Plastic fuselages are an undoubted challenge because previous commercial passenger jet fuselages have been metal and no-one knew how best to fabricate a large composite pressure vessel that has to accommodate hundreds of passengers.
ct to repeated thermal and pressure cycles, to detecti
Boeing’s bold adoption of a predominantly composite airframe, including the fuselage,
The European contender is 53% composite,
een to have the weight and performance benefits that composites can brin
rom barely 10% composites content in its B777 airliner to the B787’s 50%
xpertise while progressively adding fairings, nacelles, empennages, control surfaces and wings to its composite structures portfolio.
Although low-weight metal solutions, primarily aluminium/lithium alloy and metal/composite hybrids such as GLARE, were considered, c
mposites won out because of the prospects for greater integration, fewer parts and fasteners, lower maintenance and, it seems, the favourable attitude of airlines to the precedent set by Boeing.
Boeing that have led to a likely
three-year delay in first deliveries of B787s
manufacture ramps up towards the 10 aircraft per month rate targeted.
Airbus has opted to clothe a pre-fabricated fuselage skeleton with large carbon fibre composite panels. This less radical solution reduces risk
panel properties can be optimised to their locations in the fuselage (
ess expensive autoclaves and the fact that having a panel fail at post-manufacture inspection for any reason is less of a setback than losing a complete barrel. Stringers and most fra
The nose section is only partly composit
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ecause the one-piece carbon fibre structure that had earlier been considered would have required titanium reinforcement to meet bird strike requirements, making it uncompetitive on cost.