Enhanced Composite Integrity through Structural Health Monitoring

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Engineering, Mechanical Engineering


This paper discusses the topic of how the integrity of safety-critical structural composites can be enhanced by the use of structural health monitoring (SHM) techniques. The paper starts with a presentation of how the certification of flight-critical composite structures can be achieved within the framework of civil aviation safety authority requirements. Typical composites damage mechanisms, which make this process substantially different from that for metallic materials are discussed. The opportunities presented by the use of SHM techniques in future civil aircraft developments are explained. The paper then focuses on active SHM with piezoelectric wafer active sensors (PWAS). After reviewing the PWAS-based SHM options, the paper follows with a discussion of the specifics of guided wave propagation in composites and PWAS-tuning effects. The paper presents a number of experimental results for damage detection in simple flat unidirectional and quasi-isotropic composite specimens. Calibrated through holes of increasing diameter and impact damage of various energies and velocities are considered. The paper ends with conclusions and suggestions for further work.