smithfly114
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Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 2:18 pm

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
 
brons2
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 2:21 pm

DU is a very dense and heavy metal, this I do know.
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brons2
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 2:27 pm

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.
 
petertenthije
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 2:29 pm

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!
 
garnetpalmetto
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:07 pm

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.
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Dalmd88
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:45 pm

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.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 4:36 pm

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."
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
oly720man
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:49 pm

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
 
miamiair
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:08 pm

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.
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ORDagent
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:46 am

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

 
DIJKKIJK
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:58 am

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.
 
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:27 am

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

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
WrenchBender
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:44 am

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.......
 
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RE: Depleted Uranium In Aircraft

Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:52 am

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

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group