Air India Learns: Composite Aircraft Advertised “Lightweight” Is ‘Stealthy’; “Fuel Saving” Is ‘Cloaked’

News Analysis: Air India Learns: Composite Aircraft Advertised “Lightweight” Is ‘Stealthy’; “Fuel Saving” Is ‘Cloaked’ since “Manufacturing” may be at odds with “Marketing” where it involves Commercial Airline Manufacturers.

Beyond the varied inherent problems in Carbon/Carbon Composites (as ‘Rain in the Plane’), there is also the problem of strength to highly stressed areas of an aircraft such as the “Wing Box” where it merges into the fuselage. Other areas such as the wing interfaces (hard points) with engine pylon nacelles may require additional support for strength. The list goes on and on.

Where strengthening is required, ‘Doublers’ made of Carbon/Carbon Composite can be fabricated. In many cases, Stainless Steel or Titanium is required for maximum strength. ALL of the ‘Doublers’ add weight; much more than many ‘Marketeers’ will admit to customers.

Fuel burn increases occur, with the added weight of structural enforcements, subsequently added in production. The vaunted: “5%”, “6%”, “10%”, “12%”, or “15%” Fuel Savings, touted by some airframes, is an illusion in many cases.

Since Carbon/Carbon Composite Construction FOR COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT, is with a very short history, it is likely such aircraft can be expected to be written off in a much SHORTER LIFE SPAN. Metal aircraft have decades of life-span confirmation. They are not subject to deterioration from Solar Ray degradation of the metals (as are the adhesives used in Carbon/Carbon Construction). Furthermore de-lamination of the plies (due to stressing over time) weakens the fabrication significantly.

The Ethiopian Airlines Battery Fire, which was widely disseminated in the press, demonstrates another shortcoming of Composites: Heat. Allegedly, the Airframe rebuilt, in purported secrecy, the area that was damaged. “Why the concealment?” many airlines ask. 

Lastly, Composites do not dent; they fracture when hit. Any Landing Gear Failures will demonstrate the “Shattered Egg Shell Principle” as  Composite Aircraft Fuselages hit runways. 

From a Manufacturing perspective: If an Airline wants Longevity, Reliability, and Safety (LRS), Metal Constructions cannot be beat; a long History demonstrates this simple fact.

Alleged “Light-Weight” Construction is an also-ran in the ‘LRS’ Evaluation of Airline Aircraft to Purchase.

What materials may be suitable for Warfare Environment “Expendable” Military Aircraft is not necessarily the best for the travelling public in Commercial Airliners.



☆ Reported Cracks In Commercial New Composite Airliner Wings Are Apparently “No Problem”?

News Analysis: Vested interests reporting about Cracks In Commercial New Composite Airliner Wings are apparently of ‘No Problem’ (to those who want to make sure the Stock Price does not fall). The aloof attitude shown evidences their Complete Incomprehension of the Technical Physics at work stressing the Composite Wings. If cracks are seen on new Wings prior to assembly, what will happen when those Same Wings are Stressed in Flight in Frigid Temperatures at Cruise Altitude?

Predictable Metal Wings (with Many Decades of Commercial Airline Experience) can have cracks in them of various natures and locations.  What can Airlines expect of Carbon/Carbon Composites with next to NO History in Entire Commercial Airline Applications?  

Airlines trying to save money by having Aircraft which burn less fuel is laudable; the Problem is in the Execution in trying to do so. Their hopeful savings may end up being of extreme cost by having gone down the Carbon/Carbon Composite Aircraft Road.

One Thing is for CERTAIN: In Aviation, “Flight” Will ‘Always and in All Ways’ Demonstrate the Folly of Incorrect Design Assumptions, Erroneous Material Selections, and/or Flawed Manufacturing Procedures.

“Time” is “Flight’s” Co-Conspirator in demonstrating Aviation Engineering Ignorance.



Air India Disenchanted With Told ‘Tales’ Of New Aircraft Fuel Burn Efficiencies, Etc.

News Analysis: When A Commercial Aircraft Manufacturer “Talks The Talk, It Must Walk The Walk”;  especially with alleged Misrepresentations regarding Estimated Fuel Burn Efficiencies and projected Dispatch Reliability.

