Essay on Use of Composites for Aircraft Primary Structural Components
Figure 1 The growth of composite use in civil transport aircraft since 1980 1
The Boeing 777 made its maiden flight over a decade ago on the 12th of June 1994 and in terms of primary structure included a composite vertical and horizontal stabiliser, as well as all flight control surfaces being of composite construction. The following quote illustrates Boeings increased use of composite materials on the 777 as compared to their previous aircraft. "Composites, including resins and adhesives, account for nine percent of the 777's structural weight, compared to about three percent on other Boeing jets".2 Figure 2 shows the type and locations of composite materials employed on the Boeing 777.
Figure 2 Composite use on the Boeing 777 3
As technology has evolved, the design of modern commercial transport aircraft features more and more use of composites in areas previously considered unsuitable. The Airbus A380 recently rolled out of the hanger for the first time on the 18th of January 2005, with an airframe boasting composite use of 16% by weight, this represents a 15 tonne weight saving when compared with an all-metal structure. As well as the usual secondary and tertiary areas, the A380 uses composites in primary structures such