Structural Health Monitoring

Carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRPs) are increasingly being used in aircraft. In order to make these aircraft even safer, the DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems is researching technologies that can provide information on the extent and location of damage. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) involves equipping the CFRP component with sensors that act like a nervous system. Here, the sensors are not glued to the surface, but have been integrated directly into the material, thereby reducing manufacturing costs.

If an aircraft sustains any damage due to an impact during loading, for example, in future there will be no need to call a technician to detect the damage. The structure provides information on the location of the damage and whether repairs are necessary at the push of a button. The structure surrounding the door was chosen because this is where damage is most likely to occur. DLR has developed a sensor network that is robust enough to survive the manufacturing process. Current research is now focusing on making the SHM system operationally ready for in-flight use under real conditions in order to turn the vision of a sensory aircraft into reality.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Peter Wierach · E-Mail: ·