Air India had apparently succumbed to the “Lighter Is Better” (LIB) (without defining ‘Lighter’) ‘Marketing Hype’ some say, then purchased significant numbers of the Composite Aircraft; presently, to its Chagrin, many people suggest.

‘LIB’ did have an immediate positive impact on the price of the Aircraft Manufacturer’s Stock (to the delight of some of the Top Retiring Managers who helped think up the ‘scheme’). The Mass Media ravished praise (on that which they new little about) further raising the price of the Stock.

The Engineering Model for this Aircraft apparently made both “Drastic” Engineering Assumptions regarding its “Complete” Composite Construction (from different vendors), Disregard of Flammability Potential, Its Heavy Reliance on Electrical Power (forgoing Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems), and its Projected Weight vs. its Actual Empty Weight. As an amalgam of all these changes in Aircraft Construction, Logarithmic rather than Arithmetic Changes ensued. This reality to the cost of Billions of Dollars for the Air Frame, Years Late Deliveries, Poor Line Quality in Assembly, and poorer Fuel Efficiency than Advertised many people maintain.

Some Aircraft Engineers suggest that the Shorter Life Span built into the design of this Aircraft (by virtue of its Composite rather than Metal Construction) will further tarnish Air India’s View of its purchases.

People suggest that perhaps a Meditating Shiva can provide some direction in this Continuing Conundrum which Air India, acting honorably, did not bargain for.


☆ 787 Aircraft Lithium Ion Battery Problems Continue

News Analysis:  Some people think the continued Lithium Ion Battery problems of the Boeing 787 Aircraft susbstantiate the need for a re-examination by Aviation Authorities; This of the probability of fire commencing in such batteries on aircraft. This Carbon/Carbon Composite Aircraft CANNOT tolerate a fire incident without possible serious results. If such an event were to occur it would become a “Nightmare Liner” to its Manufacturer.

Various Aircraft Engineers think the Airframe grossly mis-judged both the Electrical Demands and the Electrical Supplies necessary for this Aircraft when it was designed. Now, existing customers and potential customers might consider how such negative events created by questionable design assumptions might impact their own Airline Flight Operations.  

The inherent frailties of Carbon/Carbon Composite Fuselages for Commercial Aircraft: Delamination, Detonation, and Flammability, which was already known for years by Aircraft Structural Engineers,  must also be reckoned with by Operators.


★ Big Aircraft Sales, Small Passenger Seats Rile Passengers, Etc.

News Analysis: The Two Largest Commercial Aircraft Manufacturers are gleeful of their Sales Performances in 2013. The market for the World’s Largest Airliner has improved. The Smaller Single Aisle Aircraft Sales are performing very well. Their Common Stocks are up measurably as a result.

An area of interest for 2014 in Aviation is: It becomes a blot on the records of  Airlines as to wide-spread Customer Dissatisfaction with the smaller seats on the Single-Aisle Aircraft in particular. The Airlines increasing call for greater profitability (at the cost of passenger discomfort) has the Airframes ordering more of the smaller seats to “Cram Into” the fuselages. “More Passengers, More Revenue” is the Airlines’ Mantra. Since the “Me Too” Management of the Airlines copy what other Airlines Managements are ordering for their airplanes, passengers have little choice in seating. If they do want a little extra space, (which had been ‘normal seating’ for years) they now have to pay extra  for it; Extortion?

The “Fisticuffs” (of passengers against passengers or against flight crews) is due, in part, to “Minimalist Thinking” by Airline Managements regarding “Proper Passenger Environments”.

Discomfort breeds Hostility. Many people think the ‘Airlines Quest For Increased Profitability’ will only have the effect of “Charging More But Getting Less” for Airline Passengers.

The “Cookie Cutter” Mentality of Airlines’ Management some say is evidenced by the fact that the Most Unique Difference of Airline to Airline (Anywhere in the World) is their Aircraft Liveries!

The World’s Airline Passengers Deserve Better.

In 2014, Carbon/Carbon Matrix Composite Aircraft by Both of the Airframes will be Operational around the World. This “Advanced” Technology will bring it own “Advanced Failures” with it. What has been utilized on physically smaller “Shorter Life” Military Aircraft does not necessarily represent what is best for large Commercial Aircraft. A CERTAIN BENEFIT to the Airframes will be the fact that the Composite Planes will have shorter ‘Mean Times Between Failures’ than Metal Aircraft, Structural Engineers say. Airframes will be able to sell more Aircraft as a result some think.

