Navigation path

Decrease textIncrease textDividerPrint versionRSSDivider

Improved Material Exploitation of a Safe Design of Composite Airframe Structures by Accurate Simulation of Collapse


European aircraft industry demands a reduction in development and operating costs, by 20% and 50% in the short and long term respectively. COCOMAT will contribute to this aim by reducing the structural weight by expanding the limits of safe design; it will exploit considerable reserves in primary fibre composite fuselage structures by an accurate and reliable simulation of collapse. Collapse is specified by that point of the load-displacement curve where a sharp decrease occurs, thus limiting the load-carrying capacity.

Project objectives

The main objective of COCOMAT is to accomplish the large step from the current to a future design scenario of stringer-stiffened composite panels. The current industrial design scenario is illustrated in a typical load-shortening curve, which is divided into three different regions. Region I covers loads allowed under operating flight conditions and is bounded above by the limit load; region II is the safety region and extends up to the ultimate load; region III comprises the forbidden area, which reaches up to collapse. There is still a large unused structural reserve capacity between the current ultimate load and collapse. In a future design scenario like the one this project aspires to realise, the ultimate load limit is shifted as close as possible towards collapse. Another main difference to the current design scenario is that the onset of degradation is moved from the forbidden region III to the safety region II due to a reliable simulation of collapse.

Description of the work

To reach this main objective, the project will provide improved slow and fast simulation tools, experimental databases and design guidelines for stiffened panels, which take skin stringer separation and material degradation into account. The experimental database is indispensable for verification of the analytically developed degradation models, which will be implemented into the new tools, and for the validation of these tools as well. Reliable fast tools will allow for an economic design process, whereas very accurate but unavoidably slow tools are required for the final certification. The partners are co-operating in the following six technical Work Packages:

  • Benchmarking on collapse analysis of undamaged and damaged panels with existing tools: knowledge of the partners is compared and the deficiencies of existing software are identified.
  • Material characterisation, degradation investigation and design of panels for static and cyclic tests: material properties are characterised, degradation models are developed and test panels are designed to the requirements of the research in order to overcome deficiencies.
  • Development of improved simulation procedures for collapse: slow certification and fast design tools are developed and validated by the tests.
  • Manufacture, inspection and testing by static and cyclic loading of undamaged panels: the experimental database is extended by testing undamaged panels.
  • Manufacture, inspection and testing by static and cyclic loading of pre-damaged panels: the experimental database is extended by testing pre-damaged panels.
  • Design guidelines and industrial validation: all project results are assembled and final design guidelines derived. The tools are validated by the industry.

Industry brings experience of design and manufacture of real shells; research contributes knowledge on testing and development of simulation tools.

Expected results

The project results will comprise a substantially extended database on material properties and on the collapse of undamaged and pre-damaged statically and cyclically loaded structures, degradation models, improved slow and fast computation tools for statically loaded structures, as well as design guidelines. Although this project is orientated towards an application in fuselage structures, the results will be transferable to other airframe structures as well.