I'm not trying to bash the 787 or Boeing, but thinking about the pervasive use of carbon fiber in it, I can't help but think of the MX
difficulties that might result. More specifically I wonder how Boeing has addressed these issues. In addition to the fuel tank issue I brought up in another thread I wonder how the repainting of the 787 will be accomplished.
Working in the paint hangar at Delta for 2 years I know first hand the difficulties of repainting composites. Current composite panel construction and chemical paint stripping techniques don't mix. Currently all composites have to sanded with a DA(dual action) sander. This is a time consuming process. A 4X8 foot panel can take one person 8 hours to sand. Extreme care must be taken as it is very easy to remove too much material and before you know it you're into the structural plies of the panel. A time consuming repair is now required. Suffice it to say that a lot more labor will be required to repaint one of these babies and it will have to be very skilled. That is unless Boeing has or will develop new more economical refinishing methods.
Another problem I see is that paint can be considered an integral part of the composite. On metal, cracked paint just peels off, doing no damage to the metal. Cracks in paint on composites on the other hand propagate down into the resin matrix. There are different non structural protective plies applied to the top surface of the panel to resist this and in many cases a high build primer can be used to repair this. I have, however, seen 757 fan cowls that have been scrapped due to this phenomenon. They looked like somebody painted them in a faux crackle finish. I'm sure faulty refinishing is probably to blame but that just reinforces my point about the high skill level and extended time that will be required to refinish the 787. A cost factor that airlines might want to consider in their purchase analysis.