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Boeing's New 787 Wings — Amazingly Flexible

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the reed-in-the-wind dept.

Science 564

An anonymous reader writes "Boeing is making the wings of its new 787 out of carbon fiber instead of metal. That means the wings are so strong and flexible that they could bend upward and touch above the fuselage — or come close. The company is expected to deliver the first 787 to All Nippon Airlines in May 2008. 'Boeing has completed static testing of a three-quarter wingbox, but engineers are still considering whether to limit testing of the full wing to a 150% load limit held for 3 sec. or to continue bending it to see when it breaks. 'There's a raging debate within the engineering team to see if we should break it or not,' says [787 General Manager Mike] Bair.'" They have come a long way in wing flexibility.

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564 comments

WTF (-1, Offtopic)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667023)

why did u noobs keep downrankin me...... stop stopstop stop stop

wtfwtfwtfwtfw fwtfwtfwtfwtfwtfwt wtfwtfwtfwtfwt (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667107)

u n00bs did it to me again now i cant post for another day

gg

Nothing new (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667035)

Airbus have been doing it for some time now. From The Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk]

"The entire wing structure of the Airbus A 350 is made of carbon fibre and the same material will account for 50 per cent of the Boeing 787, which its manufacturers say will be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft in the air."

Pedantry (3, Funny)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667177)

No, you are wrong. Boeing use good old US carbon fiber, while the Europeans use that low rent carbon fibre stuff. No comparison at all. Carbon fibre comes in litres and the fibre length is in metres, while carbon fiber comes in gallons (or perhaps liters) and fibers are measured in feet, (or perhaps meters). See how easy they are to distinguish?

Re:Nothing new (5, Informative)

Cobalt Jacket (611660) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667185)

You are joking, right? Assembly of the first A350 won't even begin for about 5 years. It's not at design freeze. The 787 is about to roll out, and first flight is in a few months.

Re:Nothing new (4, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667403)

You are joking, right? Assembly of the first A350 won't even begin for about 5 years. It's not at design freeze. The 787 is about to roll out, and first flight is in a few months.

Yeah, it kind of reminds me of when Airbus called Boeing's composite barrel design "old fashioned" [nwsource.com]!

Bearing in mind that nobody has produced such a design yet, including Airbus. Until Boeing did it a couple of weeks ago, that is.

The A350 was designed in direct response to the 787, which surprised Airbus in the amount of interest it received (they had at the time placed their bets on the now-troubled A380 program, which may never break even). Saying the 787 copied any of the A350's design or construction methods is getting it completely backwards.

Re:Nothing new (5, Informative)

Hays (409837) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667197)

Both companies have been using carbon fiber. The 787 uses an unprecedented amount of it. You can't say it's nothing new by citing an Airbus project that doesn't have a scheduled delivery until 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A350 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nothing new (0, Offtopic)

boarder (41071) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667409)

There is nothing less satisfying than an AC getting proper owned like this. You know they are never going to find out how wrong and stupid they were.

Re:Nothing new (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667249)

How is the A350 an example of Airbus "doing it for quite some time now" when the first A350 won't be delivered until 2013?

Re:Nothing new (3, Informative)

LawnBoy (858717) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667319)

No, not really. The A350 is currently under development, well behind the development of the 787, which will be released first.

It's true that the A350 will use composites, but to imply that Boeing is trailing Airbus on this ("Nothing new") when Airbus is actually trailing Boeing is just inaccurate.

missed the best part... (3)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667039)

Breaking it isn't necessary for certification, but Bair says the wing is so strong and flexible that there's been talk that maybe it could be bend far enough for the wingtips to touch above the fuselage--or come quite close.

Re:missed the best part... (5, Funny)

kannibul (534777) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667111)

Enter the flapping apparatus! It'll make the passengers feel more comfortable, having their plane flap it's wings!

Ornithopter? (3, Informative)

dakirw (831754) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667407)

It'll make the passengers feel more comfortable, having their plane flap it's wings!
You mean like an ornithopter [wikipedia.org]?

I hope they test it! (5, Insightful)

chris098 (536090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667049)

From the article:

No one's ever really tried that before, so testing is critical.

Since this seems like such a new concept (please correct me if I'm wrong; I don't follow plane technology too much), it would just seem prudent to try bending the wings until they break... how can they make accurate judgments and calculations without knowing exactly how much stress the wings can take before snapping?

