Page 1 of 1

Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:48 pm
by ITSTours
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?)

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:54 pm
by BlueberryWheats
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:58 pm
by ITSTours
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:00 pm
by hoons90
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:30 pm
by BravoOne
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:02 pm
by GalaxyFlyer
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:25 pm
by HighFlyerIT
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonymy

Inviato dal mio Redmi Note 7 utilizzando Tapatalk

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:02 am
by Max Q
I think it’s an A.netism

Like the obsession with ‘change of gauge’

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:05 am
by flyingturtle
"...when United still flew the old CFRP..."

-- our grandchildren

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:19 am
by VS11
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:11 am
by dangle
And it is reflected in this BBC series Flying Heavy Metal with Bruce Dickinson:

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

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:26 am
by ITSTours
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:34 am
by KFTG
Because they are made of metal.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:41 am
by Ziyulu
You don't see the term "metal" on tickets or boarding passes.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:46 am
by chidino
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.)

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:20 am
by aklrno
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.

Re: Why is an aircraft called "metal"?

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:41 am
by StormRider
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...