01 September 2009
01 September 2009
Belite Aircraft has recently completed a series of static tests which demonstrated the structural integrity and durability of the aircraft’s carbon fibre wing, showing that it can withstand loads of up to 4G’s.
Conducted at the firm’s Wichita, Kansas facilities, the tests subjected a carbon fibre wing to progressively increasing G loads to verify that the wing exceeded the stated specifications of +3.8/-1.5Gs in static testing.
Manufacturers say that the wing, which weighs less than 14lbs, exceeded the stated limits, remaining intact under a 4G load of 1134lbs.
Belite Aircraft specialises in ultra-light aircraft which take advantage of Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103. Belite claim that the stringent weight limitations of this ruling have caused many craft to struggle to achieve the legal requirement, however their planes incorporate stronger, lighter carbon fibre technologies, instead of older steel, wood, or aluminium, thus reducing weight.
Speaking on the advantages of using carbon fibre, James Wiebe, CEO of Belite, said, “We wanted to demonstrate the strength carbon fibre can provide at light weights. It does not behave like a metal. When highly stressed, metal will begin to deform while still providing strength. Carbon fibre, on the other hand, will take loads nearly to 100% of strength without permanent deformation.
“We began the testing by conducting a negative G test, placing a 2G load on the wing of our Belite 254. We proceeded to conduct a positive G test by attaching the wings to another fuselage, inverting it. Under a load of 3Gs we noted delamination of specific ribs under compressive load, from the bottom of the rib through to the top of the rib. The Carbon Fibre spars were undamaged. Consequently we revised the rib design. After changes, the wing still weighed less than 14 pounds.
“We then loaded more than 1100 pounds onto the inverted wing panel, which was then supported by sawhorses. In fact, one of the sawhorse support points failed…but the wing remained intact.
“After reconfiguration of the test supports, testing was continued. The wing was loaded again, up to 1134 pounds. At this point, the deflection at the tip was measured at 2.5 inches. I think this testing more than verifies that the carbon fibre construction is not only significantly lighter, but can withstand the loads experienced in flight,” Wiebe concluded.
The carbon fibre Belite 254 is available in either kit or assembled form.
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