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?
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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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