Aviation Composites

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For many years, aircraft designers had proposed theoretical concepts that they could not build because the materials they required were not yet in existence. The expression "unobtainium" is often used to classify resources that are sought after, but not yet available. For example, large air vehicles like the space shuttle would have been almost impossible to construct without heat-resistant ceramic tiles to protect them during reentry into the earth’s atmosphere.

Composite materials have become extremely useful and since been adapted for aviation. They have been in development ever since the use of aluminum in the early 1920’s. Composites are components that are mixtures of two or more inorganic or organic compounds. One material acts as a matrix, which is the compound that keeps everything together, while the other material provides a reinforcement, in the form of fibers embedded in the matrix.

Fiberglass has been the most recognizable composite material, and is made up of glass fibers inlayed in a resin matrix. Fiberglass got its start when it was first used in the 1950’s for autos and boats. Today most cars have a fiberglass bumper cover that is mounted to a steel frame. Fiberglass was first used on the design of the Boeing 707 airliner in the early 1950’s. The material accounted for about two percent of the planes structure. In the 1960’s, many more composite materials were being made available, in particular graphite and boron fiber, that was then inlayed in epoxy materials. The United States Air Force and United States Navy began their own research into using these types of materials for aircraft surfaces like ailerons, rudders and flaps. The first large scale military implementation of boron fiber was in the horizonta...

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... particular item or certain standard of living, it is difficult to try and adapt to the ever changing environment around you.

I believe that with the groundbreaking with the use of composites in aerospace, that slowly, the consumer population will be more welcoming to these new products into the market, especially once they have been put to the test and surpassed everyone’s expectations. Safety of flight is always the number one concern when trying to do something new with aircraft, and the more advanced our technology becomes, the better our safety records will be, and in turn it will raise the confidence of world travelers.

I am excited to follow up on this emerging technology as it advances and becomes more main stream and widely accepted, to see where it will go from here. I think that the attitudes towards this advancement will change for the positive.