Structural Integrity and Aging-Related Issues of Helicopters
BOEING CO MESA AZ
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The issues of structural integrity for rotary-wing aircraft are somewhat different from those of fixed-wing aircraft. In helicopters, the dynamic rotor components are safe-life designs and are replaced at the end of their service lives Thus airworthiness concerns of structural integrity for helicopters are limited but still pose great challenges in adjusting to changing missions. Structural integrity issues for helicopters are in the airframe, equipment and avionics, and retention hardware for non-airframe related structures. Most of the rotary-wing aircraft in the U.S. Armys inventory are several decades old, and are required to continue in service even longer, Table 1 Ref. 1. They were designed for missions that have changed and with equipment that have been overtaken by technological advances. Thus, the primary issues for aging military helicopters have been to assure structural integrity while enhancing performance with more capable dynamic components and technically advanced equipment.