Innovative Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) System Capable of Detecting, Localizing, and Characterizing Damage in Composite Aircraft Structures

Period of Performance: 10/17/2012 - 04/17/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Texas Research Institute Austin, Inc.
9063 Bee Caves Road Array
Austin, TX 78733
Principal Investigator


Some success has been achieved with SHM of with simplified composite aircraft structures in laboratories. However, more complex structures with thickness variations, stiffeners, bonded joints; fasteners etc have been less successful. This is becoming a very serious issue, as the new H53-K uses large amounts of composites. Texas Research Institute Austin, Inc. (TRI/Austin) has a flight proven SHM system, the Large Area Health Monitoring Processor (LAHMP). It is a complete, miniaturized, acoustic emission system with built in, patented algorithms to determine fitness for service and damage location based on AE data. These algorithms were developed from data collected during laboratory and full scale fatigue, and flight proven, using real, fixed wing military aircraft composite structures. LAHMP has passed MIL-STD s 810, 461 and 704. The research team of TRI/Austin, Sikorsky and University of South Carolina proposes NAVAIR fund development of an even smaller, lighter, more rugged version of LAHMP for helicopter service. This system will use Acoustic Emission (AE) sensors to passively, continuously monitor composite structure health. The proposed work includes expanding prior work by our research team on 1) ballistic damage detection and assessment and 2) defect typing. All work will be performed on real composite structures from military aircraft.