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3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 8:41 am

I was just thinking about something. The Consortium is planning on putting a carbon fibre wing on the 3XX from what I understand. That's pretty dang cool! Its really light, and *very* strong. That would mean serious operating cost reduction. But, I've realized a major drawback while reading another discussion. What happens if it gets a ding?

Singapore Airlines bought 320s. They were doing great until a maintenance mishap caused the fin (which is composite) to be damaged slightly. If it had been an aluminum fin, it could have been repaired for a couple thousand dollars. Instead, it required a whole new fin with a 6 figure cost. That wiped out the fuel savings for the life of the jet.

Imagine a similar ding on a 3XX wing. It would be even more expensive because it would need replacement. That could be the end of that plane!
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RE: 3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 8:45 am

It may be possible to segment a wing, making it out of several different parts which would be individually replacable. Also, the A3XX is still a good half decade from production, so that is probably one of the major things in their brainstorming. And there may be ways, though I certainly can't think of any, to combine metals and composites to make something totally new. Either way, you're right, it wouldn't be very clever to build an airplane with a wing that needs replacing everytime a bird or stone or speck of dust gets upset.
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RE: 3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 8:49 am

Forgive me on my ignorance about this, but...
if carbon fiber is so strong, why would it be damaged by such small debris, or projectiles? That seems like a paradox to me, super strong wing that can't take the strike of a dust particle...
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RE: 3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 9:03 am

Yes, it may be hard to understand, but CF (Carbon-Fibre) is very strong, hard AND fragile.

Take a coffee mug for example... it's something like that   Hard but fragile.

I seriously think I just creamed my pants without any influence from any outside variables.
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RE: 3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 10:45 am

I think it takes more than a birdstrike, but things do happen on occasion in maintenance and everyday service. Like a deicing truck might accidentally run into it and fracture it.
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RE: 3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 8:32 pm

As far as I've heard it's only the wing outboard of the outboard engines that Airbus considers to make from composite. But of course, that's still a pretty large structure.

They also consider using a new form of aluminium/glass fibre sandwich (called GLARE) for the upper part of the fuselage. Would this material cause comparable maintenance issues?
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RE: 3XX Wing

Tue Jan 11, 2000 9:19 pm

Jlb is correct - the A3XX wing will have carbon fibre (well, not really, but "composites", yes) components, but it won't be entirely made of composites.

The reason isn't so much that it can't be done, it just can't be done without considerable expense... and is economically unfeasible for airlines at this current time. I would imagine an all-composite wing would cost in excess of US$200m per unit, so is far, far, far too expensive for Airbus to consider.

The consortium will put composities (hopefully) in regions that usually do not undergo damage... certainly not places like the leading edge and under surface of the wing. Internal components, however, are a different matter entirely...

GLARE is similar to fibre glass in its ease of shaping, is slightly more expensive, but is also much stronger. I don't think that it could pose a significant maintenance problem in terms of cost - it is pretty hard for a bird to go through the roof!

What might be an issue for GLARE that hasn't been reported is its ability to be cut open quickly. Safety regulations say that a rescue crew must be able to relatively easily cut open the roof of an airplane to get to people inside pending some sort of accident where doors cannot be used. GLARE is pretty damned hard to cut, apparently. Stainless steel chain saws lose their teeth pretty quickly.

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