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Proceedings Paper

In situ monitoring of the integrity of bonded repair patches on aircraft and civil infrastructures
Author(s): Amrita Kumar; Dennis Roach; Shawn Beard; Xinlin Qing; Robert Hannum
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Paper Abstract

Monitoring the continued health of aircraft subsystems and identifying problems before they affect airworthiness has been a long-term goal of the aviation industry. Because in-service conditions and failure modes experienced by structures are generally complex and unknown, conservative calendar-based or usage-based scheduled maintenance practices are overly time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive. Metal structures such as helicopters and other transportation systems are likely to develop fatigue cracks under cyclic loads and corrosive service environments. Early detection of cracks is a key element to prevent catastrophic failure and prolong structural life. Furthermore, as structures age, maintenance service frequency and costs increase while performance and availability decrease. Current non-destructive inspection (NDI) techniques that can potentially be used for this purpose typically involve complex, time-intensive procedures, which are labor-intensive and expensive. Most techniques require access to the damaged area on at least one side, and sometimes on both sides. This can be very difficult for monitoring of certain inaccessible regions. In those cases, inspection may require removal of access panels or even structural disassembly. Once access has been obtained, automated inspection techniques likely will not be practical due to the bulk of the required equipment. Results obtained from these techniques may also be sensitive to the sweep speed, tool orientation, and downward pressure. This can be especially problematic for hand-held inspection tools where none of these parameters is mechanically controlled. As a result, data can vary drastically from one inspection to the next, from one technician to the next, and even from one sweep to the next. Structural health monitoring (SHM) offers the promise of a paradigm shift from schedule-driven maintenance to condition-based maintenance (CBM) of assets. Sensors embedded permanently in aircraft safety critical structures that can monitor damage can provide for improved reliability and streamlining of aircraft maintenance. Early detection of damage such as fatigue crack initiation can improve personnel safety and prolong service life. This paper presents the testing of an acousto-ultrasonic piezoelectric sensor based structural health monitoring system for real-time monitoring of fatigue cracks and disbonds in bonded repairs. The system utilizes a network of distributed miniature piezoelectric sensors/actuators embedded on a thin dielectric carrier film, to query, monitor and evaluate the condition of a structure. The sensor layers are extremely flexible and can be integrated with any type of metal or composite structure. Diagnostic signals obtained from a structure during structural monitoring are processed by a portable diagnostic unit. With appropriate diagnostic software, the signals can be analyzed to ascertain the integrity of the structure being monitored. Details on the system, its integration and examples of detection of fatigue crack and disbond growth and quantification for bonded repairs will be presented here.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 March 2006
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6179, Advanced Sensor Technologies for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring II, 61790M (30 March 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.657681
Show Author Affiliations
Amrita Kumar, Acellent Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Dennis Roach, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Shawn Beard, Acellent Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Xinlin Qing, Acellent Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Robert Hannum, Acellent Technologies, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6179:
Advanced Sensor Technologies for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring II
Norbert Meyendorf; George Y. Baaklini; Bernd Michel, Editor(s)

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