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Could The 787 Have Been Conceived In The 1980's  
User currently offlineCJAContinental From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 459 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 5038 times:

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With the great advances that the 787, and the A350 will supposedly give to aircraft operational, and maintenance economics, could the technology have been in existence to create such an aircraft decades ago, perhaps in the 1980's.

I know that boeing use Cray supercomputers to design and improve their aircraft, and use a lot more technologically advanced, and more able tools to design their aircraft, though perhaps the CFCP fuselage, the raked wings, and the engines could have been conceived years ago.

As impressive and effective as the features are on the new green aircraft, they don't seem terribly complex. It doesn't seem to complex to create the CFCP fuselage, you just need a large autoclave. Though the GEnx is impressive, could'nt that have been designed around 15-20 years ago, as the technology isn't that different, its just the shape of the cowlings, the blades, and the materials used are different. If the wings do come out kind of curved, as it seems to in every diagram I see, then I can understand that that may not be straight forward to do.

So, could this have been done earlier, and if not in the 1980's, when is the earliest it could have been done, if not now?

Thoughts...


Work Hard/Fly Right.
21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 5010 times:

Could it have been conceived in the '80s?
...to some extent, it probably was.

Could it have been functionally/tactically/expediently executed to the same specifications as today?
...survey says: no.


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2826 posts, RR: 42
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4985 times:

A huge portion of the 787 is possbile only because of the decentralized globalized supply chain Boeing is using. Prior to the WTO, I do not believe it would have been possible or feasible to implement the plane in such a manner. Also remember that engineers in general, and aeronautical engineers in particular are a rather conservative group. I don't think that Boeing's engineers would have been willing to put their name on a >50% CRFP frame prior to it being tested in the wild for a while.

User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4977 times:

Quoting CJAContinental (Thread starter):
It doesn't seem to complex to create the CFCP fuselage, you just need a large autoclave.

...and a hell of a lot of precision to get the proper ratio of weight and structural integrity.
That doesn't exactly come from a guess-- after years of calculations and even a few failed attempts, Boeing's just now getting it right.

Quoting CJAContinental (Thread starter):
its just the shape of the cowlings,


Tweaked from experience in prior designs.

Quoting CJAContinental (Thread starter):
the blades,

tweaked through more than a decade of experience with the GE90



Quoting CJAContinental (Thread starter):
and the materials used are different.

...and do you think they just thought up the material composition on a hunch, or that it took years of research and trial and error once again to get it right?


User currently offlineLehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4977 times:

Don't use hindsight as a reason for asking why not. Making something practical and proven requires investment of time and money, not just one or the other. IMO, above all, faith in technology is required; why put time, money and energy into anything unless a company believes something useful can come out of that research?

Anyone can come up with the idea for something at any point. Bringing whatever that is into fruition is a whole 'nother sack of potatoes. I'm not going to judge possible or not, that is highly depended on faith in technology. People seem to have it at their convenience.

From another practical standpoint, composites were so new back then that they were expensive and risky and only the military could afford it (F-15 Eagle was first all-composite aircraft made by the US).

[Edited 2007-04-12 20:27:52]


The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
User currently offlineBlueSky1976 From Poland, joined Jul 2004, 1896 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4927 times:

Quoting Lehpron (Reply 4):
From another practical standpoint, composites were so new back then that they were expensive and risky and only the military could afford it (F-15 Eagle was first all-composite aircraft made by the US).

Composite manufacturing technology was around 15 years old in 1980s. If it was really that expensive and unaffordable, there wouldn't be hundreds of composite sailplanes manufactured starting from around 1967.
Could 787 be conceived in 1980s? Definitely YES. And no, it would not require such a massive supply chain, but rather a massive investment on Boeing's part, which would have made the project a bigger gamble than 747 back in the day.



