• PT Youtube
  • CW Facebook
  • CW Linkedin
  • CW Twitter
7/1/2006 | 2 MINUTE READ

July 2006 Editorial

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

With all the publicity generated by Airbus and Boeing, it's easy to lose sight of the composites picture. Back in 2000, Airbus was flying high and Boeing was dissed as being behind the technological curve, too risk-averse and overly concerned with short-term shareholder value. For the last few years, Boeing also has

With all the publicity generated by Airbus and Boeing, it's easy to lose sight of the composites picture.

Back in 2000, Airbus was flying high and Boeing was dissed as being behind the technological curve, too risk-averse and overly concerned with short-term shareholder value. For the last few years, Boeing also has been fighting to overcome the effects of several ethical, legal and public relations blunders — busted for hiring a senior U.S. Air Force acquisitions official who handled billions of dollars worth of Boeing contracts, the company also somehow came into possession of proprietary Lockheed Martin rocket program documents, to name two examples. Times have changed. Today, pre-production orders for Boeing's 50 percent composite 787 Dreamliner are higher than for any of its previous aircraft, and it's a whole new dream. Meanwhile, new order announcements for Airbus' 555-passenger jetliner have slowed to a comparative trickle, replaced by announcements of A380 delays (see pp. 20-21), customer complaints about the design-stage A350 and a rash of media questions: Is EADS playing fast and loose with European taxpayers' money? Are politics and national pride fueling the fight between France and Germany to the detriment of the commercial jet business? Did Airbus make the wrong choice back in 2000 when it bet 13 billion dollars on the A380?

I don't know how all of this will play out, but I'm betting that 20 years from now there still will be two big aircraft manufacturers named Boeing and Airbus and that both will be using a lot more composites. We'll need superjumbos to move the much larger number of air travelers and we'll need more efficient mid-size jets for those who are in a hurry. As progress toward this future continues, we'll try to keep our minds focused on the main act and not pay too much attention to the sideshows in the popular media circus.

No surprise then that aerospace applications are in the center ring, this issue. Composite materials were conceived and developed by aerospace engineers, and they're still at it! This issue is crammed full of information about bigger, stronger and more complex composite parts being used in aerospace — see the story about the huge wing spars for the Airbus A400M heavy transport (p. 60), how a critical composite spoiler hinge fitting will replace metal on Airbus' twin-aisle aircraft (p. 52) and news about new Boeing 787 production equipment installations (p. 19). We look at ways to make composite aircraft safer in the lightning strike protection feature on p. 44 and ways to mold them faster and less expensively in the tooling article on p. 38.

Aerospace engineering pioneers like Bob Hartunian, who writes this issue's "Speaking Out" column (p. 15), have been instrumental in bringing composites to the world materials community. Their innovative technologies have radiated out into other markets and, as a result, knowledge and acceptance of composites is increasing among engineers everywhere. But I am always cognizant of how much work is still to be done.

And we've got much more than a great issue of HPC for you: Take a look at our new CompositesWorld.com Web site. Completely rebuilt from the ground up, the new site is richer in content than ever and designed to be faster and easier to search for the specific information you want. Let us know what you think.

Resources