Perhaps, as an example, the recent Ethiopian Airlines ‘Small Battery Fire” caused an alleged TWO MONTHS of “SECRET” Repair by its Airframe. Will this particular airplane have ‘normal life expectancy’; how can one be sure?  That a metal aircraft would be a much simpler fix is certain Maintenance Repair Organizations say.

Investors who have “Gone Long” on the two Airframes might expect Significant Problems to arise with Composite Technology on Commercial Aircraft resulting in a possible very quick diminution of their Common Stock Values.

The Short Term Benefits of flying ‘marginally lighter’ Composite Aircraft” might be upset by the ‘Inherent Frailties” of Composites used in Commercial Aircraft (De-lamination, Fire, and Impact Detonation). One should ask “Aircraft Structural Engineers” about this matter before investing or ask those who have actually bonded Composites. Ask “How does Bonding using Vacuum Bagging in an Autoclave differ from “Cold Bonding” in an Aircraft Hangar? What are the benefits of each process? If there is Landing Gear Failure what will happen to a Composite Fuselage hitting the runway?” The Aircraft/Power Plant Mechanics who presumably worked on the Ethiopian Airlines Aircraft should know.  Investors in Aircraft Insurance (or Re-Insurance Underwriters in particular) should pay attention to this probability. There could be Catastrophic Insurance Losses if a couple of Aircraft Events occurred through Fire or Crash or both.



★ Carbon/Carbon Composite (CCC) Cremations Could Create Customer Chaos

Premium News Analysis: Carbon/Carbon Composite (CCC) Cremations Could Create Customer Chaos by its Inherent Fire Capacity. Carbon is Flammable as are the Petrochemical Adhesives used to bind the Carbon/Carbon (CC) Textiles together. Automobiles, such as the Incinerated Porsche Carrera GT widely discussed in the Los Angeles County, California is one example. The tragedy of the  Actor’s alleged “Cremation” from a fire last week in a One-Car Accident, is that the Porsche’s Body and Under Carriage was built from ‘CCC’ like some New Aircraft.

The Fuel of the Aircraft Fuselages, ‘CCC’, being added to the abundant Air surrounding the Airliner only needs the Third Element for a Conflagration: Heat. The Engines or the Auxiliary Power Unit are more than capable of providing that Element. In fact, Mere Electrical Wiring has actually Caused Fuselage  Fire on ‘CCC’ Airplanes! Once a fire commences, the Adhesive weakens and the ‘CC’ Fabric commences to De-laminate (thereby weakening the aircraft). 

Passengers riding in a Commercial Aircraft built of Carbon/Carbon Composites today is Analogous to passengers riding in a Hay Wagon of Yesteryear, some people would say. The main benefit to those in the Hay Wagon is they would merely Jump Off  of it if there was a fire; Airline Passengers typically do not have that luxury (especially while in flight).

If an Aircraft  fire develops and the Landing Gear becomes dis-functional a “Belly Landing” will evidence a Shattering of the Fuselage, like a cracked Egg Shell. How many passengers might be expected to be tossed out of the Aircraft thereafter?

Airframes have sold the Airlines and the Public the “Lighter Weight” Benefits of Composite Aircraft. They Absolutely Ignore the Inherent Frailties of  this Flammable Material. If possible, they want the Mass Media to not discuss (nor show photographs of) the Electrical Wiring Fires Damages that have occurred in their Airplanes to date.

Metal Aircraft (or Automobile Construction) does NOT provide “Fuel For Fires”; but in Terms of Product Marketing, ‘Metal’ is not “Sexy”. Reality.


★ Too Much Aerospace Technology May Create Aircraft Scatology

Premium News Analysis:  Too Much Aerospace Technology May Create Aircraft Scatology more people are thinking. Soon Airline Boards will have to admit that their Engineering Departments did not properly advise their Managements as to foreseeable flaws in New Airframe Design and Manufacture. The Boards themselves used very poor judgement in leaping on the Airframes’ ‘New Sell”: “Lighter Weight Cannot Wait” ‘LWCW’. Thus, ‘LWCW’ became the ‘Holy Grail’ in Aircraft Design.

