Messier-Bugatti-Dowty’s choice to develop fiber reinforced composite main landing gear braces for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is unique – the world’s first use of structural composites in commercial aircraft landing gear. From the start, the landing gear design efforts focused on three primary areas: introduction of new materials to minimize landing gear weight, the use of environmentally acceptable alternatives to chromium and cadmium, and the increased use of corrosion resistant materials. The introduction of the composite braces helped to achieve each of these goals.
The incorporation of composite braces – designed using AEC’s 3D weaving and resin transfer molding technologies - offered significant weight savings compared to previous steel components. The use of 3D weaving specifically enabled Messier-Bugatti-Dowty to incorporate composite materials into the landing gear design; a traditional laminated composite would not be capable of handling the brace’s complex axial and shear loading conditions or resist bird impact or runway flying debris. By utilizing AEC’s composite products, which also offered high resistance to corrosion and improved fatigue life in comparison to metals, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty was able to improve reliability increasing the service time interval between overhauls of the main landing gear braces. After rigorous structural testing the composite braces were put through their ultimate test in 2010, when the first successful takeoff and landing of a commercial flight test aircraft took place.