Posts: 90
Joined: Sun Aug 08, 1999 10:17 pm

Uranuim In Planes

Fri Feb 09, 2001 2:50 am

hi there,

- I would like some informations about Uranuim in planes (B747,Dc10,L1011,C-130...).
- Is there any other planes which use Uranuim.
- Why do Airbuses not use uranuim? even A300?
- What do you think about it?
- Is there any URL about this suject?


Posts: 3391
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2001 10:18 pm

RE: Uranuim In Planes

Fri Feb 09, 2001 3:09 am

Uranium is only used where its comparatively huge density is needed. As far as I know, mostly as counterweight for spoilers and other control surfaces in the case of the b747.

I don't mind the uranium. At that altitude, you are more tormented by the atmospheric radiation than by the bits in the plane. And when it crashes, it is usually easily recovered without endangering anyone. That's all the info I can offer.

You might want to post your questions in the Tech/Ops forum, where many more knowledgeable users can give good advice.
Posts: 6434
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2000 6:25 am

RE: Uranuim In Planes

Fri Feb 09, 2001 3:26 am

The only application of uranium in airliners I have heard of is rudder balance on the CV-990. (We are of course talking about U-238, not the 235 variant).
I think that it was chosen as a substitute for lead because the rudder was larger than the CV-880 rudder. With this substitute some substantial redesign of the CV-880 fixed fin was prevented. Uranium is much heavier than lead.
U-238 is a toxic heavy metal just like lead which is widely used on all types of aeroplanes. When talking about U-238 disadvantages compared to lead, then there is probably only one really serious one, the price! Lead is so much cheaper.
It is not pleasant to have to work with heavy metals of any kind, not to mention having it spread in the environment when planes (military or civil planes) fall out of the sky. But that impact is really minor compared to the amounts of lead which gets spread all over from hand weapons - military and civil - wars, hunters, murderers and whatever.
The obvious substitute for all toxic heavy metals is gold. It has the weight, but lacks the toxic properties. Gold just doesn't work in lead-acid batteries. But I doubt very much that we will ever fly on planes with gold balance weights.
Best regards, Preben Norholm
Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs

RE: Uranuim In Planes

Fri Feb 09, 2001 3:30 am

The DC-8 also had depleted uranium counter weights on control surfaces. Depleted uranium is a by product of removing enriched uranium from natural uranium. I remember working in overhaul shops many years ago, handling depleted uranium weights with no protective gear, now we read how it is a health hazard.
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Joined: Fri Nov 05, 1999 11:28 am

RE: Uranuim In Planes

Fri Feb 09, 2001 8:43 am

The original B747-100's that were built contained uranium in the engine mount pilons to stop the aircraft from sitting on its backside.