Opportunities for Systems Engineering to Contribute to Durability and Damage Tolerance of Hybrid Structures for Airframes

by Jean R. Gebman


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The structures making up airframes must be durable and damage tolerant, and the means of ensuring that they are have long been well defined for structures made of metal. But a host of new hybrid materials, some of which contain no metal, are now being used, and these can present new damage mechanisms that engineers must address. The Air Force has established a general approach to airframe durability and damage tolerance. The author examines that approach and considers ways it will need to adapt for the new materials. Given the variety of materials, processes, and end uses involved, the engineering effort will necessarily involve multiple specialties. In these circumstances, the tailoring process could benefit from the efforts of systems engineers. The report addresses both technical and programmatic concerns and identifies opportunities for materials and structural engineers to collaborate with systems engineers. Finally, it offers a framework for collaboration.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The General Air Force Approach to Fielding Durable, Damage-Tolerant Structures

  • Chapter Three

    Systems Engineering Tools That Can Help Tailor the General Approach to Hybrid Structures

  • Chapter Four

    Considerations the Systems-Engineering Approach Must Address

  • Chapter Five

    Opportunities for Collaboration Among Systems, Structural, and Materials Engineers

  • Chapter Six

    Framework for Strong Collaboration Among Systems, Structural, and Materials Engineers

  • Chapter Seven


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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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