temperatures and corrosion can cause. However, its high modulus of elasticity leads to stiffer springs for a given size in comparison to springs made from other materials.

The use of A286 Stainless Steel is also widespread. Although it is more expensive than other stainless steels, A286's durability, tolerance for high temperatures, corrosion resistance, and oxidation resistance justify its use where these attributes are needed.

The optimal design of a spring for a specific application requires consideration of factors such as spring rate, stress levels, and life duration. For instance, the design of a spring for an afterburner fuel nozzle in a jet engine necessitates a material that can withstand high temperatures without deforming and can maintain the necessary spring force. Using a material like Inconel, along with a carefully optimized design process, helps ensure the spring's durability and resilience.


In conclusion, springs are frequently used in the aerospace industry and play an integral part in the performance of both aircraft and spacecraft. Choosing the appropriate spring and designing one involves careful consideration of the properties of the chosen material and the anticipated operational needs. With the ongoing progress in aerospace technology, spring designs are continually evolving, with an increased focus on longer lifespan.