About Carbon Composite Repairs
Carbon fibre laminates are constructed from multiple layers of stiff carbon fibres, set in a matrix of epoxy resin that is then cured in a high-pressure oven. They provide excellent strength and rigidity for little weight, making them particularly useful in aircraft design.
However the laminates are quite brittle which makes them rather susceptible to impact damage. The spars and ribs on hang gliders can easily crack or break on a rough landing, requiring a proper repair.
Can I do it myself?
Most carbon repairs involve cleaning and then applying a patch of reinforcement to the cracked or broken area. Some pilots may have performed similar repairs to car bodywork using glass-fibre kits and may be tempted to try and fix the carbon part themselves.
At Avian we have been working with carbon fibre for many years and have sometimes had to re-repair some very dodgy DIY fixes. We would always recommend that pilots get a professional repair instead, for several reasons.
The first, obviously, is safety. Composite laminates are severely weakened by cracks, even those that are barely visible, and a good repair is vital for safety. At Avian we use aviation-quality materials (the same as those used to construct the glider) and techniques (vacuum bagging for instance) to ensure a well consolidated join with optimal strength. Without this equipment any DIY repair will most likely come out weaker and with a lower quality finish.
The second is that many parts must be accurately measured and aligned to preserve the flight performance of the glider. For instance, each rib has its incidence set by hand at the factory as part of the glider’s setup. Preserving this state of trim requires careful measurement with the right equipment.
Thirdly, a good repair should mean that the damage has a minimal effect on the resale value of your glider. Rigid wing hang gliders are a significant investment for any pilot, and a poor repair can severely affect the glider’s value should you want to sell it.
Finally, our repairs look nice, which is adds to the peace of mind you get from having a properly repaired wing!