Nondestructive inspection of bonded composite doublers for aircraft
Nondestructive Evaluation of Aging Aircraft, Airports, and Aerospace Hardware
ow1 O C T O 3 One of the major thrusts established under the FAA's National Aging Aircraft Research Program is to foster new technologies associated with civil aircraft maintenance. Recent DOD and other government developments in the use of bonded composite doublers on metal structures has supported the need for research and validation of such doubler applications on U.S. certificated airplanes. Composite doubler technology is rapidly maturing and shows promise of cost savings on aging
... s on aging aircraft. While there have been numerous studies and military aircraft installations of composite doublers, the technology has not been certified for use on commercial aircraft. Before the use of composite doublers can be accepted by the civil aviation industry, it is imperative that methods be developed which can quickly and reliably assess the integrity of the doubler. In this study, a specific composite application was chosen on an L-1 01 1 aircraft in order to focus the tasks on application and operation issues. Primary among inspection requirements for these doublers is the identification of disbonds, between the composite laminate and aluminum parent material, and delaminations in the composite laminate. Surveillance of cracks or corrosion in the parent aluminum material beneath the doubler is also a concern. No single nondestructive inspection (NDI) method can inspect for every flaw type, therefore it is important to be aware of available NDI techniques and to properly address their capabilities and limitations. This paper reports on a series of NDI tests which have been conducted on laboratory test structures and on a fuselage section cut from a retired L-I011 aircraft. Specific challenges, unique to bonded composite doubler applications, will be highlighted. In order to quickly integrate this technology into existing aircraft maintenance depots, the use of conventional NDI, ultrasonics, X-ray, and eddy current, is stressed. The application of these NDI techniques to composite doublers and the results from test specimens, which were loaded to provide a changing flaw profile, are presented in this paper. The development of appropriate inspection calibration standards will also be discussed.