BRAZILIAN AIR FORCE AIRCRAFT STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY PROGRAM: AN OVERVIEW. doi: 10.5028/jatm.2009.0101107111
Keywords:Fatigue, Damage tolerance, Structure, Service life.
AbstractThis paper presents an overview of the activities developed by the Structural Integrity Group at the Institute of Aeronautics and Space - IAE, Brazil, as well as the status of ongoing work related to the life extension program for aircraft operated by the Brazilian Air Force BAF. The first BAF-operated airplane to undergo a DTA-based life extension was the F-5 fighter, in the mid 1990s. From 1998 to 2001, BAF worked on a life extension project for the BAF AT- 26 Xavante trainer. All analysis and tests were performed at IAE. The fatigue critical locations (FCLs) were presumed based upon structural design and maintenance data and also from exchange of technical information with other users of the airplane around the world. Following that work, BAF started in 2002 the extension of the operational life of the BAF T-25 “Universal”. The T-25 is the basic training airplane used by AFA - The Brazilian Air Force Academy. This airplane was also designed under the “safe-life” concept. As the T-25 fleet approached its service life limit, the Brazilian Air Force was questioning whether it could be kept in flight safely. The answer came through an extensive Damage Tolerance Analysis (DTA) program, briefly described in this paper. The current work on aircraft structural integrity is being performed for the BAF F-5 E/F that underwent an avionics and weapons system upgrade. Along with the increase in weight, new configurations and mission profiles were established. Again, a DTA program was proposed to be carried out in order to establish the reliability of the upgraded F-5 fleet. As a result of all the work described, the BAF has not reported any accident due to structural failure on aircraft submitted to Damage Tolerance Analysis.
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