Next time you find yourself feeling just a wee bit uneasy as you sit in a commercial airliner going bounce, bounce, bounce through heavy turbulence, try to keep this photo in mind. It demonstrates that the planes we fly are engineered to withstand conditions far more extreme than anything they're likely to see in regular service.
The aircraft shown here is a prototype version of the new Boeing 787 as it underwent a wing-bend test over the weekend. Boeing VP of commercial airplane marketing Randy Tinseth blogged about the test:
It was an exciting day in Everett on Sunday as we took the wings on the 787 static test article to their “ultimate load” condition - bending them up by approximately 25 feet (7.62 meters).
The test represents 150% of the most extreme load any Dreamliner is expected to ever see in service, and it’s meant to ensure that we have appropriate design margin to account for unexpected events.
While the test only lasted a short period of time, as the team slowly applied the loads necessary, it took years to get to this point - and the expertise of hundreds of people. An airplane is an amazing creation, with countless design decisions that all have to come together in a machine that flies safely and reliably.
That just never gets old, if you know what I mean.
The test team is now taking a detailed look at all of the data gathered during the test. There are thousands of data points that need to be correlated to the expectations we had going into the test. That effort will take several weeks.
It really is remarkable how much stress these wings are designed to withstand. To truly appreciate it, click the image above to explore the eye-popping, wing-bending, full-size enlargement.
But to see the reverse -- what happens when a wing is pushed to failure -- watch this amazing-yet-harrowing video of a Boeing 777 wing test in 1995, in which the wing failed at 154 percent of max extreme load:Photo: Boeing