De Havilland Comet Airplane Failure

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The Failure of the De Havilland Comet Aircraft

Following World War II and the jet engine technology that emerged largely toward its end, aerospace engineers knew well that the technology had great potential for use in the commercial aviation industry. The Comet was the first aircraft to utilize jet propulsion; however, its designers failed to consider the metallurgy of the aircraft’s materials under flight conditions or the consequences of their atypical window design. The aircraft was designed by Britain’s De Havilland Aircraft Company and entered service in May 1952. After a year of service, however, the design issues mentioned above resulted in the failure of several Comet aircraft. Extensive evaluations revealed that repeated pressurization …show more content…

The aircraft represented the first attempt to incorporate a relatively new technology in to a highly complex mechanical device. That task itself posed many problems which De Havilland engineers made great progress at solving, such as developing a system to keep the aircraft cabin at a stable pressure, integrating hydraulic controls, and constructing the fuselage so that it did not weigh too much but remained strong. Why exactly the design errors were not caught was primarily due to oversight. In several cases, notably the windows and the aluminum alloy, De Havilland engineers based their decisions on misleading data. They believed that, despite the Comet’s unusual design aspects, it erred very reasonably on the side of safety. Pressure from the British government to beat other companies and countries to the jetliner era certainly would have made De Havilland test as thoroughly as it could as quickly as it could, and in their haste the engineers did not detect damage which emerged quite gradually. The decision to test the aircraft under static conditions alone could well have been the result of data that suggested the fuselage was much stronger than it really was. Despite that, Comets did fly for about a year without any major incidents, and this fact serves as a testament to De Havilland’s bold and productive venture into revolutionary commercial aircraft

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