An Approach to Evaluate Precision and Inter-Laboratory Variability of Flammability Test Methods for Aerospace Materials 2005-01-3000
Materials selection for spacecraft is based on conventional flammability or ignition sensitivity acceptance tests. Current procedures for determining the inter-laboratory repeatability and reproducibility of aerospace materials flammability tests are not considering the dependence of data variability on test conditions and consequently attempts to characterize the precision of these methods were not successful. The inter-laboratory data variability is determined with tests conducted under arbitrary conditions, which consequently may not provide sufficient information to enable adequate determination of a method’s precision. This paper evaluates the feasibility of a method used to evaluate the repeatability and reproducibility of a test method by conducting a limited number of tests following a rigorous statistical approach. For evaluating the precision of NASA’s flammability test methods, the protocol recommended includes selecting critical parameters and determining the 50% failure point by considering the specific failure criteria of each method using the critical parameter as a variable. Upon performing inter-laboratory round robin testing using this approach, the laboratories’ performance could be evaluated by comparing the repeatability of the 50% failure point and/or the repeatability of critical conditions where the probabilities of passing and failing are unity, i.e., the transition zone repeatability. When a sufficient amount of data has been acquired with this method, an adequate estimation of precision of aerospace materials flammability test methods will be possible.