Opportunities for Polymeric-Based Composite Applications for Transport Aircraft

Conference paper


Airframes operate in a variety of discreet threat environments. Composite airframes have different capabilities than metallics; capabilities that enhance air vehicle performance. However, composites also have increased sensitivity to a variety of impact threats. These threats include bird strike, hail, runway debris, tool drop, tire rupture, and incidental contact with ground vehicles and panels lost in-flight. Airframe certification is focused on these threats in addition to the legacy structural requirements. The following points will be emphasized: (1) Aircraft operate in common threat environments with the potential to compromise the Durability (economic) and Damage Tolerance (safety) and in-service safety management of the air vehicle. (2) Laminate sizing techniques using “Damage Thresholds” are evolving to address these sensitivities. Damage Thresholds should be the bases for the dimensioning of laminates exposed to impact threats (the damage thresholds will depend on the nature of the threat, FOD is different than hail ice, than bird strike, than rubber puck for tire damage, etc.). The Damage Threshold concept offers failure-criteria sensitive to matrix-dominated toughness limitations—damage tolerance. (3) The need for enhanced toughness materials, design features, and processing technologies is limiting weight optimization for new airframes. (4) As new commercial airframes convert to polymeric based composite technology there is an increasing interest in the replacement of cast metallic parts with molded discontinuous parts and components. Potential weight savings, inconsistent quality, and the corrosion incompatibility of cast metallics with graphite laminates are creating this application interest. (5) Transition of new or enhanced polymeric technologies to industrial airframe products is challenging—Requiring Cooperative Development between the technology provider, a Tier 3 (three) supplier (typically) and the OEM or Prime. In the “global supply chain” the lower Tier suppliers are expected to address the complexities outlined above.


Terminal Velocity Face Sheet Carbon Fiber Reinforce Plastic Damage Tolerance Foreign Object Damage 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.JCH Consultants, Inc.DaytonUSA

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