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AA Boeing 787 damaged by lightning.

Aviation Maintenance shared a picture of the top fuselage of an American Airlines Dreamliner. The Boeing 787 experienced extensive damage to its composite fuselage crown when it was hit by lightning during flight. Summer is the season for thunderstorms, and sometimes lightning can strike an aircraft that is flying. However, a lightning strike on an aircraft is not dangerous, as aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes. ( More...

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David Beattie 15
Composite structures have been around for 30 years and we are still hearing the old “it’ll never fly Orville” crap.
Philip Schultz 12
I got hit by a strike 50 years ago. The damage was not from the strike itself but from the water or moisture inside instantly Turing to steam. The steam did the damage.
wigmore hoover 7
did your shoes survive .?
wayne holder 1
Roy Hunte 5
You or your aircraft?
Jim DeTour 3
Yep that's typically the structure problem. Metal frames or screens with plaster or any other moisture along a conductive path it's poof the moist containing parts takeoff. Adobe with metal beams get the same. Might be a future for the composite planes to have systems to reduce moisture around important parts, not that all of them aren't. That's Texas where the rain falls sideways and snakes get friendly with guys making shade in the brush.
Eric Rindal 5
The repair to of the carbon structure is not that difficult for a relatively small patch such as this. I have been involved in repairing a beech starship in the past. The patch will be heavier and likely stronger than was the original section. The hard part is getting the lightning wire mesh adequately re-bonded to the remaining mesh. Getting that to pass inspection can be challenging.
John Nichols -8
Nope. The original monolithic two phase material cannot "reform". It can only be glued to the patch, there is no "recure"...strength of the repair is greatly reduced.

Where do you get "stronger" than original?
Energy spread is completely compromised. The repair is only a "join" and will ultimately fail.
The join is an adhesive bond, it's not a continuous structure....
Eric Rindal 12
I have seen a pair of starship tipsails unbonded from the wing and repaired. I have seen a fuselage hole repaired with a plug overlapped patch built up from the inside which will never fail.

Structural repairs were well thought out by both Beech and then Boeing prior to certification. The maintenance manual describes procedures for authorized repairs to various structures. Structurally the hole is not the issue as carbon structure has many redundant paths, especially in a cylindrical structure so the only test of strength required is likely to be to resist cabin pressure.

A lot of parts on this aircraft are bonded so nothing new there either.
More material generally will mean stronger. You would not want the whole plane to have excess material but for a small localized area of repair, a new W&B calc and all will be good.
Eric Rindal 10
In addition to using a robust structural design in damage-prone areas, such as passenger and cargo doors, the 787 has been designed from the start with the capability to be repaired in exactly the same manner that airlines would repair an airplane today � with bolted repairs. The ability to perform bolted repairs in composite structure is service-proven on the 777 and offers comparable repair times and skills as employed on metallic airplanes. (By design, bolted repairs in composite structure can be permanent and damage tolerant, just as they can be on a metal structure.)

In addition, airlines have the option to perform bonded composite repairs, which offer improved aerodynamic and aesthetic finish. These repairs are permanent, damage tolerant, and do not require an autoclave. While a typical bonded repair may require 24 or more hours of airplane downtime, Boeing has taken advantage of the properties of composites to develop a new line of maintenance repair capability that requires less than an hour to apply. This rapid composite repair technique offers temporary repair capability to get an airplane flying again quickly, despite minor damage that might ground an aluminum airplane.
Roy Hunte 6
A well researched and thought out response to someone who hasn't taken note of technological advancements in composites.
I've been following the composites industry for over a decade, I can see where his response would carry weight as recently as 15 years ago, but the rapid advancement in technology, especially by Boeing, Airbus, and other aerospace companies in the building and inevitable repairs of their products, John Nichols' response is well out of date.
Shenghao Han 3
That is not how carbon fiber COMPOSITE works, nor why its preferred to aluminum as aircraft skin material.

787 fuselage is made with carbon fiber tapes and bounded with epoxy anyway, it is not a continuous structure (nose and forward fuselage, main fuselage, rear fuselage and tail) nor monolithic.

Heck only thing can be monolithic on a plane is the turbine blades, which are usually from one large metal crystal. Metal fuselage panels are not really monolithic, it looks like a huge metal piece, but in reality, it's formed with many tiny metal crystals.
I suppose we could breaking thins REALLY down and say they are all just atoms..... :-)
HP Baumeister 1
Just like you and me😹
Bob Wolff 4
Oh, that'll just buff right out … 😆
Peter Connor 6
The posts on topics such as this are interesting to me as I often wonder, "How'd they do that," when repairing aircraft that sustain damage of one kind or another. It's partly why I enjoy my Friday issue of FlightAware!
Shenghao Han 3
Just some more carbon fiber patches and epoxy... pretty much like how they patch metal planes...

