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Fatigue of Aircraft Structures
The Journal of Institute of Aviation
1 Issue per year
Introduction of Fatigue Markers in Full Scale Fatigue Test of an Aircraft Structure
Air Force Institute of Technology participates in the service life assessment programme SEWST. The aim of this programme, funded by the Polish Ministry of Defense, is to modify the operation system of PZL-130 "Orlik" TC-II turbo propelled trainer aircraft. The structural part of the programme is focused on the Full Scale Fatigue Test of the whole airframe to be conducted at the VZLU in the Czech Republic. The load spectrum for the test was developed by the AFIT based on the flight test results. The basic load block represents 200 simulated flight hours and consists of 194 flights showing different levels of severity.
At the end of the Full Scale Fatigue Test a teardown inspection is planned during which it would be most beneficial to be able to determine crack propagation rate by means of a crack surface inspection. Markers are usually visible on most fatigue crack surfaces, however they occur randomly therefore it is almost impossible to conclude anything about the crack history. Since the preliminary load block consisted of separate flights (flight loads together with landing and taxing loads) showing significantly different levels of severity, the easiest way to modify the load block was to change the order of flights within the block. Hence a pilot programme was started at the AFIT which was focused on the determination of the influence of flight sequence on crack appearance. Several load blocks were determined using various techniques of rearranging the order of flights within the preliminary load spectrum.
This approach ensured the preservation of the initial severity of the load block and simultaneously enabled a significant increase in the probability of the markers occurrence introducing neither artificial underloads nor overloads that would most probably affect the crack propagation rate.
Fatigue crack surfaces were inspected using Scanning Electron Microscope. As a result of the investigations a series of images were obtained showing the specimen microstructure with visible markers arranged in the desired sequences. Based on the obtained pictures the most promising load block arrangements were chosen for the Full Scale Fatigue Test.