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Depleted Uranium In Aircraft  
User currently offlineSmithfly114 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 243 posts, RR: 1
Posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4194 times:

Hello all

Tonight in my environmental studies class, a guy ( who tends to be a bit of a conspiracy theorist) said that Depleted Uranium is used in "ALL AIRLINERS, OF ALL THE AIRLINES" He said it is used as a ballast. I almost attacked him from my chair!

I came home tonight and looked it up. Sure enough I found information suggesting that it is indeed used in several military aircraft and even mentioned the 747. I am really having a hard time with this, it seems so stupid to me that the engineers at Boeing would rather use a radioactive material as a ballast than fuel, cargo, pax, etc

Does anyone know some TRUTH about this issue?

CCS


13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBrons2 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3007 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4185 times:

DU is a very dense and heavy metal, this I do know.


Firings, if well done, are good for employee morale.
User currently offlineBrons2 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3007 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4165 times:

Well then, it would stand to reason that it would be a good candidate for ballast, would it not? A dense metal weighs more for a given volume, so it would take up less space using DU for ballast versus steel for example or lead.


Firings, if well done, are good for employee morale.
User currently offlinePetertenthije From Netherlands, joined Jul 2001, 3351 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4171 times:

If it is used in ALL types I do not know, but in many. The 747 definately had it. When the El Al 747 went down in Amsterdam there where are great deal of deceases that are attributed to the DU. During the investigation someone brought a geiger teller into the hangar with the debris and it showed an increased level of radiation!

Having said that... it is rumoured that the El Al plane was carrying a lot of stuff not mentioned on the load sheet intended to military research. That freight might have been responsible for the deceases and the increased radiation levels. This is a very touchy subject though with loads of threads in the past that mostly resulted in mudslinging.



Attamottamotta!
User currently offlineGarnetpalmetto From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 5360 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4111 times:

In terms of radiation levels, Smithfly, almost everything I've ready indicates that DU is less radioactive than the naturally occuring uranium found in streambeds, lakebeds, etc and in solid form, poses little risk as it mainly disperses beta wave radiation, which is blocked by clothing. Dispersed in air, it has a rather limited dispersal area and dissolves rather quickly, but does pose a danger if inhaled.


South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
User currently offlineDalmd88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2533 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4058 times:

I think the elevator counter balance on the MD-80 is DU. It is really safe as long as you don't grind the stuff into powder.

User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4026 times:

Try a google search for "depleted uranium aircraft" and you'll get several hits with good info. One article I saw mentioned that the 747 was the only Boeing that used it. I recall from previous posts here that the L1011 also did.

One interesting blurb...

"Civilian applications
Depleted uranium is also used in sailboat keels, as counterweights and sinker bars in oil drills, gyroscope rotors, and in other places where there is a need to place a weight that occupies as little space as possible, such as in aircraft ballast (a 747 may contain 400-1,500kg). Tungsten could also be used, but the difficulty in working it makes anything made from tungsten extremely expensive and a mix of tungsten and uranium weights in aircraft is not unusual.

An unexpected application is in Formula 1 racing cars. The rules state a minimum weight of 600Kg but builders strive to get the weight as low as possible and then bring it up to the 600Kg mark by placing Depleted Uranium under the front axle to achieve a better balance."


User currently offlineOly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6684 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3970 times:

There was some concern when a KE B747F crashed on take off at Stansted a few years ago (instrumentation problems) and no-one could find the DU mass balances from some of the control surfaces.

As people have said DU in a lump is reasonably safe, it's only when it's a munition, hits something and gets reduced to dust that the problems start.

There are all sorts of health problems from Iraq and Kosovo where A10's used tons of the stuff. Plenty of US soldiers are showing effects as well as in the local residents and their kids.



wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineMiamiair From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3890 times:

McDonnell Douglas used DU in the balance weights of the DC-10 rudder. I found this out when we had a write-up on a C-Check, for flaking paint. To my surprise, we had looked up the material ID in the SRM, and surprise, surprise, surprise...depleted uranium.

But, it serves it purpose well, it is dense enough to allow for smaller arms/more compact design of control surfaces.


User currently offlineORDagent From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 823 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3729 times:

The CV880/990 used it as a counter balance in the tail.



User currently offlineDIJKKIJK From France, joined Jul 2003, 1783 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3701 times:

I have heard somewhere that the older B737s used some radioactive stuff in their emergency exit signs. In the event of a crash, the canister containing the stuff would break and illuminate the sign, so that the passengers can find it even when there is no power.

is this true?





Never argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience.
User currently offlineEA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 13508 posts, RR: 62
Reply 11, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3653 times:
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I have heard somewhere that the older B737s used some radioactive stuff in their emergency exit signs. In the event of a crash, the canister containing the stuff would break and illuminate the sign, so that the passengers can find it even when there is no power.

is this true?


I'd highly doubt that. First off, if designers had the intent of using a chemical reaction to illuminate an exit sign, the fluid in those "glow sticks" you see everywhere would be far safer and less costly.

Secondly, use of spillable radioactive material could pose a higher health risk to the passengers than the actual crash itself.

Third - if the canister breaks into many pieces, wouldn't that mean the sign itself was probably broken up as well, rendering it unreadable?  Big grin



"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
User currently offlineWrenchBender From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1779 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3602 times:

Glow in the dark "EXIT Signs" do contain a radioactive source usually H3 (Tritium). It is also used on analogue style instrumentation (they used to use Radium226). You get more exposure sitting in front of your TV set watching Monday Night Football than sittng in the emergency exit row next to one. If you have a watch that has glow in the dark numerals/hands it has the same material in it. Depleted Uranium has been used for quite some time as an effective material for balance weights in flight controls and even as C of G ballast on some aircraft (CT-114 Tutor for one). There is more HazMat problem with the Toxicity of the smoke generated by interior materials then these small amounts of isotopes.

WrenchBender



Silly Pilot, Tricks are for kids.......
User currently offlineEA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 13508 posts, RR: 62
Reply 13, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3497 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Glow in the dark "EXIT Signs" do contain a radioactive source usually H3 (Tritium).

Well shut my mouth! Good info to learn though - thanks for the correction!  Big thumbs up



"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
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