The Windward Performance workshop has completed fabrication on all of the major carbon components of the Perlan 2 glider. All these parts are now sitting in the assembly jigs or stored on shelves, awaiting assembly. This is a good opportunity to have a look around the workshop, camera in hand, and get a few photos of the parts laid out. We can also see some of the other aircraft under construction at the same time.
The main spars have completed their three cycles in the oven and are now ready for further processing:
The main wing spars are being built in the workshop right now. This is a long process because of the hundreds of layers of carbon required. The “uni” or unidirectional carbon fibres are prepared in stacks of 5 layers before being interleaved with conventional carbon cloth that has fibres running in two directions. Then we alternate those directions to zero and forty-five degree alternates.
Einar Enevoldson and Dr. Elizabeth Austin after their keynote presentation, Perlan Projekt, Mit Dem Segelflugzeug in die Stratosphäre , at the Deutcher Aero Club’s Segelfigertag in 2002, Berlin, Germany.
After Einar & Elizabeth’s presentation, Dr. Joach Kuettner gave a memorable talk about his life and the sport of gliding.
Now that the fuselage pressure test has been run successfully, the focus moves to constructing the actual wings. We won’t be doing a destructive test on the wings, so the ones we are building now are the ones that are going to fly to 90,000 feet. (Or at least, they will fly a lot higher than the Perlan 1 glider flew.)
The mold for the main spars is huge: nearly 40 feet (12m) long. Remember this is only the main wing panels and doesn’t include the wingtips – they have separate molds.
The Perlan fuselage test article is currently sitting outdoors, awaiting its next torture test. While it waits, it is watching the lenticular clouds forming overhead…
The destructive pressure test has been completed and we hit our engineering numbers almost perfectly.
This test was testing for the worst possible conditions expected in flight. 2000 pounds of lead were loaded onto the seats to simulate the weight of the pilots multiplied by 6 Gs of acceleration. Then the pressure was increased to the maximum expected in flight: the fuselage held the strain. Then the pressure was increased to the safety blowoff-valve pressure: it still held.
The first pressure testing has begun on the fuselage test article. This test was just checking that the hatch seals work and there are no leaks. Now that we have done this test, the whole test rig will be moved into the safety cell. In the next few tests, big chunks might fly off so we need to have them contained. The perfect container to contain the debris is a shipping container.
Some more parts have arrived – the photo above is the main wheel complete with its hydraulic disc brake.