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Use of composites in aircraft still tricky

By control on May 3, 2013

The use of composite materials in aircraft remains an issue within the maintenance training community.

Composite materials are harder to be examined for cracks than aluminium.

But rising fuel prices have encouraged manufacturers to develop new materials that ensure uncompromised performance with reduced fuel consumption.

“Weight is essential when it comes to aircraft fuel consumption,” Kestutis Volungevicius, head of FL Technics Training, said. “The utilization of composites in such aircraft as Boeing 787 Dreamliner, where they correspond to about 50 percent of the structural weight, helps to reduce the final weight of the aircraft by approximately 20 percent in comparison to the usage of aluminium materials. Fifty-three percent of the upcoming Airbus A350 will be also made of composite materials.”

FL Technics Training is a provider of technical training for the aviation industry.

But composites are still relatively new, and aircraft with a significant amount of composite content have only recently started penetrating the market.

Volungevicius said handling and inspecting composite materials requires staff specializing in complex composite repairs.

“Practical experience is essential when it comes to composite repair training,” Volungevicius said. “Unfortunately, not every MRO provider has an extensive experience in composite repair segment, let alone a training organization. Then there is the lack of an industry-wide standard with regard to the training programs to consider. For these reasons, whether it is an MRO company or an individual wishing to develop a career in aircraft maintenance, one has to choose a composite repair training organization especially carefully.”