Dreamliner load testing

Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, has successfully completed the ‘ultimate load testing’ of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner horizontal stabiliser. The test has been carried out at the Laboratory of Structural Tests at Alenia’s Pomigliano plant in Naples.

According to Boeing, the test is a fundamental step as part of the 787’s certification efforts, and is key to clearing the Dreamliner for first flight. During the test, the stabiliser is subjected to the aerodynamic loads that could be experienced by the aircraft during flight in the most severe circumstances.

Using a complex system of hydraulic jacks activated by specifically developed software, the test proves that the 787’s horizontal stabiliser is capable of withstanding 150 percent of the load it is expected to see in its lifetime.

Over the past three months, static tests in the laboratory at Pomigliano have successfully bent the 787 stabiliser up and down and asymmetrically at maximum load, simulating three critical design conditions for the stabiliser.

Designed and manufactured by Alenia Aeronautica at its Foggia facility, the horizontal stabiliser is made of two monolithic co-cured side pieces and one central element, is 20m long and, like the 787 fuselage and wings, is made of carbon fibre materials.

The co-cured box of the 787’s horizontal stabiliser is, to date, one of the biggest composite monolithic structures ever built for a commercial airplane; and is manufactured in a one-shot autoclave cure cycle starting from 27 uncured components.