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Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Wide Area Blunt Impact Damage to Composite Aircraft Structures


Due to their high performance and weight efficiency, carbon fiber composites are increasingly being used in aircraft primary structure applications. Exposed composite structures (e.g., fuselage lower body) are susceptible accidental impacts by ground service equipment (GSE). The very high mass (over 10,000 kg) of GSE impact can involve high energy (over 1000 J) and thus can induce significant internal damage. Furthermore, the large contact area potentially involved with GSE impact can create significant internal delamination and fiber failure without leaving exterior-visible signs that any damage has occurred. The objectives of the research described herein are to : (1) conduct experimental investigation into the composite aircraft damage caused by GSE impact, (2) examine the small-scale failure modes in focused, element- level studies, (3) establish a finite element modeling methodology involving detailed simulation capability that is validated via small-scale tests, and (4) apply these modeling capabilities to accurately predict full-scale structural behavior without adjustment (e.g., tuning) of modeling input parameters

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