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Boeing’s relationship with composite materials

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Boeing’s first use of fiberglass was in the 707, amounting to only 2 percent of the structure! Under contract with NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Boeing experimented with advanced composites by using carbon fiber for the spoilers on two dozen 737s in the 1970s and for the horizontal tails on five more 737s that flew with airlines starting in 1982.

After that, each generation of new aircraft built by Boeing had an increased percentage of composite material usage. Today, for most commercial aircraft applications, carbon fiber-based composites are now the leading materials on the market.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was the first major commercial airplane to have a composite fuselage, composite wings, and use composites in most other airframe components. This aircraft is 80% composite by volume! By weight, the material contents are 50% composite, 20% aluminum, 15% titanium, 10% steel, and 5% other.

Each Boeing 787 aircraft contains approximately 32,000 kg of CFRP composites, made with 23 tons of carbon fiber! Composites are used on the fuselage, wings, tail, doors, and interior.

Boeing 707