STOP TERRORRUSSIA!!!
User currently onlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31123 posts, RR: 85
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4879 times:
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Uh, the F-15 has plenty of aluminum in her airframe.  Wink

Back to the 787 - could Boeing and GE have done it? I do not believe so, for a number of reasons:

  • Airline Risk: CFRP has a solid track record now, so airlines are more comfortable with it as a primary construction material.
  • Boeing Risk: Boeing would have had to invest so much development time and money into the program it would probably have required their entire focus and probably would have extended the EIS of models like the 763ER and 744, to say nothing of the 737NG and 777.
  • Technology: Much would have drawn directly from the ATB [B-2A] and ATF [FB-22] programs and it is a given [based on the work BCA has had to do now) those technologies would never have been allowed to be applied to a commercial program.


User currently offlineCJAContinental From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 459 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4871 times:

So, the fact that people were hesitant of the technology, and research over years has obviously played a huge part in the development of the 787. So, the 787 could have been technologically possible to an extent, though due to hesitation, a certain lack of research, and primitive supply of parts, it would have been somewhat impracticle, and a long shot from the prospective of an engineer back then.

Though other reasons for this is maybe because they did not need to. In the 1980's I don't think climate change, and rising kerosine prices, and competition from what would be airbus seemed terribly likely, (Boeing say they learned a lesson from the airbus mistake). So there wasn't really a need for it back then I guess either, though it would have been nice.



Work Hard/Fly Right.
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 984 posts, RR: 51
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4862 times:

Quoting BlueSky1976 (Reply 5):
Composite manufacturing technology was around 15 years old in 1980s. If it was really that expensive and unaffordable, there wouldn't be hundreds of composite sailplanes manufactured starting from around 1967. Could 787 be conceived in 1980s? Definitely YES

Not the case  thumbsdown   thumbsdown 

Sailplanes require a fraction of the strength properties that would be necessary to create a pressurized, large commercial transport with intercontinental range. And have the durability to last for 20-30 years of commercial service. Boeing seriously pursued the concept in the mid-80s with the 7J7 and deemed it was simply impossible at the time.

Quoting BlueSky1976 (Reply 5):
And no, it would not require such a massive supply chain, but rather a massive investment on Boeing's part, which would have made the project a bigger gamble than 747 back in the day.

And probably given Boeing little to no advantage over aluminum technology of the 80s. Just making something out of CFRP doesn't always make it lighter than fabricating the same part from alloy. That's why some important 787 components are still aluminum.

Quoting Lehpron (Reply 4):
(F-15 Eagle was first all-composite aircraft made by the US)

The F-15 contains a whole lot of plastics, but the primary structure is titanium and aluminum.


User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6411 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4858 times:

Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 2):
Also remember that engineers in general, and aeronautical engineers in particular are a rather conservative group. I don't think that Boeing's engineers would have been willing to put their name on a >50% CRFP frame prior to it being tested in the wild for a while.

Part of this is the FAA's doing, too...here's a little history of FAA-Certified composite aircraft:

1970's: Windecker Eagle (4 place GA plane) certified by the FAA as the first composite aircraft certified under CAR part 3. 4 aircraft delivered.

1987: Beechcraft Starship receives FAA certification. Beechcraft has to sink $300 million into the design and certification of this aircraft. The FAA takes issue with many flight characteristics of a canard design, which requires a wing re-design that ultimately knocked too many knots off of the cruise speed, and the promised noise reduction inside the aircraft from the pusher configuration was never realized. My personal opinion is that, were the aircraft's only major technical advancement composite construction, the aircraft would probably have been certified much easier...

1990's: Raytheon Premier I receives FAA Certification (fuselage, at least, is composite). The composite expertise that Beechcraft had gained through the Starship program is used on an aircraft which continues to be a moneymaker for Raytheon/Beechcraft.

2004: Boeing begins work on the first transport-category jetliner proposed with a composite fuselage. Stay tuned for the rest...  Wink

Knowing Boeing, they would have neveer undertaken this project without reasonable assurances and a good business case. The time is right, and all of Boeing's risk-sharing partners are in it right along with them.