Re:I hope they test it! (2, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667081)

I watched a documentary about the 767 (I think that was it anyway) where they showed them snapping the wings - and it was pretty awesome. Off to search the intarwebs- that video has to be out there.

Re:I hope they test it! (3, Informative)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667199)

Or, you could just click the link that was posted with the article!

Re:I hope they test it! (2, Interesting)

Fireflymantis (670938) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667103)

I wonder what the argument for 'not' testing these wings up to breakage point?

Re:I hope they test it! (2, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667173)

They might as well - its not like they can then just stick it on a production model and sell it, since its already been over-stressed. Any failure post-production would bring HUGE lawsuits.

Re:I hope they test it! (5, Informative)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667175)

It's potentially more dangerous than an alumnium wing, 150+% of design load has to be a substantial amount of energy stored in the wing, and while aluminum will deform in failure (converting most of the energy to heat) carbon fiber seems more likely to shatter.

Re:I hope they test it! (5, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667397)

What I think will happen is that tips will meet. They'll try to compress the wings vertically, but before any definitive results are in, there will be a very loud "SPROING" in which case, the wings will be freed from their restraints. They will smash toward ground, propelling the plane into the air. As they bounce back to equilibrium the wings will flap carrying the plane roughly 1000km in the direction it was pointed. Eliminating the need for any fuels on short trips. Carbon Fiber FTW!

Re:I hope they test it! (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667459)

It's potentially more dangerous than an alumnium wing, 150+% of design load has to be a substantial amount of energy stored in the wing, and while aluminum will deform in failure (converting most of the energy to heat) carbon fiber seems more likely to shatter


What difference does it make if your wings shatter or merely deform? Either way, you're dead!

Re:I hope they test it! (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667291)

Not being privy to the argument I can only speculate, but I bet that there are other tests that people would like to perform on the prototype wings, which they won't be able to do if they break them during the load test.

Re:I hope they test it! (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667189)

"how can they make accurate judgments and calculations without knowing exactly how much stress the wings can take before snapping?"
You don't need to. You test to 150% of the rated load factor.
I think for for airliners it is +3 -2 Gs. It has been a few years since I needed to know it.
So you would test the wing to 4.5 Gs.
If it passes it is good to go.
Testing to destruction is good data to have but not required. If they get to to a 9 g load and the wing doesn't break I really think they could stop. Any airliner pulling a sustained 3 Gs will end up on the nightly news.

Re:I hope they test it! (2, Interesting)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667401)

Interesting post...

Agreed, the Boeing engineers for this project may have no need to know what happens, but you never know...might that data prove useful for other applications of the material?

I am no engineer (software engineer doesn't count, I know), but I'd think you'd want to test things to failure, of course where practical (as in not with a new bridge or building). If for no other reason than you have to learn all kinds of interesting things from breaking things, no?

Maybe that notion falls apart (pun intended!) in the real, non-software, world. But if a programmer says "that'll never happen, no need to test that!" I guarantee you someone will break it once it goes to production. The only way to test software is to shake and break.

Re:I hope they test it! (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667193)

Since this seems like such a new concept (please correct me if I'm wrong; I don't follow plane technology too much), it would just seem prudent to try bending the wings until they break... how can they make accurate judgments and calculations without knowing exactly how much stress the wings can take before snapping?

Not only that, you don't want to just take one data point. You need to break a number of them to get a good sample.

Is it obvious how much I like breaking crap?

Re:I hope they test it! (1)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667277)

Well... All it would take is a 6 hour FEA analysis. Any sophomore Mech Engg student can calculate it by hand in under 5 minutes to an order of magnitude accuracy and validate the FEA results and they can use the one they have for the left side of the first plane they sell...
P.S. You won't catch me flying ANA too soon...
Cheers!

Re:I hope they test it! (5, Informative)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667281)

There is no need to do so. As you bend the wings enough you are going to loose lift. You need to test to a good safety factor. The testing would be very expensive. You would want the thing heavily instrumented. The amount of mechanical energy would be very large and you would have to clean the mess up afterwards.

My doctorate is in Mechanical Engineering - Materials, in this case fracture mechanics. The fact that the wing is so strong suggests that it may be being over-designed. My graduate structures professor, who worked on the 747, point out that airplanes are designed for what might be called simultaneous mode failures -- there is no point in having the wings significantly stronger than the fuselage, as once the fuselage breaks the wings don't do you any good, you have just been carrying too much material in the wings. The same is true for all sub-systems. Hence, you have to do a very exhaustive analysis of the expected situations and make sure that all of them are appropriately covered, then you add a safety factor.

