As Boeing delivers the First 787 Dreamliner, Hexcel Reveals Some of Its Composite Innovations for the Aircraft

Boeing has today delivered the first 787 Dreamliner, an aircraft on which Hexcel’s composite materials are used extensively to deliver superior strength, stiffness and weight-savings. The first delivery was made to ANA, one of the world’s leading airlines that is redefining air travel. The 787 Dreamliner will help take that experience to a new level. 

The 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial transport aircraft designed with advanced composite materials for the wing, fuselage and empennage primary structure. Hexcel’s carbon fiber, structural prepregs, reinforcing fabrics, honeycomb core and engineered parts are used in many applications throughout the 787, particularly in the plane’s engines and nacelles, interiors and secondary structures. Hexcel estimates revenue on the 787 to be between $1.3 and $1.6 million per airplane – depending on the engine selection.

A particular innovation from Hexcel used to great effect on the 787 Dreamliner is HexMC®, a new product form of composite material which is derived from established aerospace industry high strength carbon fiber/epoxy tape. HexMC® offers low density, with good strength and stiffness properties, enabling complex shapes that would previously have had to be machined or forged from metal to be manufactured in composites in cost-effective series production. HexMC® parts provide weight savings that are comparable to those achieved with aerospace carbon/epoxy prepregs.

Hundreds of HexMC® parts have been certified for the 787 Dreamliner including Window Frames, Brackets, Fittings, Gussets, Clips/Cleats, Intercostals and Pans. The HexMC® window frame has a significant impact on two key characteristics of the Dreamliner. The new low density, high strength composite frame results in almost a 50 percent weight saving over a traditional aluminum frame. In addition, the frame offers superior damage tolerance.

The 787 Dreamliner is an exceptionally quiet aircraft, with both engine options benefitting from Hexcel’s Acousti-Cap® technology in the nacelle inner barrel acoustic treatment. Acousti-Cap® consists of a permeable cap material embedded into a non-metallic honeycomb to create an acoustic septum. Customers specify the flow resistance characteristics, overall core thickness, number of caps in a cell and insertion depth. The result is a product tuned to their acoustic requirements without incurring a structural weight penalty.

Hexcel is proud to be flying on the 787 as it heralds a new age of commercial transport aircraft and congratulates Boeing for bringing this aircraft to the world.