The Boeing 787 Dreamliner: Composites on Trial Part II

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Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is 80% composite materials by volume and 50% by weight. Here’s an assessment in minute detail. Continue reading


Image: Aviation Explorer

Boeing 787-8, Prototype

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is 80% composite materials by volume and 50% by weight. Rising fuel costs mandate widespread use of composites, but questions about long term structural stability have yet to be resolved. In the second of a three-part series, we assess the Dreamliner in minute detail, while also bringing you news of a dramatic blog post on composite fuselage cracks written by an industry insider.

Boeing 787 / Dreamliner –

Composite materials in aircraft design are now subjected to increasing and skeptical scrutiny. That searchlight is on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as well as Airbus aircraft. The Dreamliner program began in April, 2004 and there is a large, international, network of parts manufacturers. Boeing’s 777-200ER and 300 ER are sometimes viewed by the press as competition to the Airbus 350, but more often are compared to the Airbus jetliners A340-500HGW and A340-600HGW. Composite fuselage parts account for 9% of a Boeing’s 777 total weight and include the cabin floor and rudder.

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Image: Maurice King

Boeing Wide Body, Aircraft Assembly Plant at Everett, Washington / 747, 777, 787

Final assembly of the 787-8 Prototype began May 21, 2007 at Everett Washington USA after the successful manufacture and delivery of major components from partners in several countries. FHI and KHI in Japan contributed the forward fuselage, center wing and center wheel. Each fuselage barrel is made in one piece and the barrel sections are joined end to end to form the fuselage, thereby eliminating the need for the 50,000 fasteners required to build a conventional aluminum fuselage. This composite fuselage also allows for higher cabin pressure during flight.

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