Typically, fatigue cracking has been the limiting factor in aircraft structures, and has caused numerous crashes. With the experience that has been gained in military programs, we should now know enough to use these composites properly.

Re:I hope they test it! (1, Interesting)

Var1abl3 (1021413) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667329)

I once had the great opportunity to watch them stress test a wing (I think it was for a 757) to failure at an undisclosed location in South Seattle. They had run it 28 feet off center for some millions of times (that is 14 foot bend up then 14 foot bend down from its resting position) using a hydraulic ram. Then they did the final test to see how far, and how much pressure, it takes to break. It was amazing to watch, it is not like it starts to bend and then fails with a kink in it... it actually EXPLODED with a very loud snap sound. Pieces of aluminum fling all over in the room, we were behind very thick glass with metal reinforcements in the glass, the wing had ripped itself apart. I am sure they will do a similar test, probably at the same location, sometime in the future. I hope they release a video of it. I also wish I had a cell phone camera back then to snap a pic of the thing being tested and then breaking. I will tell you the Boeing planes are made to stay in one piece! This is one reason I do not fly on Airbus..... I ask for Boeing planes when I get my tickets.

Why (not)? (5, Interesting)

borizz (1023175) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667063)

You could, instead of downright trying to see how much it will take, try to get it up to 200% (or something, I'm not an aerospace engineer) and see for how long it can hold up to extremes like that. Might be more valuable data. Maybe someone more in the know can elaborate.

Well... (4, Interesting)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667305)

The actual requirement from Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 25, Subpart C, paragraph 303 is where ultimate load definition comes from:

Unless otherwise specified, a factor of safety of 1.5 must be applied to the prescribed limit load which are considered external loads on the structure. When a loading condition is prescribed in terms of ultimate loads, a factor of safety need not be applied unless otherwise specified

The three second requirement comes out of paragraph 305(b):

(b) The structure must be able to support ultimate loads without failure for at least 3 seconds. However, when proof of strength is shown by dynamic tests simulating actual load conditions, the 3-second limit does not apply. Static tests conducted to ultimate load must include the ultimate deflections and ultimate deformation induced by the loading. When analytical methods are used to show compliance with the ultimate load strength requirements, it must be shown that--
(1) The effects of deformation are not significant;
(2) The deformations involved are fully accounted for in the analysis; or
(3) The methods and assumptions used are sufficient to cover the effects of these deformations.


If our intrepid engineers manage to test to 200% for 3 second, then somebody is going to come along and say, "let's see if we can make the wings lighter"

Good thing or bad thing?....depends upon your point of view I guess.

As it turns out, validating airframe structures with respect to FAA airworthiness requirements is kinda what I do for a living.

Re:Well... (1)

borizz (1023175) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667367)

Thanks.

I could have guessed that any part of the structure that's overspecced would be weakened to save weight. After all, weight is fuel is money, right?

The 787 (4, Funny)

kannibul (534777) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667071)

The 787 will be the envy of "tuner" kidz everywhere with it's carbon fiber wings.

If only one could find a 4ft diameter chrome exhaust tip...

Who cares if they bend (2, Insightful)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667105)

Of course, having the wings be flexible is a good thing, but the real important part here is that they are made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is much less dense than metal, which reduces the weight of the plane. If the surface area of the wings is held constant, then fuel consumption can be reduced significantly, as the downward pull of gravity is shrunk as well.

Re:Who cares if they bend (0, Troll)

Fireflymantis (670938) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667341)

Sorry, I didn't realise that you could shrink the downward pull of gravity. I am fairly certain that it stays at about 9.81 m/s^2... Oh! you mean that with less mass, the required lift generated by the wings can be reduced relative against forward velocity and surface area, thus requiring less forward thrust to maintain speed/altitude. Delightful.

Re:Who cares if they bend (1)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667441)

Actually, if you go higher up in the atmosphere, the value of small g does decrease, as the distance between you and the Earth increases. What you can't change is Big G, the universal gravitational constant.

And yeah, I did realize I wrote "weight" instead of the proper term, "mass", but then again, this is Slashdot.

