Case Studies

Composite Aircraft

J.S. Held’s Inaugural Global Risk Report Examines Potential Business Risks & Opportunities in 2024

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The Situation

Heat damage in advanced composite aircraft can occur from many sources, such as fires or jet engine exhaust. If heat damage was suspected on an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the aircraft must be inspected to determine if the composite materials the aircraft is built from have been compromised. Currently, no methods exist to analyze the full range of heat damage that can occur to composite materials. Therefore, many expensive parts must be scrapped if there is any indication of potential heat damage, such as soot or paint discoloration. The technology developed during this project can detect low to moderate heat damage and help determine if a composite part exposed to heat is safe or needs to be repaired or scrapped. Implementing this technology will result in significant cost savings and decreased downtime on composite aircraft such as the F-35 JSF.

How We Advised

J.S. Held’s materials group partnered with university researchers and OEM manufacturers to apply fundamental scientific concepts in developing a technology for detecting low to moderate thermal damage in advanced high-temperature composite materials used to build an aircraft. We correlated measurable chemical changes to thermal damage that decreases the mechanical properties of the composite material. This process involved extensive testing, computer modeling, and experimental validation of computer models to develop two prototype thermal damage detection systems for the Air Force to evaluate.

Key Contact

Brian Flinn, PhD, PE
Vice President
Equipment Consulting Practice
+1 425 207 4358
[email protected]

Related Practice Areas

> Polymers, Composites & Ceramics Analysis & Testing
Our in-house laboratory supports our polymer and composite experts to provide comprehensive analyses of plastics, rubbers, adhesives, fibers, composites, and coatings from a wide variety of industries and applications.

> Equipment Consulting - Aerosciences
Our equipment experts evaluate a wide variety of aeroscience-related systems from aircraft components to multi-million-dollar satellites.

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