SAN DIEGO — Airlines want to involve major commercial aircraft makers in standardizing polymer matrix composites for original equipment, as well as repairs.
``It will save costs,'' said Carlos Blohm, an aircraft overhaul engineer with Lufthansa Technik AG in Hamburg, Germany.
Today, Boeing Co., Airbus Industrie, principal engine makers and key component suppliers must qualify composite materials for nearly every application.
``What we are doing here is the first step in a standardization on the material group, which has always been something loose or different than metals,'' Blohm said in an interview at the May 10-14 meeting of the Commercial Aircraft Composite Repair Committee in San Diego. Blohm is CACRC's 1997-99 chairman.
Commercial airlines pressed for formation of the repair committee in 1991, in an effort to resolve their repair and material problems with composites.
CACRC has completed more than 15 material specifications, recommended handling procedures and training documents and is circulating others for comment and approval.
The next step involves getting original equipment manufacturers to use the information, with Federal Aviation Administration approval, Blohm said. CACRC is carrying the message to OEM sites, addressing groups of engineers. Typically, OEMs do their own additional testing to verify that CACRC findings fall within their allowable tolerances.
CACRC's repair-design task force is developing a model of maintenance life-cycle costs for composite components.
``By having a life-cycle cost model, you can gather the complete cost of a composite,'' said task group Chairman Eric Chesmar, CACRC's 1999-2001 chairman and a United Airlines composites team leader in San Francisco.
``Up to this time, there has not been a lot of information to make decisions on how much a particular component might cost,'' said Timothy Harris, CACRC secretary and lead aircraft structural repair instructor with joint venture FlightSafetyBoeing Training International in Seattle.
Chesmar said CACRC's documents ``have addressed very specific [airline] complaints with a long history.''