Twitter Q&A: Ian Lane Composites Expert

Q: Tell me about durable, low cost & high temperature bearing composites?

A: High temp resins tend to be expensive, consider separation of heat sources within the design as an alternative.

Q: Have you ever imagined how to bring a traditional touch inside your masterpiece?

A: 100 years ago aircraft made of natural composite (wood), now we engineer a higher performance composite material.

Q: Why is wing-twist, which you are adding more of to A380, beneficial to fuel economy?

A: It is important on swept wings as you load the wings you get natural twist, so on bigger wings ground to flight twist is more. It is a carefully tuned design variable. For the wing to take up the best shape in flight.

Q: Which parts of an aircraft may be fabricated using Carbon fiber reinforced polymer?

A: Typical composite A350 parts include wing covers, spars, HTP, VTP and fuselage frames and shells.

Q: Is Carbon-fiber really the material of future? Please tell us about the economic aspects using C-fiber, a decade from now.

A: cost weight trade off on all parts when considering composites to decide the best material.

Q: What are the major strength criteria that you look for if a new composite material is proposed.

A: Damage tolerance, high strength to weight ratio, filled hole compression are major drivers.

Q: Is it ok to validate a new proposal of composite using simulation alone for basic load cases(tensile,bending,etc)?

A: We always match simulation with physical test performance.

Q: What are the problems for the composite structure of aircraft cabin due to increase in the interior humidity levels?

A: Epoxy resins are naturally hydroscopic, they soak up water. We account for this with hot/wet design values.

Q: Why can't we simply use a hydrophobic coating like Teflon on the cabin walls and increase the moisture within?

A: No need. The structures are designed using hot/wet design values. The Teflon would add weight.

Q: For the winglet project what wing dimension should we take?

A: Winglets should be custom designed to suit specific wing geometry. Pick your wing and then go for it!

Q: I am in round 2 doing project on winglets is it necessary to go for fabrication or would a CFD analysis be good?

A: For your project I recommend to do your aerodynamics analysis first then structure design afterwards.

Q: What progress is being made into making proper, full life cycle composite aircraft material?

A: Life cycle analysis is always included in our composite research. Have a look here for more information. 

Q: What material would you recommend for a sustainable airship and why?

A: Whatever is light enough, strong and safe enough, and makes economic sense! Innovate!

Q: How do you analyze the effect of conductive paint (on some plies) on strength of a composite. It is in contact with epoxy.

A: Simulation and physical test along with an excellent understanding of the core physics.

Q: The next-gen (2025-2050) of planes will be 100% petrol, hybrid or 100% ecologic?

A: Have a look on our alternative fuels page to get a better idea about this.

Q: How does Airbus promote innovation within its own organisation?

A: Innovation is promoted from the top and everyone is encouraged and empowered to innovate. Find out more here.

Q:  Is BTV a standard feature on all future Airbus aircraft? Including the A350 and A320NEO?

A: You can read more about BTV here.

Q: Ian, what's the most critical process in composites? And what can do lean manufacturing in this field?

A: Our whole composite manufacturing process is critical. For lean try to focus on pre and post cure logistics.

Q: What impact will the ever rising cost of fuel have on future designs of aircraft in the next 20-30 years and could you provide the link to the concept plane section of the website?

A: Find out more information about the concept plane and the Future by Airbus here.

Q: Can you nullify the turbulent flow with Air blow system? 

A: Generally it is not possible to nullify turbulent flow with air injection but it is possible to delay flow separation or divert a turbulent stream to a new direction.

Q: How much stake does Airbus have in reaching the carbon emissions and fuel reduction goals outlined by IATA? 

A: Have a look at Airbus' Aviation Environmental Roadmap

Q: What makes sharklets more efficient than other standard wings? 

A: SharkletsTM  provide a level of lift and drag that represents a wing of increased span and so is beneficial where limits are placed on span for operational reasons.

Q: Is there any feasible ways of detecting vortices position relative to the plane? 

A: There are a number of alternatives that include seeding of the vortex for direct visualisation or non-invasive measurement using laser technology.

Q: What is your opinion on the use of Fuel Cells onboard? 

A: Here is some information on our web site about fuel cells.