One thing that has scared me on this program is the tight timeline between the first aircraft rollout and the first scheduled delivery...it seems to almost assume that FAA certification will go off without a hitch. I hope, for Boeing's sake, that this is the case  Smile



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineMrComet From Ireland, joined Mar 2005, 561 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4807 times:

It's like saying could you have learned to speak Russian in six months rather than two years. Sure. It maybe physiologically possible but without the experience it is unlikely.


The dude abides
User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4797 times:

Quoting CJAContinental (Thread starter):
With the great advances that the 787, and the A350 will supposedly give to aircraft operational, and maintenance economics, could the technology have been in existence to create such an aircraft decades ago, perhaps in the 1980's.

Why????? There was absolutely no reason for the technology, development costs or R&D when oil prices started the decade at $35 and ended the decade in 1989 at like $15 falling to as low as $8 in 1986

In case you were not aware when the fuel sipping 757 was conceived in 1978, ti was to repalce all 727s by late in the 1980s...instead the 757 was a dud for much of the decade with orders from EA and BA....smaller orders followed from NW and RC but it wasnt until 1988 when UA and AA ordered over 200 between the that the 757 became a success...as for those 727s not only were they not retired by 1989, UA/AA/TW were still operating original 727-100s in 1989.


User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4775 times:

So my point is, low fuel prices would have made the 787 type technology unnecessary and too expensive for airlines to acquire (the NPV of a 787 gets worse and worse as fuel prices fall)..the push for composites is due directly to high fuel prices and environmental issues, none of which existed in the 1980s

User currently onlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31123 posts, RR: 85
Reply 13, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4688 times:
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Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 12):
So my point is, low fuel prices would have made the 787 type technology unnecessary and too expensive for airlines to acquire (the NPV of a 787 gets worse and worse as fuel prices fall)..the push for composites is due directly to high fuel prices and environmental issues, none of which existed in the 1980s

I disagree. Lower fuel burn saves money whether fuel is $1 a gallon or $10. And CFRP looks to save a bundle on maintenance and the lower purchase price (admittedly driven mostly by better production processes) and longer service life should make capital costs lower on a per annum basis (lower total cost spread out over more years, though interest costs over that longer period will play a part in the equation).

I think the 787 would have sold better then the 767 if it had been launched in it's stead and size (762/763/764) and would have held a better then 2:3 sales ratio to the A332.


User currently offlineJbernie From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 880 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4590 times:

I would be inclined to say that if Boeing or Airbus thought of these aircraft back in the 80s the media would think they were daft and the airlines might never have been able to afford the planes because of the cost involved in getting this technology to market.

Each new aircraft is an evolution of every other aircraft and the technologies implimented. The 787s interior is used to evolve the 748 interior, things that didn't work so good are left behind in history.

I think we can say that they could have envisioned such aircraft back then, but they never would have been able to produce the aircraft due to the complexities of the technology required to be used if built in the 80s.

Go back to the original ibm pc, now look at the current pc, think of the aircraft like that.


User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4532 times:

I'll bet you could, say, put a man on the moon with 1960s technology. Doesn't mean it's commercially feasible.


New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineIboam From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 27 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4396 times:

Feasible and practical are two very different things. If you look at a road bike of the 1980's and a road bike of today you will notice some startling differences. The main one being carbon-fiber. Yes, back in the day the use of carbon fiber in bike frames could have been conceived and even utilized, but it wouldn't have been practical. The research and development would have been very costly and so would have been production. Same thing with personal computer like JBernie mentioned, while the overall design of the personal computer has not changed all that much and the computers of today were completely imaginable in the 80's, it just wasn't feasible to produce them. It has taken 20+ years of R&D to create the components of todays personal computers at a reasonable price.

User currently offlineSwissy From Switzerland, joined Jan 2005, 1734 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4324 times:

If money is not the issue well the the universe is the limit.....  Wink but looking at the terms today I would have to say no it would not have been possible back in the 80's just because of the bling bling ( dollarsign   dollarsign  Wink alone, just look at todays technology like cell phones, plasma tv, gps..... it is a lot more affordable today then it was 20 years ago....

