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Grapevine: Boeing 787 carbon fiber scraps get repurposed for the gridiron

In this photo illustration, Russell Athletic ambassador and Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon wears a CarbonTek shoulder pad while inside a Boeing 787 Dreamliner carbon composite fuselage.

The man-made materials that Boeing uses to build composite 787 airframes soon also will be found on football players.

Excess carbon fiber used in making the Dreamliner will be turned into shoulder pads.

The planemaker is partnering with sportswear-maker Russell Brands LLC to use the leftover carbon materials in Russell Athletic's new CarbonTek-branded shoulder pad system.

The carbon filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and greater durability, the companies said last week.

Boeing routinely markets surplus factory materials to meet environmental and business goals. It said it sees opportunities, such as the collaboration with Russell, to repurpose carbon fiber as it increases the use of composites in its commercial airplanes.

Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787 Dreamliner, including the fuselage and wing, helping to make the Dreamliner 20 percent more fuel efficient than the airplanes it's replacing.

Boeing assembles the 787 in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. Its local campus also manufactures the jet's aft section from scratch using carbon composite materials.

High profile


Local US Airways passengers won't be far from home while zipping through the skies this month.

Charleston is the featured destination in the September issue of the carrier's inflight magazine

The spread is expected to showcase "the city's rich history, sumptuous dining, celebrated culture and distinctive venues," according to a written statement released last week.

The Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is hoping the high-altitude exposure in US Airways Magazine will help drum up more business from meetings and groups.

The publication said its audience totals 3.2 million passengers per issue, and that each copy averages 10.6 readers with a median age of 56 and a median household income of $115,000.

US Airways ran a previous in-depth profile of the Holy City in September 2005. Back then its inflight magazine was called Attache. The carrier has since merged with American Airlines and is one of the largest serving Charleston International.

New wheels


If you see a solar-powered golf cart taxi parked out front of the Sustainability Institute on Thursday, it's not an option to get around in downtown Charleston yet.

The three owners of Golden Sun Taxi - Matthew Coda, Jake Cotreau and Taylor Denny - haven't twisted the city's arm just yet to have them allowed on the peninsula, but they have vowed not to give up.

"This event will mark the first time one of our solar-powered golf carts is in downtown Charleston, and mark my words, it will not be the last," Coda said.

The sun-fired taxi will be a part of the Sustainability Institute's monthly ReThink Series. This month's topic will be "Rethink Your Commute."

Representatives from CARTA bus service, SCOOP CHS free electric car service and Gotcha Ride green-powered transportation, as well as bicycle advocates and others, including the golf cart taxi guys, will be on hand to discuss alternative ways to get around besides using gas-guzzling automobiles.

The meeting runs 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday at 113 Calhoun St. in downtown Charleston. Cost is $15 or free to members of the Sustainability Institute.

Hotel happenings


June was a good month to be in the hotel business in South Carolina, according to the latest monthly report by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Revenue per available room, a key indicator of demand for hotel rooms, reached $84 for the average hotel in South Carolina during the first month of summer. That's 10 percent more than June of last year, the report found.

Hotel performance figures aren't in yet for July and August, but Smith Travel Research predicts little to no growth in late summer and early fall for South Carolina accommodations. Occupancy rates from August through October are expected to hover around 60 percent. In June, the average hotel in the state was about 72 percent occupied, according to the report.

Also in the statewide tourism industry, the Governor's Conference on Tourism & Travel has set a date for its 50th annual event. Hoteliers and other top industry professionals across the state will gather Feb. 9-11 next year in Myrtle Beach at the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation Resort. Networking events, seminars and awards ceremonies will abound.

Military promotion


The newly anointed chief executive of a huge insurer that caters to the military has military ties to the Lowcountry.

Stuart Parker, the chief operating officer at San Antonio-based USAA, was named last week to succeed CEO Joe Robles when Robles retires in late February.

A former flight instructor, Parker flew the now-retired C-141 Starlifters while stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, including combat missions during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in the early to mid-1990s, according to a statement.

He joined USAA in 1998 as a financial planner and gradually worked his way up through the management ranks. He was chief financial officer from 2012 to 2014 for the insurer, which has more than 10 million members.

"The board has found a successor who demonstrates clear devotion to USAA's mission to serve the military and their families, deep appreciation and respect for our employees who represent the finest workforce in America, keen business and financial acumen, and unquestionable ethics," chairman Lester Lyles said in a written statement. "The board's decision was unanimous because Stuart meets all of those criteria and more."

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