Re:Who cares if they bend (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667351)

Drag is more important for fuel consumption. Less weight means that they could potentially fly more slowly and still stay aloft, but that would increase travel times, so you're not going to see it happen. My guess is that they can reduce the profile of the airfoil (reducing the lift), and thus reduce drag some, which will decrease fuel consumption, but it is a somewhat indirect step from lower weight to lower fuel consumption.

The lower weight might have the effect of worsening the effects of turbulence as well. I would not put it past airlines to artificially weight these planes down in order to counteract that. I don't think that they will, but I would not be surprised if they did.

The wings bend that much?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667121)

Well shit, if they can bend that much, why not make the thing just flap its wings like a bird instead of using jet engines!!

I really don't see the big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667127)

I really don't see what the fuss is about.

This machine is not going to go appreciably faster or farther than the current crop.

It's frankly shocking how little civilian aviation has advanced in the last 30 years. In fact, it has regressed, with the retiring of the Concorde.

Why can't I fly from LA to New Zealand in less than 12 or so hours?

Don't Boeing, et. al. developed technology for the US Military? Could we not have some of that (which our tax dolalrs pay for, after all) to make our own traveling a little faster for us poor average non-military folk? It would be spent much better on that, IMHO.

Re:I really don't see the big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667213)

The problem is the sound barrier. It's just not fuel efficient to fly faster. Also you have the sonic boom issues over populated areas.

Re:I really don't see the big deal (5, Informative)

Cobalt Jacket (611660) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667231)

The point of the 787 is to fly further, more cheaply. So while costing less to fly, it is also supposed to do to the Pacific what the Boeing 767 did to the Atlantic market. That is, the 767 brought in a revolution of being able to connect mid-sized cities on both continents, rather than forcing people to go through hubs on larger aircraft such as the 747 or DC-10.

Re:I really don't see the big deal (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667235)

I've ridden in military aircraft - you are better off with what you have - trust me.

Re:I really don't see the big deal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667263)

What, your point is that all the many advances in civillian aircraft over the last 30 years are trash, just because you want to go supersonic? Compare the cost of that LA-NZ ticket now versus 30 years ago and get back to me.

Forget supersonic -- no way for that to be efficient. Make me a plane that's cheap enough to operate per cubic foot that I could have some creature comforts. Oh, wait... making planes cheaper to operate is Boeing's primary development goal.

Reason for not testing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667133)

The summary leaves out an important detail (to be fair, so does the blog entry) about why there is even a debate as to whether to test the wing to failure. When carbon fibre "breaks", it creates lots of carbon dust as well as small shards. The dust is quite toxic to humans and can contaminate equipment and the shards are very sharp, akin to glass. Bottom line, it would be very messy and would require hazmat like conditions to clean up.

Re:Reason for not testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667483)

Great, so when a 787 crashes, and the wings shatter into quadrillions of little tiny pieces and toxic-to-humans dust, then we'll need to have hazmat teams to clean it up every time!

Design accommodations? (1, Interesting)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667135)

Perhaps this is an inane question, but did Boeing redesign their aeroplane to accommodate the flex-wings? The craft will be lighter, they can utilize the increased flex to their advantage (refer to the McLaren front wing in their F1 cars) and such. I presume from the 787 name that it will remain a similar design to existing crafts, but research is probably under way...Let's hope for the best

Regardless, this should be a cheaper aircraft to operate. But are we going to be paying lesser for flights? I don't think so... But can they atleast put in smoking sections at airports or develop technology so that I do not have to remove my shoes everytime I want to smoke at a stopover?

Cheers!

Re:Design accommodations? (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667261)

"develop technology so that I do not have to remove my shoes everytime I want to smoke at a stopover?"

Such technology already exists [nicodermcq.com].

Re:Design accommodations? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667271)

Or you could, you know, give up a disgusting habit that is poisoning you.

Re:Design accommodations? (4, Funny)

mustafap (452510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667385)

>Or you could, you know, give up a disgusting habit that is poisoning you.

What? Give up slashdot? Never. I'll die first.

Re:Design accommodations? (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667293)

Some airports have smoking lounges... though I think it depends mostly on local laws at this point.

Re:Design accommodations? (1)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667423)

Fewer do than not... Atlanta only has it in their intl terminal, Salt Lake City and Detroit have one while Richmond, Portland, Chicago, Washington, Tampa, Seattle all do not (IIRC)... Maybe kayak should come up with a 'Smoking route search' that only routes you through airports that do not need you to go through security to smoke. Should be an easy twaek to their software...I'd pay 10-15 bucks more...
Cheers!

