Dreamliner's Carbon Composite Body Unsafe? Wired Science Calls Bullshit

We told you the other day about Dan Rather's TV blather about how the Boeing 787 Dreamliner "could be unsafe" because of its carbon composite airframe, but now there are lots of experts disagreeing with that report. Aaron Rowe at Wired Science calls it "a cheap shot at Boeing," and chides the mainstream news media for following along like sheep without questioning Rather's assertions. In Rowe's scathing and carefully reasoned article, he pretty much exposes Rather's claims as nothing but scaremongering poppycock.

In the TV report aired on HDNet Tuesday, Rather said that an aluminum body is safer than a carbon fiber airframe because it's not brittle, won't shatter on impact and doesn't emit poisonous chemicals when it's burning. Rowe counters that by pointing out the plethora of toxic fumes to worry about if a plane crashes no matter what its airframe is made of, and then astutely points out that military aircraft, race cars, train cars and sports cars have been constructed of carbon composite for years and have been subjected to horrific forces that in some cases show carbon fiber holding up even better than aluminum.

Rowe also got in touch with Cirrus Design which has been building aircraft out of composite materials for years, and that company's experts add that in some cases composites have better energy absorption in an impact than aluminum.

Rowe has now updated his post with even more experts chiming in to agree that Rather's assertions weren't worth the HD they were broadcast on. It's a great read that gets right at the truth. [Wired]