Composites are changing the commercial aircraft industry at an incredible pace, and Boeing Co. is leading the charge with its 787 Dreamliner. The Seattle (Wash) Times has been doing an excellent job covering the trend, most recently with this profile of Phil Lathrop, a composites expert who leads a trouble-shooting team that's working on what the story calls "the world's first airliner built largely of plastic." "I got lucky. I picked composites 28 years ago," Lathrop told the newspaper. "This is a composite guy's dream." This week the company will celebrate the completion of the first 787 tailfin. The link includes a photo of the fin, which will be assembled at Boeing's Frederickson, Wash., plant tomorrow. The leading edge of the fin was delivered complete from China, according to the story. Lathrop's five-man classic-rock band, named The Composites (of course), will play at a ceremony celebrating the milestone. The story points out that the University of Washington and some Seattle-area community colleges are working with Boeing to offer composites-materials training. Also, starting next month, the company and the Machinists union will start a 4-year apprenticeship program to train lead-composites technicians. This looks like a real growth market. And with fuel prices and conservation getting so much attention right now, I think a lot of people getting training in aerospace composites might soon be in demand from the automotive sector.
Composites revolutionize aircraft
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