The world’s longest nonstop air route from Singapore to New York is expected to land Friday, Oct. 12, and it will have traveled around 10,000 miles for about 19 hours. Virginia Tech engineer Xiaowei Yue says lighter materials and precision assembly help make these ultra-long-range commercial flights possible.
He also points out that although there are several challenges involved, technological breakthrough “will make even longer flights available for the market.”
“Ultra-long-range commercial flights bring novel engineering challenges. First, ultra-long range commercial means it requires the ultra-high precision assembly and quality control of the aircraft. Second, the fuselages are made of new composite materials instead of conventional aluminum designs, which realizes about 20 percent weight savings. It improves fuel economy of ultra-long range flights. Also, because composite materials have complex nonlinear properties, it raises new engineering challenges for ultra-high precision assembly process of composite fuselages.”
“Ultra-long range flights will bring challenges for ultra-high precision assembly and quality control, and real-time data analytics of flying status. It will bring new research and engineering opportunities. Technological breakthrough in this research domain will make even longer flights available for the market.”
Xiaowei Yue is an assistant professor in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He has been working in the ultra-high precision predictive assembly and quality control of composite fuselage for years and has developed methodologies to solve the challenges that come with them.
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