Composite Applications to Aircraft Structures Now and in the Future 790146
The primary force behind composite materials development for aircraft applications was to achieve weight savings in weight-critical regions. In today's aircraft technology, graphite/epoxy composites are fulfilling this need and are being used as structural materials in the form of cross-plied fiber-reinforced laminates for conventional monolithic wing/empennage skins and substructure, or as face sheets on honeycomb-type structure. All metal components have been replaced by composite structure on aircraft such as the B-1, F-18, and AV-8B. Weight/cost savings were demonstrated for the B-1 aircraft in which not only weight savings, but also cost competitiveness were the goals. The next-generation aircraft will incorporate composites in a significantly larger proportion of the airframe structure to exploit more fully all advantageous characteristics of advanced composite structure (strength, stiffness, tailorability, weight, and fabrication cost savings).
This paper describes some of the various applications of composite materials on today's aircraft using state-of-the-art technology, and the various innovative integral advanced composite design and fabrication concepts as well as aeroelastic tailoring which can be used on future aircraft systems to achieve the overall objective of higher efficiency at lower cost.