Aircraft Structural Integrity
Many aircraft fleets around the world are being operated beyond their intended service life span and in environments more severe than their airframes were designed to accommodate conditions that place increased demands on structural reliability requirements for aging military and commercial aircraft.
Structural Design and Analysis
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) performs design and analysis evaluations, including investigations often associated with aircraft structural modification and life extension programs, for a variety of aircraft systems. The Institute works with aircraft manufacturers and modification facilities to provide specialized engineering expertise in design, analysis, and testing. Services include:
Material Property Evaluation
Extensive laboratory facilities are maintained for measurement of mechanical and physical properties for all types of structural materials. SwRI capabilities include:
Tests are often performed under controlled environmental conditions of temperature, humidity, vacuum, high pressure, and immersion in chemically controlled media. Specialized testing includes programmed spectrum loading, coupled thermal and mechanical loading, variable strain rates, and multi-axial stress conditions. Other physical measurements are made as prescribed by ASTM standards. Specialized test equipment can be designed and built to meet unique test requirements.
Component and Full-Scale Testing
Verification testing is often required as part of aircraft design and modification programs. SwRI has extensive laboratory facilities for performing static, dynamic, and fatigue tests on components, sub-assemblies, and full-scale test articles. Typical tests include:
Tests are usually specialized, and SwRI routinely designs and fabricates all mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical components of test systems. Extensive instrumentation is provided for load and deflection measurements, strain gaging, crack growth monitoring, and data telemetry.
The Institute's engineering and technical staff develops test plans tailored to client needs and provides test setups and instrumentation, test monitoring, data reduction and analysis, and post-test documentation.
Aircraft Structural Life Management
Aircraft structural life management requires the integration of design and analysis, materials behavior, structural testing, and knowledge of aircraft usage. SwRI has experience in usage monitoring of military and commercial aircraft to provide data for structural life assessments. These flight recording programs define aircraft maneuver and stress spectra for fatigue analysis and fracture mechanics-based damage tolerance assessments of critical structures.