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Thread: Ultralight structural strength

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Question Ultralight structural strength

    How do you judge whether a particular ultralight is designed and manufactured to be structurally sound?

    Take this one, for example. Are there any accident statistics available? How would you know if it can hold together in turbulence (short of a thunderstorm)?

    I know ultralight pilots often take advantage of the smooth air in the early morning or late afternoon, but could their vehicles handle rough air, too? How rough?

  2. #2

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    You need to judge any ultralight design yourself or with the help of someone like an EAA Tech Counselor with ultralight experience.
    Ultralights are not required to meet any standard. Nor are accident statistics available, as far as I know.

    Gene Smith tests his ultralights himself by his methods. You could ask him what testing he has done.

  3. #3

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    I think most people avoid turbulence in an ultralight because of comfort, not because they worry about structural failure. Low wing loading and the sun heating the surface makes for a ride that is like a cork bobbing on the ocean surface during a hurricane. For sure a nice overcast day and no wind makes for good ultralight flying.

  4. #4

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    The more successful designs stand the test of time and get a good reputation. The bad ones get a reputation, too. But aside from early test failures or a few models with specific structural defects, inflight failure is extremely rare. The nature of ultralights being what it is, damage during hard landings or careless ground handling is most of what what you'll see. Also, the open structure of most ultralights makes inspection easy so most problems can be caught on the ground before any inflight problems happen.

  5. #5
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    inflight failure is extremely rare.
    Almost all of the cases I'm aware of are due to pilot stupidity or some exceptionally glaring error overlooked prior to a first flight by an inept or uneducated builder.

    Nor are accident statistics available, as far as I know.
    I have a partial list but the same issue exists with that list that exists with the National Weather Service's tracking of lightning fatalities: if it doesn't get reported in the news media, it's probably going to not get added to the database.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



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