Tubes + balls = damage

It’s been another busy work at the ATSC!

The fully assembled plane!The wings are now on the aeroplane (Yay!!)…… but we’re now taken them back off! (Boo!)

The client visited our workshop last Friday to put some damage into the structure of the plane – this is all part of the tests we’re carrying out and the reason that it’s done is to investigate the ‘Damage Tolerance’ of the aeroplane.  If the aeroplane is hit during operation or tools are dropped onto it during servicing it may cause damage to the composite structure. This damage may be invisible to the naked eye but may have caused disbonds in the layers of composite. If the airframe is capable of still meeting the fatigue test with these damages introduced at the start of the test it is assumed that it will be good whilst in service. During the tests we will monitor the points where the damage has been applied to see if the surface/structure shows any sign of the damage increasing.

Drop testingTo create the damage a steel ball is dropped from a known height onto the surface of the aeroplane. If we know the height, weight, and the acceleration due to gravity (g) we know the potential energy (PE) the ball has – physics tells us this is mass x g x height. The formula gives us the PE in Joules and we make the assumption that all of that energy is transferred into the structure of the aeroplane. The impacts were carried out at three different energies so the ball has been dropped from three different heights via three different tubes cut to the appropriate lengths.

On completion of the impact damage routine we then assembled the wings onto the fuselage however the client then decided that some additional damage should be applied to the wing spar so the aeroplane is currently being disassembled.  Hopefully we can re-assemble it in the next few days and then do The Big Flip next week (we’ll keep you posted!).

In other news we’ve maintained our UKAS accreditation for flexible scope testing following our annual surveillance visit! This is an independent assessment of our testing and having this accreditation means that any customer can be sure of our test methods, and that the data that we supply back to them is traceable to an internationally used system of measurement (The SI system)  Well done team!

Photos from top: The aeroplane with wings attached!,  one of the wings with marks of where the damage has been applied (the damage is often invisible to the naked eye).

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