Next step (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667159)

All they need now are large hydraulic actuators then airplanes could flap their wings as they fly thru the air.

Slashdot Poll (5, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667163)

If any article screams out for a Slashdot poll, this one is it.

1. Chicken out and don't break 'em
2. See how far they go and post it to YouTube
3. Orinthop mode! Pull 'em back and let 'em flap!
4. Cowboy Neal

Shopping for planes has never looked more fun (4, Funny)

ajenteks (943860) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667171)

Airbus: Care for some metal wings?
Boeing Client: No, thank you, I take them flexible, like my women.

While its great they are so flexible (4, Insightful)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667181)

Does it really matter if, because of how they are bent, you lose lift?

What? (4, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667443)

The engineers at Boeing are smart enough to design the wing for optimal performance under normal conditions. That includes whatever wing bending occurs under nominal conditions.

If the aircraft is experiencing extreme conditions which are bending the wing excessively, then you _want_ to lose lift, rather than stress the wing and airframe more. Kind of like how sailors change to smaller sails during storms.

Re:While its great they are so flexible (2, Interesting)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667497)

Well, if they can reach a 10G loading limit, that could mean the 787 just might make a great aerobatic aircraft as well.

I mean who wouldnt want to see the 787 doing aerobatics at the next air show. I would definitely pay a ticket to see this. Maybe they could even get old Tex Johnston to fly it as well as he has some experience here... :-)

Re:While its great they are so flexible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667515)

Lift is not lost from bent wings. Lift would be lost if the angle of attack was lost. Lift is derived from angle of attack and those big honking engines. As long as the pilot can get an upward angle -- the plane will fly.

Just how that would be done with compromised control surfaces -- that is up to the pilot to figure out.

I say let 'em break it... (2, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667187)

...as long as they post a video of it on their website!

Re:I say let 'em break it... (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667269)

Hear, hear! Engineering companies should be required by law to post failure test video clips on their websites.

Interesting, but... (1)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667191)

...What happens in the case of violent turbulence with wings that can bend? If they're flexible enough to be wrapped around to touch above the fuselage, are they also flexible enough to warp or twist? The last thing I want to try is a barrel roll in a passenger jet...

That's a pretty complex question... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667391)

There are a few ways of handling that issue but, suffice to say, aero-elastic behaviour is a discipline in and of itself. I'll throw out a couple of possibilities knowing full well that there is no way I can go into much detail in this forum.

ONE OPTION: Use the layup to tailor the bending axis of the wing so that it will respond to a gust in a self-correcting fashion.

SOMETHING COMMONLY DONE TODAY: Hang the wing mounted engines in on pylons that put the engine CG ahead of the wing, this has a tendancy to stabilize it's aero-elastic response.

Just a couple of thoughts.

Mythbusters anyone? (3, Funny)

YojimboJango (978350) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667195)

Am I going to be the first person here to think these engineers sound like they're just having way too much fun with this?

Also I wonder what would break first, the wing, or the connection to the plane. I'm expecting the video to hit the internet in about a week.

Re:Mythbusters anyone? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667283)

Am I going to be the first person here to think these engineers sound like they're just having way too much fun with this?

Hopefully the last. *I* don't want to fly in a plane built by engineers working at Dilbert's office.

Do it MythBusters style! (1, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667201)

If they don't break, ensure they break in some way! ;-)

Seriously though, that idea isn't useful only for entertainment and cool effects, it is useful to know the tipping point, what boundaries they're actually working with, and not just to see if it does or does not work. And as they so often tell there -- the only way to know for sure is to test it in the real world on a non-scale model!

One year ago? How about twelve? (4, Informative)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667211)

"They have come a long way from even just a year ago."

The linked video may have been uploded about a year ago, but it cites as its source a PBS production from 1995. (Which, incidentally, is discussing an entirely different airplane, the 777.)

Engineers Vs Managers (1)

jayayeem (247877) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667217)

I can't imagine that the debate is really among the engineers. Any engineer that I've known would want to break the wings, just because it would be fun, make a big mess and a loud noise. The debate must be between the engineers and some management element that wants to portray the wings as 'unbreakable'

Errors in post? (3, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667227)

Anyone notice that the "year ago" was a video of "Boeing 777 Wing Ultimate Load Test"

Anyone notice that the date on the file is 1/14/1995?

