Australian aircraft engineers have called for the grounding of the Airbus A380 – the world’s biggest passenger aircraft – after Singapore Airlines and Qantas found cracks in the wings of several planes.


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Is this a story? Australian aircraft engineers have called for the grounding of the Airbus A380 – the world’s biggest passenger aircraft – after Singapore Airlines and Qantas found cracks in the wings of several planes.

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3 comments

  • Rene Borbon

    I have begun to recently ponder how safe these new composite hybrid planes are given it is relatively new technology. Am I right about this being new technology, unproven?

  • Tom Billings

    “I have begun to recently ponder how safe these new composite hybrid planes are given it is relatively new technology. Am I right about this being new technology, unproven?

    Rene, composite materials technology was new in the 1960s, but it has been 50 years since the first large-scale aerospace use of composite materials (the Minuteman ICBM series had wound fiberglass/epoxy stages), and hundreds of billions of dollars of work has gone into making them reliable since then. The real questions will revolve around how they used the materials in the structures. They were building a very large airplane, that they *knew* would be restricted to a smaller number of airports than competing aircraft. Their desire to lighten the aircraft and match it to existing terminal facilities, so that they could maximize the number of airports it could fly into *might* have got the better of them, but by now the composite materials are a well-known asset for aircraft. Like all materials, they have their own tradeoffs, but those should have been well-known to the designers.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    A couple questions for any aerospace engineers (or just aviation experts): I know the new Boeing 787 is around 50% composite, the most ever for an airliner. How much of the Airbus 380 is constructed of composites? Were the cracks found in areas that were made of the composites, or metal? One final qustion: We know the risk for “metal fatigue” – are composites more or less prone to some form of “fatigue”? I thought they may be less prone to fatigue, but I’ll defer to the experts…

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