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ITSTours
Topic Author
Posts: 585
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Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:48 pm

I understand that a "metal" is an industry jargon for an airplane, used especially for indicating the actual carrier that operates the flight.

Airfarewatchdog's definition: (https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/44 ... ould-know/ )
"Metal is industry slang for which carrier's aircraft is operating the flight. For example, a nonstop flight from Boston (BOS) to Paris (CDG) can be purchased on the Delta website, and through a codeshare agreement will actually be flown on an Air France airplane. Therefore the flight is ticketed by Delta but flown on Air France "metal.""

But, where did this come from? While it is obvious that an aircraft is made of metal (with notable exceptions of 787 and 350),
I wonder who started to call it a metal.

Does anybody have an etymological source?

(And should we call them a "plastic" from now and on?)
 
BlueberryWheats
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:54 pm

ITSTours wrote:
I understand that a "metal" is an industry jargon for an airplane, used especially for indicating the actual carrier that operates the flight...

...While it is obvious that an aircraft is made of metal


I think that's about the long and short of it. Same as people may refer to an aircraft as a bird (eg. We took off behind a British Airways bird) or a car as a set of wheels. I'd day it's more slang than jargon.
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ITSTours
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:58 pm

BlueberryWheats wrote:
ITSTours wrote:
I understand that a "metal" is an industry jargon for an airplane, used especially for indicating the actual carrier that operates the flight...

...While it is obvious that an aircraft is made of metal


I think that's about the long and short of it. Same as people may refer to an aircraft as a bird (eg. We took off behind a British Airways bird) or a car as a set of wheels. I'd day it's more slang than jargon.


As in "metal-neutral joint venture", it is not just an internet slang. This is used in an official document.
 
hoons90
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:00 pm

ITSTours wrote:

As in "metal-neutral joint venture", it is not just an internet slang. This is used in an official document.


I guess that colloquialisms sometimes make their way into official documents for the sake of simplicity.
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BravoOne
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:30 pm

I had never heard the term "metal" beofre viewing this website in spite of 50+ years working around airliners. I think it is a recent term conceived by the airliner geek community. Works for me as it does convey an image appropriate for the airliner enthusiast community.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:02 pm

BlueberryWheats wrote:
ITSTours wrote:
I understand that a "metal" is an industry jargon for an airplane, used especially for indicating the actual carrier that operates the flight...

...While it is obvious that an aircraft is made of metal


I think that's about the long and short of it. Same as people may refer to an aircraft as a bird (eg. We took off behind a British Airways bird) or a car as a set of wheels. I'd day it's more slang than jargon.


If you “took off behind a British bird”; she would be flying the plane. :D

Agreed, Bravo One; never heard the term before coming here. I called a plane; just ahead of USAF generation that called it a “jet”. Always sounded funny to me.
 
HighFlyerIT
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:25 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymy

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Max Q
Posts: 8507
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:02 am

I think it’s an A.netism

Like the obsession with ‘change of gauge’
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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flyingturtle
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:05 am

"...when United still flew the old CFRP..."

-- our grandchildren
Last edited by flyingturtle on Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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VS11
Posts: 1661
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2001 6:34 am

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:19 am

I think it started with the very phrase that was referred : metal-neutral - to describe the essence of the JVs. It is an accurate and nifty phrase.
 
dangle
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Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:45 pm

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:11 am

And it is reflected in this BBC series Flying Heavy Metal with Bruce Dickinson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqd17LoZd5o
 
ITSTours
Topic Author
Posts: 585
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:26 am

dangle wrote:
And it is reflected in this BBC series Flying Heavy Metal with Bruce Dickinson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqd17LoZd5o


This is interesting, so at least it existed in or before 2005. Thanks.
 
KFTG
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:34 am

Because they are made of metal.
 
Ziyulu
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:41 am

You don't see the term "metal" on tickets or boarding passes.
 
chidino
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Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:36 pm

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:46 am

I'm guessing, but I always find the real explanations much more life-like. I'd guess "metal" came as a correction to somebody who referred to some WWII aircraft as "made of steel" or some such, and some engineer leaning over and saying "Could you use the word 'metal' or something? It's aluminum...", just like a good engineer does. (My dad was one... you get to understand the understated language.) I have no proof, but somehow the aviation jock seeming to mock by saying "metal" just rings true to this aviation romantic. (Maybe just a memory of my dad.)
 
aklrno
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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:18 pm

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:20 am

The word was used in the movie Catch Me If You Can that was set in the 60’s. Frank Abagnale used it as an example of jargon he had to learn.
 
StormRider
Posts: 104
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Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:41 am

dangle wrote:
And it is reflected in this BBC series Flying Heavy Metal with Bruce Dickinson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqd17LoZd5o


Anything with Bruce in it is automatically great...

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