Precious metals such as gold and silver find use in the aviation industry, as does platinum. The industry uses these metals in the manufacture of aircraft engines, as well as in the manufacture of smaller engine parts. It is possible to recover precious metals from aircraft engines and engine parts, after airline managements scraps these aircraft parts. (See References 1 & 2)

Aircraft Engines

The aviation industry uses precious metals in the manufacture of aircraft engines. Gold and silver, as well as palladium and platinum, are used in the manufacture of different types of aircraft engines, such as CF6 and the JT3D, according to the Aviation Suppliers Association. JT8D, JT9D, and RB211 aircraft engines also contain these metals. (See References 1 & 2)

Engine Parts

Typically, an aircraft engine has up to 23 parts that contain precious metals. Various aircraft engine parts that use precious metals include:

  • vanes
  • stators
  • blades
  • fuel nozzles
  • fuel manifolds
  • Tobi Ducts
  • heat exchangers

Parts of an aircraft’s engine turbine system and avionics system use gold and silver. And aircraft blades use platinum. (See References 1 & 2)

Recovery of Precious Metals

After the life of an aircraft engine is over, the aviation industry can still recover precious metal from aircraft engines and their parts. Companies that engage in such recovery typically sort and test the aircraft parts in order to get the most value out of them. They expose the parts to radioactive source so as to identify the precious metals and separate the parts that have them. Then, the recovery process involves leaching the metals out of the parts that hold them. Recovery of precious metals can account for up to 50 percent of an aircraft engine’s recycling value. The recovery value of precious metal in a JT8D engine, for instance, could go to as high as $18,625, as of 2010, Aviation Week estimates. (See References 1 & 2)