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The cause of flight AF447's destruction over the Atlantic last week remains a mystery. But of all the possibilities, the one the aviation industry is arguably most worried about is failure of the plane's carbon-fibre tailfins, rudder or flaps.
If these parts weren't able to cope with the stresses caused by fierce weather conditions off the coast of Brazil, the industry may be forced to rethink its grand plan to replace metal aircraft with those made from lightweight composite materials.
The move to CFRP is the biggest shift in aircraft design since the introduction of all-aluminium pressurised aircraft in the 1950s. It is much lighter than metal, so planes can carry more passengers with the same amount of fuel, cutting fuel bills and carbon footprints. But questions have been raised about its safety.
If they are really that invested in moving toward carbon fiber, something tells me that their investigations will be inconclusive. Unless they absolutely can't cover it up, I don't expect this crash to put the kaibash on their plans.
The consortium's payroll will rise from 17,000 to 40,000 in the four participating countries, which divvy up the manufacturing in rough proportion to their Airbus ownership—37.9% for both France and West Germany, 20% for Britain, and 4.2% for Spain. The four have invested some $3 billion in the project