Cheers,


User currently offlineMop357 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 4286 times:

This maybe a little off the subject but I was checking out the stats of the B787 on Wikipedia and they compared the 300, 800, and 900 series side by side. I know the 300 series is for high density short to media range flights while the 800 and 900 are for high density long range flights.

Can someone explain why the 300 series has the same fuel capacity as the 800 series, but the 800 series flies almost 3x the range of the 300? What would be so economical about flying the 300 series if it can burn all that gas in such a short distance while the 800 and 900 flies for much longer?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B787


User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2368 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4145 times:
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Quoting BlueSky1976 (Reply 5):
Composite manufacturing technology was around 15 years old in 1980s. If it was really that expensive and unaffordable, there wouldn't be hundreds of composite sailplanes manufactured starting from around 1967.

Most sailplanes from that time were fiberglass, not CFRP. Fiberglass being much, much cheaper. And many of the 'glass ships from that era had quite short careers since they suffered from a lot of delamination problems.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 8):
Sailplanes require a fraction of the strength properties that would be necessary to create a pressurized, large commercial transport with intercontinental range.

Come take a ride in a nice booming thermal under a big developing Cu or in a nice mountain wave sometime this spring, and *then* tell me about sailplane structural strength.  Wink

They may be small, but they're certainly not fragile in terms of primary structure. What's the ultimate (positive) load limit on your favorite airliner? +5.8G? Most gliders have *design* load limits of +5.3 or 5.5G.

Of course I fully agree that the technology to do airliner sized primary structural components out of composites was completely underdeveloped in 1970.


User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4006 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 13):
I disagree. Lower fuel burn saves money whether fuel is $1 a gallon or $10

Well here is the problem with your analysis. Fuel is only part of the equation....if fuel is cheap, the savings associated with buying a 787, wont offset the purchase price and the NPV of the capital expenditure gets smaller.....if youre correct why then didnt airlines run out and buy 757s in the early 1980s and instead keep their 727s??? When aviation fuel was .60 cents per gallon, youd have to keep the 787 for 50 years in order to break even


It is sorta like a hybrid car. Why bother spending $10,000 more for a hybrid toyota that gets 50mpg versus a gas powered Toyota Corolla that gets 35mpg when gasoline is $2.00???? Gasoline would have to be $5 or more for the hybrid to make sense (yes most hybrid owners are making a bad financial move versus a gas civic or corolla) and youd have to keep it longer than 5 years.


User currently offlineSEPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 6961 posts, RR: 46
Reply 21, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3747 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 9):
One thing that has scared me on this program is the tight timeline between the first aircraft rollout and the first scheduled delivery...it seems to almost assume that FAA certification will go off without a hitch. I hope, for Boeing's sake, that this is the case

Don't believe for one minute that Boeing hasn't had ongoing extensive discussions with the FAA centering on exactly what the FAA will expect from Boeing. They have been there before; the 777 was certified for 180 minute ETOPS at delivery; that had never been done before, but Boeing did it and did it on the timetable that they had promised.

I think the main point here is that yes, a lot of the 787 could have been built in the 1980's but the technologies were not proven enough or integrated to the point that they are now. The engines, however, probably could not have been made, because they are the result of years of experimentation, experience, and development. As others have pointed out, the experience with and confidence in CFRP was not at a place that Boeing (or Airbus, or MD) would have been comfortable using it in primary structure. Look at what happened with AA 587; even in 2001 methods for testing CFRP structures were still being developed. All technology evolves; revolutionary steps are few and far between. While the 787 appears revolutionary, it is the culmination of many, many small steps in many areas that have been combined into one project. Just as it would have technically been possible to build the 747-400 in 1969 (although the glass cockpit was not yet invented) it was realistically not possible because all of the lessons that were learned on the planes in between, as well as the advances in other fields.



The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
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