Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner plane is considered a “composite” airplane, using mostly carbon fiber in its structure. Clover Park Technical College began offering a new course on composites, which is luckily just miles away from a Boeing plant in Frederickson, WA. Why so lucky? They brought students in to share information with students, hoping to grow their pool of talent. They partnered with the college and helped by donating tools and supplies for the class.
The thing you may be interested in is the part of the curriculum where they show how tough carbon fiber really is. They show this by trying to break a piece with a variety of methods like a sledgehammer, and even rolling a small plane over a piece. Take a look at the video and see for yourself:
Seeing this really gives you a true appreciation for how great of a material carbon fiber is.
Outside of this story, but still within the Boeing scope…Boeing put their new 787 Dreamliner under the “Ultimate-Load Wing Test”. This is where load is applied to the airframe (while on the ground) to replicate 150 percent of the most extreme forces the airplane is ever expected to experience while in service. During the test, the wings flex upward of approximately 25 feet.
The initial results were positive, but Boeing is doing more extensive analysis and review before they can consider it a complete test.