Repair of Helicopter Composite Structure: Techniques and Substantiations,
AEROSPATIALE MARIGNANE (FRANCE) DIV HELICOPTERES
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The advantages of composite materials are now well known and have been widely demonstrated lighter weight, lower cost, shorter manufacturing cycles, damage tolerance, etc. As a result, composite materials are increasingly used in helicopters. Helicopter designs have made extensive use of composites for over twenty years. Composite rotor blades date from 1970. More recently, major programs have been undertaken to produce the future generation of helicopters with a totally composite fuselage. The increasing number of composite items in the aircraft structure raises the problem of damage and repair. This concern is further justified by the relatively high damage probability of a helicopter that may be operated in severe environmental conditions, low-level hover or N.O.E. flight. The repair philosophy engages the responsibility of the aircraft manufacturer as well as the operator. The manufacturer must develop and substantiate repair methods that are as simple as possible. The operator must be equipped with suitable inspection and repair facilities. These repairs must ensure an adequate safety level for the remaining helicopters service life. They must be suitable for the nature of the damage and the type of part involved. They must be as easy as possible to implement and require minimal special tools and expertise, and the repair cost must remain well below the price of new replacement parts.