787 is made of Carbon fiber tapes anyway, just many layers of it with epoxy binding them.
Note, there are joints on 787. Sure, carbon fiber is stronger when it's a continuous tape... but really, they are not continuous from nose to tail.

When testing composite materials back in college, we don't really make a fuss about if the fiber is continues or not.
mimana 2
There is an actual hole in the fuselage. At 35K feet would matter.
The Boeing 767 that hit Tower 1 was a stronger plane, it cut right through the building like a hot knife through butter. But a really weak plane was the Boeing B-25 bomber that hit the Empire State Building in 1945, it hit the building and fell to the street below like a sparrow.
Randall Bursk 3
Lightning strike or static discharge. Aircraft have static wicks for dissipating charge back into the air. Part of the preflight inspection by pilot. When a strike happens, procedure to check systems for normal operation. Continue or return, etc. Entry into logbook, maintenance will inspect and return to flight, or schedule for maintenance. Good flights.
John Taylor 1
On the venerable KC-135, the static discharge wicks were found to be non-effective and once they broke off, they were not replaced. To find a 135 with a complete set of wicks is impossible.
Jeffrey Bue 3
That's gonna be an expensive repair.
Mike Boote 4
And I read that Boeing is using less copper now due either to weight or cost issues. Sigh.
hal pushpak 19
Boeing? Cost cutting? Surely you jest.. (And don't call me Shirley.)
numb9 5
Very good...
Mike Boote 4
Roger, Roger.
Chris B 1
Repairs will be expensive, another opportunity to profit.
numb9 6
"Pay me now, or Pay me later"...
Ron Wroblewski 0
With Boeing these days it's all about cost, if true.


Gotta pay those shareholders
David Fenner 7
No profit, no business, no employees, no jobs
cyberjet 0
If no one buys your crappy planes, say goodbye to those profits.
cyberjet 0
No one buys your crappy planes, no profits.
Rick Gay 1
Shareholders equals Themselves
Jeffrey Bue 0
Derek Vaughn 2
What is underneath the composite skin?
John Nichols 15
Food cart and pax.
Eric Rindal 1
Many companies now offer engineered composite repair service from de-lam to structural part repairs.

Here is one example:
Jawaralal Melvin 1
Yes, a local hobby shop here in Mumbai is doing quick repairs for Air India, according to unreliable sources, not to be confused with reliable sources. They usually share the same offices.
Gary Simmons 1
Interesting reading
MSU Sparty 1
That article didn’t say much
Dale Johnson 0
How are composit structure repaired? I assume they can't just put a patch over the damage, they must have to cut away an entire section of the fuselage and replace mating the sections together somehow, Glue? :)
Jeffrey Bue 11
Structural composites are repaired using what we call a "scarf" repair. Basically, we remove the damaged area by creating a tapered scarf in the composite structure. Afterwards the scarfed area is filled in with a composite patch that is either secondarily bonded or co-cured to the remaining structure. The repair is then inspected using ultrasonics to make sure there's no voids or remaining delaminations. This repair will also have to include some lightning strike material on the outer ply of the repair patch which is tied into the the existing copper mesh on the fuselage - to create the required electrical bond for potential future lightning strikes.
John Nichols -8
No matter how much is "cut away", it still remains an adhesive joint, not a monolithic continuum....

Composites cannot be "repaired", except "mechanically"...
Dave Mathes 4
...well crap John, I'll just use composite rivets then...problem solved...
Roy Hunte 4
Your response is about 15 to 20 years out of date. Recent advancements in composites, have proved that patches and repairs can be just as strong or slightly stronger than the original surface.
Jeffrey Bue 2
That statement is not true. I've been working in structural composites for A/C for over 40 years a we've repaired damage similar to this multiple times using a bonded scarf - no fasteners.
John Nichols 0
You confuse "bonded", a joint, with "cured", a monolithic polymeric continuous structure. Once cured,the two phase, epoxy/fabric cannot be uncured.The border of through and through separation can only be "glued" together with a separate material. The fuselage is bonded in a continuous winding of four inch wide Carbon tape, drenched in epoxy and autoclaved. That is not 15 year old data....

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