How Is A Composite Comercial Jet Aircraft Built?

Aircraft using composite metals have shaken up the commercial aviation industry. The prime examples of this technology are…

How Is A Composite Comercial Jet Aircraft Built?

Aircraft using composite metals have shaken up the commercial aviation industry. The prime examples of this technology are the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, both of which have been huge successes for their companies. But how are composite aircraft built? How does it differ from previous aircraft? Let’s find out.

Boeing drastically increased the percentage of composites used in the 787s, bringing significant efficiency gains. Photo: Getty Images

What is a composite?

Before digging in, it’s important to understand what even is a composite material. While the term composite means a mixture of any two or more materials, in aviation, it has come to define a specific mixture. In the case of 787 and A350, it usually involves a fiber-reinforced plastic, such as carbon fiber or kevlar, mixed with plastic resins. This composite is then stacked in several layers and frozen to become a solid foundation.

The biggest gain from using composites is weight savings. The composite materials have allowed manufacturers to shed thousands of kilograms of excess weight from planes, making them far more aerodynamically efficient. Simply put, the more the use of composites, the more efficient an aircraft can be.

Qatar Airways, Airbus A350, Degrading Paint
The A350 uses the highest percentage of composites of any widebody currently in active use. Photo: Airbus

Composites themselves aren’t a new concept and were used over three decades before the 787. For instance, the 777 featured 12% composite materials, while the A380 used 25% composites. While this achieved some weight savings, aluminum was the single largest component in use for the 777 at 50%, still leaving it heavy by today’s standards.

Break it down

Commercial composite jets are built like any other plane, built in separate parts around the globe and put together on an assembly line. For the 787, much of the fuselage, wings, sections of the tail, and more are made of composites, composing 50% of the total weight. This brings about a weight saving of 20% over aluminum, according to Boeing, a significant feat.

The use of 50% composites in the 787 fuels the aircraft’s dominance among carriers globally and why it can fly such long-haul missions. Moreover, they are the reason behind the plane’s distinct wing flex during takeoff.

Boeing 787 Composite Use
Photo: Boeing

Airbus may have been second to introduce a majority-composite aircraft, but beats out Boeing in how much it uses. The A350 is made of 53% carbon fiber composites, making much of the wings and fuselage.

Making the fibers itself is a delicate and crucial task, one which requires years of development. Once the threads are woven, they are braided together, put onto the aircraft component, and locked in with plastic resin to create the strong material needed to survive thousands of flight cycles.

Airbus Carbon Fiber weaving
Airbus uses a custom carbon fiber weaving and soaking process for its composites. Photo: Airbus

The shape and amount of composite required changes by component and design, with no two parts being the same. Every part we see on the outside is made of millions of composite braids joined together meticulously. Once designed, however, the process is quick, allowing manufacturers to make dozens of planes a month if needed.

Leaps

The coming decades will see new clean-sheet aircraft use even more composites to lighten the weight. As the technology advances, aircraft will become more efficient and environmentally friendly. For now, commercial composite jets have changed the market and will continue to do so for years to come.

What do you think about the use of composites in commercial jets? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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LATAM Confirms Plans To Relaunch 787 Sydney Flights Via Auckland

LATAM Airlines Group is hoping to relaunch its iconic Santiago-Auckland-Sidney route during 2022’s first quarter, the airline confirmed…

LATAM Confirms Plans To Relaunch 787 Sydney Flights Via Auckland

LATAM Airlines Group is hoping to relaunch its iconic Santiago-Auckland-Sidney route during 2022’s first quarter, the airline confirmed Simple Flying today. This flight has been suspended since 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions worldwide. Nevertheless, there could be a date in sight to relaunch it.

LATAM wants to reactivate its routes to Auckland and Sydney next year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The iconic route

In 2019, LATAM Airlines Group had two destinations in Australia and one in New Zealand. The airline operated the routes Santiago de Chile-Auckland-Sydney, Santiago de Chile-Sydney, and Santiago de Chile-Melbourne, offering 36,091 seats per month.

LATAM used its Boeing 787-8 fleet to connect with Melbourne and the bigger 787-9 to Auckland and Sydney. Simple Flying reviewed LATAM’s business class between Sydney and Auckland in 2019.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Air New Zealand and Qantas also flew between Oceania and South America. Air New Zealand connected Auckland with Buenos Aires using its B777-200/200ER fleet; Qantas flew between Sydney and Santiago with its Boeing 747-400 fleet. Nowadays, there are zero scheduled commercial flights between both regions, although Qantas did operate its largest flight ever between Buenos Aires and Darwin last week.

Both regions have had some of the strictest travel restrictions worldwide, which hasn’t helped either to restore the connectivity. Nevertheless, LATAM expects things will change shortly.

LATAM B787
LATAM will use the Boeing 787-9 in these routes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Relaunching the route

Today, LATAM sources confirmed Simple Flying that restoring the routes to Auckland and Sydney is a possibility. The route to Melbourne is still suspended, and there’s no date in sight yet.

At the earliest, LATAM would reactivate the route from March 1, 2022, with three weekly flights using its B787-9 fleet. Then, it could increase to six flights per week by the end of March.

LATAM is very interested in restoring its connectivity to New Zealand and Australia, as it was a unique market. Moreover, the airline also has invested in acquiring slots at these hubs, so it should have a strong incentive to keep on flying these routes.

Nevertheless, many things can still go wrong between today and that date. The airline sources did point out that travel restrictions have to be eased on both sides, and the pandemic has to continue its downwards trajectory before an official announcement can be made.

LATAM Confirms Plans To Relaunch 787 Sydney Flights Via Auckland
LATAM is currently offering 846 flights to international destinations not in Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

How’s LATAM international connectivity?

In October 2021, LATAM Airlines Group is offering 846 flights to international destinations not in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The carrier (currently under Chapter 11) has a capacity of 224,206 seats in these routes. LATAM has 19 international routes not to Latin America and the Caribbean, mainly to the US.

A couple of years ago, LATAM offered 1,483 monthly flights, including destinations like Johannesburg (from Sao Paulo) and Sydney. LATAM Airlines Group still has to recover 43% of its pre-pandemic capacity and 17 routes, according to stats by Cirium.

According to its latest projections, the South American carrier expects to recover its international long-haul connectivity by 2024 fully. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, LATAM has reshaped and resized its long-haul fleet. It has converted quite a few Boeing 767-300ERs into freighters, rejected the leases of its Airbus A350 fleet, and sent some Boeing 787 Dreamliners from Chile to Brazil (to fill the gap left by the exit of the A350).

Would you want to travel onboard LATAM’s Santiago-Auckland-Sydney route? Let us know in the comments below.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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