Some Airframes took a ‘Greater Plunge” into ‘LWCW’ than others. Those who went “All In” are now suffering Aircraft Event by Aircraft Event. How did they go “All In” regarding Aircraft Weight ? Electronic Systems  replaced Hydraulic and/or Pneumatic Technologies in order to save weight; Carbon/Carbon Composites replaced Metals in Structure and Fuselage Exteriors; Four Engines were replaced by Two; Engines Components were designed to be lighter ‘not necessarily stronger’; Passenger seats were made Narrower and Thinner; Even, Blankets given out to Cold Passengers are not readily available; and so it goes. Does the Technology aforementioned make an aircraft better or does it make it more  ‘Scatologic’? Only time will tell.

Aircraft Fuel Consumption became the Cause Celebre of the Airline Boards. Airlines were told “Oil is going to $200.00 a Barrel”; it did not. The Changes made helped produce the present Conundrum of the Airframes: Aircraft Reliability is now being questioned; Justly so. Recurring Down-times support the Public’s Growing Concern.

The ‘LWCW’ had the intended effect desire by Retiring Airframe Executives: It elevated the prices of their Companies’ Stocks; the ‘LWCW’ was marketed to airlines. When the airlines ‘Took The Bait”, Airframe Executives  Self-Concern was Financially Rewarded. Some people say, this ideology moved the Aircraft world into its present condition. While others support the ‘LWCW’ principle by arguing that Military Aircraft have had similar technologies, they forget something important in Engineering. To wit, “Increases of Unit Scale May Bring Decreases in Unit Efficiency”. That which works for a physical smaller Fighter Plane exhibits different: Acceptable Research, Development, and  Production Costs, Expend-ability, Operational Parameters, Longevity, and other norms from large Commercial Aircraft. Governments pay for Military Aircraft while ‘Individuals’ pay for Commercial Air Planes.

An Apple is not an Orange; But Both are Fruit.


Emirates Airline Gives Engineering Trainees a Unique “Hands-On” Learning Experience

News Analysis:  Emirates Airlines Engineering Trainees are getting a One-of-a-Kind Opportunity to better comprehend elements of Aircraft Construction. This build activity, albeit, rudimentary, nevertheless provides the impetus for ‘Seeds of Thought’ to germinate by the students. Required of good Aircraft Engineers is the ability to understand Systemically not only what has been built [Airbus A380, for example] but moreover, HOW IT WAS BUILT.

Learning about some of the Inherent ‘Frailties’ of Composites: The trainees “Drilling Problems” as well as many other Aircraft Industry known: i.e., Delamination due to stress; Adhesive degeneration caused by Solar Radiation Exposure at ‘Cruise’ [thereby leading to possible delamination]; Severe Carbon/Carbon Surface Abrasion due to particulates in the air (sometimes more severe due to Volcanism) and [U.S. B2 Bombers Constant Maintenance Problems from particulates]; Cracking ‘like an Egg Shell’ when merely bumped [let alone “Belly Landing” due to faulty Landing Gear]; Questionable LONG TERM Repair Integrity without using an ‘Autoclave’ as in Initial Construction by the “Air Frame”; Composites do not last as long as metals due to the aforementioned; Non-Metallic Thermal Behavior leading to constant “Rain In The Plane” Conditions.

In the United States, Beech Aircraft, several year ago sold their Stylish-Designed “Starships” to the public. Reportedly in the Press, due to inherent problems with composites, ALL of their “Starships” were re-purchased from their customers and the aircraft were Scrapped [due to allegedly Potential Legal Liability]; Production of the Starship, of course, ceased. “Rain in the Plane” was Newspaper Reported to be severe. Beech Aircraft Company is to be commended for not putting the public at risk. One can  read about this “Starship” Project, and its unfortunate end, using the Internet. This Aircraft History is not discussed by those parties selling Composite Aircraft.

The “Gain” of using Composites to the Airlines is “Lighter Weight” vs. the MANY ‘Frailties’ inherent in  that material. Some forget that “Metal’s Behavior Is Predictable” [due to its long and reliable usage in Aircraft Construction]. This should be realistically evaluated by Airlines.

Emirates Airline, with its trainees learning about the aforementioned Attributes of Composites, as well as other aircraft related subjects is to be lauded for its “Out-Of-The-Box” Thinking.