Boeing successfully completes 787 wingbox destructive testing

The all-composite wing box passed tests in which it was subjected to loads 150 percent of maximum expected during the lifetime of the aircraft.

The Boeing Co. (Seattle, Wash.) reported on Nov. 15, 2008, that it has completed destructive testing on a full-scale composite wingbox of the 787 Dreamliner — the first all-composite wingbox ever built for a Boeing commercial airplane. This test is part of the certification process for the jetliner. To meet certification requirements, the wings must withstand loads up to 1.5 times the highest aerodynamic load that the jet could ever be expected to handle during its service life.

“Successful completion of the wingbox destruction test marks a major step forward in highlighting the innovation on the 787,” says Mark Jenks, VP of 787 development. “In addition to determining the strength of the structure, the test helps us verify the analytical methods we have used to calculate the loads the structure will have to carry.”

The wingbox, a cantilevered beam that carries the wing to the fuselage and supports leading- and trailing-edge devices, control surfaces, engines and landing gear, represents a portion of the wing section that begins at about the center of the airplane and stops at approximately one-half of the span of the wing, or ~50 ft/15.2m. The structure measures ~18 ft/5.5m at its widest point and weighs 55,000 lb/24,947 kg, including a great deal of test-only hardware and instrumentation.

Structural testing will continue on two full-scale 787 airframes as part of the certification process. Those tests will gauge the performance of the structure through multiple lifetimes of normal operational loads and will test the structure beyond the weights that are expected to be carried in service.