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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/2762

Title: Fatigue damage assessment of high-usage in-service aircraft fuselage structure
Authors: Mosinyi, Bao Rasebolai
Keywords: Mechanical engineering;Airframes--Fatigue;Airplanes--Fuselage--Materials
Issue Date: 1-Apr-2008
Abstract: As the commercial and military aircraft fleets continue to age, there is a growing concern that multiple-site damage (MSD) can compromise structural integrity. Multiple site damage is the simultaneous occurrence of many small cracks at independent structural locations, and is the natural result of fatigue, corrosion, fretting and other possible damage mechanisms. These MSD cracks may linkup and form a fatigue lead crack of critical length. The presence of MSD also reduces the structure’s ability to withstand longer cracks. The objective of the current study is to assess, both experimentally and analytically, MSD formation and growth in the lap joint of curved panels removed from a retired aircraft. A Boeing 727-232 airplane owned and operated by Delta Air Lines, and retired at its design service goal, was selected for the study. Two panels removed from the left-hand side of the fuselage crown, near stringer 4L, were subjected to extended fatigue testing using the Full-Scale Aircraft Structural Test Evaluation and Research (FASTER) facility located at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center. The state of MSD was continuously assessed using several nondestructive inspection (NDI) methods. Damage to the load attachment points of the first panel resulted in termination of the fatigue test at 43,500 fatigue cycles, before cracks had developed in the lap joint. The fatigue test for the second panel was initially conducted under simulated in-service loading conditions for 120,000 cycles, and no cracks were detected in the skin of the panel test section. Artificial damage was then introduced into the panel at selected rivets in the critical (lower) rivet row, and the fatigue loads were increased. Visually detectable crack growth from the artificial notches was first seen after 133,000 cycles. The resulting lead crack grew along the lower rivet row, eventually forming an 11.8″ long unstable crack after 141,771 cycles, at which point the test was terminated Posttest fractograpic examinations of the crack surfaces were conducted, revealing the presence of subsurface MSD at the critical rivet row of the lap joint. Special attention was also given to the stringer clips that attach the fuselage frames to the stringers, since they also experienced cracking during the fatigue tests. The performance of the different conventional and emerging NDI methods was also assessed, and some of the emerging NDI methods were quite effective in detecting and measuring the length of subsurface cracks. Delta Air Lines conducted a separate destructive investigation on the state of damage along the right-hand side of the fuselage, near stringer 4R. A comparison of these two studies showed that the lap joint on the left hand-side of the aircraft, along stringer 4L, had better fatigue life than the one on the opposite side, along stringer 4R. The cause of the difference in fatigue life was investigated by close examination of the rivet installation qualities, and was found to be a result of better rivet installation along the lap joint at stringer 4L. Finite element models for both the skin and substructures of the panels were developed and geometrically nonlinear finite element analyses were conducted to verify the loading conditions and to determine near-field parameters governing MSD initiation and growth. Fatigue crack growth predictions based on the NASGRO equation were in good agreement with the experimental crack growth data for through-the-thickness cracks. For subsurface cracks, simulation of crack growth was found to correlate better with fractography data when an empirical crack growth model was used. The results of the study contribute to the understanding of the initiation and growth of MSD in the inner skin layer of a lap joint, and provide valuable data for the evaluation and validation of analytical methodologies to predict MSD initiation and growth and a better understanding on the effect of manufacturing quality on damage accumulation along the lap joint.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/2762
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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