I'm starting to re-think my dedication to JetBlue, given that they fly these things.
At 35 000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45pm last Sunday, the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310's rudder -- a structure over 8m high -- had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside.
Hmm, now, do I want to fly on an aircraft put together by people who hark the virtues of the 35 hour work week, and take a "eh, whatever" approach to their jobs, or one put together by people who ask for overtime to pay off their new sports car?
Paging Free Market, value-added airline based out of New York and flying Boeing aircraft required.
There are a few things in the article which really raise the hair, however. Apparently AirBus is using composites for critical aircraft parts.
The firm recently launched its superjumbo, the two-storey A380, which is due in service next year. Like earlier Airbus models, this relies heavily on "composite" synthetic materials which are both lighter -- and, in theory, stronger -- than aluminium or steel. Fins, flaps and rudders are made of a similar composite on the A300 and A310, of which there are about 800 in service all over the world
Now, carbon and kevlar resin-based composites are certainly cool. They offer a great deal of tensile strength with very little weight, traits which are rather popular in aircraft and cars. However, the problem with composites is that they have next to no malleability. If you bend a piece of steel or aluminum, it will suffer a loss of structural strength, but it won't catastrophically fail (e.g. break in half). Composites will.
And AirBus is using them for control surfaces? That's just scary.
posted by Mr. Lion | 03/15/05 @ 08:58 | comments (1)