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GAO looks at assessment of Dreamliner's composites

October 25, 2011, 04:28 pm

Following the debut of Boeing's state-of-the-art Dreamliner 787 airplane, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report examining both the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency's evaluation of composite materials used in the construction of the fuselage and other components, according to Composites World.

The 50 page report was largely satisfied with both agencies' safety testing of the plane's composite materials. However, it did caution that some of the testing methodology was altered in order to better suit the materials, and these methods have yet to be proven.

"FAA applied five special conditions when it found that [the composite materials'] airworthiness standards were not adequate to ensure that the composite structures would comply with existing safety levels," the report states, according to the news source.

On the one hand, this is an indication of thoroughness on the part of the FAA - some methods of testing outdated metal alloys may not be applicable to composite materials. Despite this, the GAO cautions against the use of untried and potentially impartial tests.

Despite rigorous tests and a high bar for aircraft certification, accidents do happen. Many pilots cover their assets with a pilot insurance policy, which provides aviation specific life, health and property insurance coverage that many typical insurance policies may not include.

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