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Video: Composite-Rich Airbus 350 Makes First Flight

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Elizabeth M
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Promising news
Elizabeth M   6/21/2013 7:01:22 AM
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This is great news, Ann, for the future use of composites in aircrafts. This craft uses the most composites so far, is that correct? I think this now shows proof that these lighter materials can work and sets the stage for a whole new phase in aircraft design and manufacturing. The fuel efficiency aspect is a real wiinner--have they said if this was achieved or not?

richnass
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Re: Promising news
richnass   6/21/2013 8:11:15 AM
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I'm afraid all the issues surrounding the Boeing 787 make me skeptical about any plane that introduces new technologies. It seems that the 787 is again having difficulties, making two unscheduled landings this week.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/21/2013 1:43:00 PM
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Rich, from what I saw, this week's Boeing 787 problems had to do with oil-related issues. That said, I'm not sure I want to fly on the 787 for awhile until all its problems are ironed out, including the batteries.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Promising news
Rob Spiegel   6/21/2013 4:44:26 PM
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Nice article Ann. Did the Boeing jet have as great a percentrage of composites as the Airbus? I haven't heard of any problems with composites related to Boeing's troubles.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/24/2013 11:50:39 AM
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Rob, the Airbus has more composites than any other commercial jet to date, including the Boeing 787. And you're right, Boeing's troubles have nothing to do with composites. Although early on last year, there were some delamination problems on the composite skin.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Promising news
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2013 3:01:10 PM
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Boeing has really had its problems, even just this week. It will be interesting to see if Airbus has similar difficulties.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2013 3:03:16 PM
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Oh no, what happened now?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Promising news
Rob Spiegel   6/26/2013 7:16:48 PM
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Ann, a 787 was diverted for mechanical problems on Sunday:

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/23/travel/dreamliner-diverted/index.html

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/27/2013 12:17:39 PM
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Thanks, Rob. So now it's a brake indicator problem--not exactly new technology. At least the most recent problems have been mechanical, and not related to new technologies. OTOH, one wonders why they happened at all.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Promising news
Rob Spiegel   6/27/2013 11:19:09 PM
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Good question, Ann. If it's not new technology, why is there a problem? Also, have you seen the Design News instant poll on whether readers would be willing to fly on the 787?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/28/2013 11:44:34 AM
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Yes, I saw that poll. That's the power of bad press. The fact that this is old tech, not new tech, at fault makes me nervous, because that indicates a systemic problem, like one of QA/maintenance. If anything, you'd think those oversight-type systems would be tightened on the 787 by now, not loosened.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Promising news
Rob Spiegel   7/3/2013 8:50:08 AM
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Good point, Ann. Even though it is old tech that is giving the 787 trouble, someone must be overlooking the old tech. Perhaps they've been overly focused on the new tech.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/21/2013 1:38:36 PM
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That's right, Elizabeth, this has more carbon composites by weight than any other commercial jet so far. But not more than any aircraft--military planes have been successfully flying with very high proportions of carbon fiber composites for decades. In fact, that's where the technology got started.

Charles Murray
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Re: Promising news
Charles Murray   6/23/2013 5:32:10 PM
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I agree this is promising news, Liz, especially since it's a couple weeks ahead of the public schedule. Let's hope it means that the aviation industry in general is moving beyond all the design and production problems that it has been experiencing for the past few years.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Promising news
Elizabeth M   6/24/2013 5:00:24 AM
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I didn't realize this was ahead of schedule--even better news. So it seems like there is a real commitment to this effort if things are moving faster than usual. Usually it's the other way around!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Promising news
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2013 12:01:27 PM
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Although it's true that Airbus flew the 350 a few weeks ahead of its public schedule, the entire plane's design and build cycle still took longer to reach completion, as did the Boeing 787's, than originally anticipated. Changing major structures from metals to composites is a humongous effort, and apparently even more complex and difficult than either company realized. That's saying a lot, considering how much engineering talent they both have. Like Chuck, I hope they can move forward now that they've won this hard-earned knowledge and that commercial aviation is entering a new phase.

a.saji
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Re: Promising news
a.saji   6/29/2013 10:22:19 AM
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@Murray: Yes sounds like that to me too. You need to provide the fullest support towards industries like aviation since they are the things which carries the industry forward if its right on track with technology. 

TJ McDermott
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The big question - Fatigue
TJ McDermott   6/21/2013 9:10:43 PM
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I hope that both Boeing and Airbus publish something of the fatigue testing their respective aircraft are undergoing.  I had a chance to pass by the Boeing fatigue testing fixture last week.

It will be very interesting to compare fatigue results of similar parts in different materials.

 

a.saji
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Re: The big question - Fatigue
a.saji   6/21/2013 11:53:46 PM
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@TJ: Yes indeed and the results will have so many things to prove for the critics.  

far911
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Re: The big question - Fatigue
far911   6/23/2013 7:30:20 AM
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This is a winner for environmental protection as well as aerial pollution reduction which has been a growing concern ever since global warming's alarming situation came into view. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: The big question - Fatigue
Ann R. Thryft   6/24/2013 11:52:42 AM
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I agree, TJ, it would be really neat if the companies published something on their fatigue results. Boeing has been very mum about such details of their plane. I hope Airbus is more forthcoming.

notarboca
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Re: The big question - Fatigue
notarboca   6/30/2013 2:38:48 AM
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Ann, TJ-- I, too, would like to see composite fatigue results.  Fatigue kills airframe components!  The only way the US Air Force has been able to keep B-52s airworthy is to address this, since the wing flexes about 6 feet with every takeoff and landing cycle.  Quite a maintenence effort.

I doubt Airbus has taken a horizontal stablizer into a test bed and twisted/jerked it six ways from Sunday to see fatigue results.  Most probably rely on computer modelling, but I hope not.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: The big question - Fatigue
Ann R. Thryft   7/3/2013 12:33:40 PM
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notarboca, I'd be very surprised if Airbus *didn't* do the type of tests you mention. The 15 slides shown in my previous story on the 350, "Slideshow: Anatomy of a Composite-Heavy Jetliner"
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=264009
are a mere smattering of all the various press releases and announcements made on the many, many steps during this entire process, and many of those represent a ton of different tests. Commercial aircraft must go through a very rigorous testing process, much more extensive than that of military aircraft. We've discussed this, regarding composites, here:
http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=235863
and here:
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=235214
Airbus seems to have learned from Boeing's mistakes.



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