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Proceedings Paper

Assessing inspection sensitivity as it relates to damage tolerance in composite rotor hubs
Author(s): Dennis P. Roach; Kirk Rackow
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Paper Abstract

Increasing niche applications, growing international markets, and the emergence of advanced rotorcraft technology are expected to greatly increase the population of helicopters over the next decade. In terms of fuselage fatigue, helicopters show similar trends as fixed-wing aircraft. The highly unsteady loads experienced by rotating wings not only directly affect components in the dynamic systems but are also transferred to the fixed airframe structure. Expanded use of rotorcraft has focused attention on the use of new materials and the optimization of maintenance practices. The FAA's Airworthiness Assurance Center (AANC) at Sandia National Labs has joined with Bell Helicopter andother agencies in the rotorcraft industry to evaluate nondestructive inspection (NDI) capabilities in light of the damage tolerance of assorted rotorcraft structure components. Currently, the program's emphasis is on composite rotor hubs. The rotorcraft industry is constantly evaluating new types of lightweight composite materials that not only enhance the safety and reliability of rotor components but also improve performance and extended operating life as well. Composite rotor hubs have led to the use of bearingless rotor systems that are less complex and require less maintenance than their predecessors. The test facility described in this paper allows the structural stability and damage tolerance of composite hubs to be evaluated using realistic flight load spectrums of centrifugal force and bending loads. NDI was integrated into the life-cycle fatigue tests in order to evaluate flaw detection sensitivity simultaneously wiht residual strength and general rotor hub peformance. This paper will describe the evolving use of damage tolerance analysis (DTA) to direct and improve rotorcraft maintenance along with the related use of nondestructive inspections to manage helicopter safety. OVeralll, the data from this project will provide information to improve the producibility, inspectability, serviceability, and cost effectively of rotorcraft components.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 August 2001
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4336, Nondestructive Evaluation of Materials and Composites V, (3 August 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.435559
Show Author Affiliations
Dennis P. Roach, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Kirk Rackow, Sandia National Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4336:
Nondestructive Evaluation of Materials and Composites V
George Y. Baaklini; Eric S. Boltz; Steven M. Shepard; Peter J. Shull, Editor(s)

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