Experimental and modeling study of the effect of corrosion pitting on fatigue failure locations in aircraft components

Crawford, Bruce R.; Loader, Chris; Qianchu Liu; Harrison, Timothy J.; Sharp, P. Khan; Härkegård, Gunnar
March 2014
Advanced Materials Research;2014, Issue 891-892, p236
Academic Journal
It is well established that corrosion pits reduce the fatigue life and structural integrity of aluminum alloy aircraft components. A great deal of research has been conducted in this area in the last 20 years. This problem is not unique to aluminum alloys or aircraft however. Similar problems have been observed in the steel components of other engineered structures such as steel pipelines and steam turbine blades. However the effect of pitting corrosion on the probable location of fatigue failures has been overlooked. This is problematic as corrosion pits have caused fatigue failures in locations and components where they were unexpected, such as the trailing edge flap lug of the F/A-18 fighter aircraft. DSTO have called this problem 'Corrosion Criticality'. This paper reports the development of Monte-Carlo models of how pitting corrosion affects the location of fatigue failures in two fatigue specimen geometries that have different stress concentration factors (kt). These specimens are a low-kt fatigue life specimen and a high-kt fatigue life specimen with three holes arranged along its centerline. The modeling results for the low-kt specimen are then compared with experimental results for that specimen. The low-kt model produces good estimates of fatigue life and of the probability of fatigue failure at any given location in the specimen's gauge section. The process that will be followed to develop the high-kt model is outlined. The paper includes a discussion of using the Corrosion Criticality models to reduce the cost of corrosion maintenance by (i) identifying areas in which corrosion inspections are critical and (ii) identify aircraft components for which pitting corrosion will not be a threat to airworthiness during the life of an aircraft.


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