The implication that this was a 787 wing in test a year ago - is in error....

Old News: Flexible wings on the Boeing B-47 (4, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667233)

Thin flexible wings date back to the Boeing B-47. Up until this plane appeared in 1947, planes tended to have thick rigid wing structures. Advances in aeronautics, fluid dynamics, and structure design enabled engineers to create thin flexible swept wings that offered lower drag at high speed without flutter or breakage. The wings of B-47 (and B-52) were so floppy, they needed outrigger wheels to keep the wings from dragging on the ground during landings and take-offs.

Aerospace topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19667237)

Slashdot needs an "Aerospace" or "Aeronautics" news category to compliment "Space." "Science" or "Hardware" don't fit all that well to stories about aicraft.

Don't break it (5, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667239)

A bit of wisdom from a Retired Boeing exec who I forgot the name of.

The story was about one of the earlier Boeing's, they had stressed the wing to like 10 times any theoretical force that could be possibly placed on it during a rather publicized testing of its strength. They test folks were all about trying to break it.

During the process of doing this an exec asked them what they were doing. "Breaking the wing" they replied.
The exec said No, stop the testing.

Why? the testers asked.
Because the headline won't read ,

"Boeing wing breaks at 40 times the stress encountered during possible flight conditions",

Instead it will read

"New wing of new Boeing Jet Breaks".

Please note Its been awhile since I heard that story, but I think the point is pretty clear.

Ok (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667251)

So if you don't break it, how do you know for sure when it will break? Sure there's simulation, but that's... simulation.

 

They don't (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667491)

They don't need to know when it will break. They need to know that it won't break under the most extreme flight conditions, plus some safety factor. As an example, say the wing experiences 50% more load than normal during the worst storm. If they make sure it doesn't break at 150% added load, it's fine with me. (Granted, I'd still want this to be a real test, not simulation.)

They have come a long way... (1)

SlashNut (314126) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667253)

"They have come a long way from even just a year ago."
Makes it sound like that test didn't go well. It did. The failure was at 154% Sounds great to me.

Time to cash in (2, Funny)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667259)

This would make one heck of a good video for Youtube would if it's done right. I would be very interested to watch the test accompanied by the 1812 overture with the wings snapping in a spectacular fashion just as the drums hit! Oh, and add two squirrels and a cat fighting to the video. And while you're at it add lightsabers and two chicks kissing. Now that would make a good video!

747 Wing Flex (3, Interesting)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667265)

Airplane wings flex quite a bit more than you'd expect. Airliners.net has a great head-on shot of a 747 taking off [airliners.net] that shows the wingtips flexed up higher than the fuselage. Kinda freaky looking.

Fuel? (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667321)

Flexing when empty is one thing, but wouldn't it have a tendency to sag more when filled when fuel? I'm sure they've engineered something that's reliable, but the flexibility of them has to be hindered when they're completely filled.

Can bend mean will bend? (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667417)

I'm glad they can bend like crazy and all, but does that mean they will bend more during flight or that they can just take extra abuse should it arise? Speaking as someone terrified of flying, often close to pissing his pants whenever the wings wiggle, I just want to know if I should just pull the flap down and not look out the window at all anymore.

Re:Can bend mean will bend? (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667479)

They design the wing to take whatever nature'll throw at it, then test it to 150% of that. You can probably relax about the wing. Flexing is good, btw - a rigid wing would snap.

As for pulling down the flap, you're SOL on the 787 - apparently they're going to have fancy LCD dimmers on the windows, so no flap!

This is your captain... (5, Funny)

Taimat (944976) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667489)

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking... If you take a look out the windows on the left side of the plane, you will notice our right wing....

EA announces the next Need For Speed! (1)

dotHectate (975458) | more than 6 years ago | (#19667505)

With the recent advances in carbon fiber technology, EA thought it would be best to keep up with times. The new NFS game will now include a chance to pimp out your airplanes with neon, spinners, and of course, replacement carbon fiber parts.

Apparently the failure of the SUV racing mode wasn't sufficient, it's time to go bigger and badder!
[/sarcasm]

Personally, I'm curious as to how much flex they expect during a regular flight... wouldn't that affect the plane's potential lift force?
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