WHO ARE WE TO SAY THEY ARE LYING? Unless you are an engineer who involves him or herself in this work, one cant say a damn thing.
Well I am an engineer, though I don't work on A380 or 7E7. But I have studied composites, built composites and tested composites. They are stating their opinion that composites are not mature enough to use as extensively as Boeing plans. It's one school of thought, but it is not the only one. Substantial parts of many military aircraft are built from composites, including F/A-18 E/F, F-22, F-35, B-2, X-32, etc. Boeing has had a lot of experience especially with the X-32, F18E/F and F-22 in composites, as well as other craft such as X-45. Not to mention the composites used in other commercial aircraft such as the 777.
Composites have advantages over traditional materials, and they also have disadvantages. They mentioned repair and damage, it's true composites handle damage differently. Repairing and detecting the damage is handled differently as well. But these are not unheard of. I toured a center for non-destructive evaluation, and saw some of the methods that are used in determining defects in composites, and how they are repaired. Including blades on the Apache Helicopter, and the investigation of AA
's A300, the parts of the vertical stabilizer that were composite.
In building composites, I know it can be a difficult and challenging experience sometimes. Our school created a Blended Wing Body out of carbon fiber. When making the body at NWA's facilities in Minnesota, the vacuum was not properly sealed, and $10,000 of work was immediately lost. The composites I've built by hand, have been successful sometimes, other times not. But as I said, Boeing has had lots of experience now with composites, both in success and failure. They ran into various problems with X-32, and are no stranger to the challenges they face. Therefore, I'm inclined to think that the intelligent engineers at Boeing have thought this through, and are not making any kind of ridiculous leap here.
It is a step forward though, it does present technical challenges. It rests on Boeing's shoulders now to deliver on cost, on weight and safely. The Airbus spokesman raises some good points, some other seem to be pretty competition motivated. The statement in whole is competition motivated though, no question.
[Edited 2004-06-24 19:30:12]
Thermodynamics and english units don't mix...