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Since today’s jet engines burn fuel at more or less the same rate, efficiency depends on reducing the weight of the plane, and “composite materials” (i.e., plastic) are an increasingly popular means to this end. Even though plastic has yet to achieve the same predictability and reliability as metal, the Dreamliner team opted to make greater use of plastic than ever before in an airliner, even employing it for the load-bearing joint that connects the wings to the fuselage, which bears more stress than any other part of the plane. Sure enough, in final static tests, the wing failed and had to be stiffened, at great cost. Boeing’s risky choice prompted one aerospace structural engineer to remark, “Friends don’t let friends fly in plastic airplanes.”
Boeing also made the copper wire that distributes power around a plane, another major contributor to overall weight, as thin as possible. The thinner the wire, however, the higher the voltage at which current must flow along it. As a result, the 787 is laced with miles of ultrathin copper wire, bearing current that runs at 230 volts AC and 270 volts DC, which would require only a scratch in the insulation to spark a fire (a likely cause of the Heathrow blaze). A fire is especially bad news in a plastic plane, since not only do the flames cause far more damage (the design-temperature limits of composite materials are half those of aluminum), but the fumes are highly toxic to passengers.
Amazing new plane keeps catching on fire. Here are the questions you've been asking and the answers you need.
Originally posted by Brandyjack
The project was behind schedule and getting expensive. Overseas manufacturers were not delivering on time, at cost, and as designed. Boeing chose to eliminate expenses by cutting corners and trying to get rid of Union workers. (Why do you think Boeing wanted to go to South Carolina. Bottom lineism at its best. By now, a rationale person would understand the old Soviet worker motto; they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.) The glad handers and picture painters were brought in. Figuring the amount Boeing will have to pay every Air Line, that had to ground the 787, and will in the future. Boeing is never going to turn a profit. Even Boeing employees have doubts about the safety of the 787. See what you get, when you turn Government Services and Enforcement over to private companies. Slip-slide into a hole. While Corporations get richer.