Lightning Protection Technology for Small General Aviation Composite Material Aircraft 931241

An ongoing NASA (Small Business Innovation Research) SBIR Phase II design and development program will produce the first lightning protected, fiberglass, General Aviation aircraft that is available as a kit. The results obtained so far in development testing of typical components of the aircraft kit, such as the wing and fuselage panels indicate that the lightning protection design methodology and materials chosen are capable of protecting such small composite material airframes from lightning puncture and structural damage associated with severe threat lightning strikes. The primary objective of the program has been to develop a lightning protection design for a full scale test airframe and verify its adequacy with full scale laboratory testing, thus enabling production and sale of owner-built, lightning-protected, Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft, Inc. Glasair HI airplanes.
A second objective has been to provide lightning protection design guidelines for the General Aviation industry, and to enable these airplanes to meet lightning protection requirements for certification of small airplanes.
The protection design goals are to provide a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 23 level of protection in the following four areas to allow the aircraft to land at a nearby airport in event of a lightning strike:
  1. 1.
    Maintain structural integrity of the airframe.
  2. 2.
    Protect the occupants from hazardous electric shocks.
  3. 3.
    Prevent ignition of fuel vapors due to lightning strike effects.
  4. 4.
    Provide sufficient protection to flight critical items such as flight controls, propulsion, and avionics systems.
Industry-wide availability of the technical database developed will result from this project.
This paper describes the protection design approaches and development testing results obtained thus far in the program, together with design methodology which can achieve the design goals listed above. The presentation of this paper will also include results of some of the full scale verification tests, which will have been completed by the time of this conference.


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