Identification and Assessment of Damage to Composite Aircraft Structures Training Document
Individuals who complete the applicable modules aligned with this training document will be able to define the type of damage, define the extent of damage, determine if further inspection is required, evaluate the damage against published allowable damage limits, and provide accurate documentation of the damage. The intended outcome of the training is increased safety such that no aircraft is released with unknown damage and that the aircraft meets continued airworthiness requirements. The goal is to change the culture from damage discovery to damage reporting while also reducing or eliminating flight delays due to incorrect or insufficient information.
Teaching levels have been assigned to the curriculum to define the knowledge, skills, and abilities graduates will need. Minimum hours of instruction have been provided to ensure adequate coverage of all subject matter including lecture and practical exercise. These minimums may be exceeded and may include an increase in the total number of training hours and/or increases in the teaching levels. The modules are intended to be a competency-based training approach.
Each curriculum is a subpart of this document.
Module 1 is the Composite Awareness curriculum, independent of the application.
Module 2 is the Initial Inspection and Damage Mapping curriculum.
Module 3 is the Special Inspection Tools curriculum.
Module 4 is the Reporting, Recording, and Assessment curriculum.
NOTE: While the modules in this document are technically interrelated, each module can be trained independently; modules may be selected as applicable to an operator’s or maintenance organization’s needs. The combination of the modules represents the applicable identification and assessment process for damage to composite aircraft structures (see Figure 1). Module 1 is prerequisite for attendance to the other modules.
The contents of Module 1 may also be used for composite awareness training of a broader target audience, including line mechanics.
With the increased use of composites in the construction of primary structure in commercial aircraft particularly of structure exposed to accidental damage during operation, there is a growing concern that damage may be improperly identified, inadequately assessed, or not reported.
A risk exists due to:
Many of the individuals working around composite aircraft may have little or no specific training or familiarity with composites and their differences from metals. This creates an opportunity for a common human factor “Lack of Knowledge” to affect their decisions and actions when reporting or investigating an aircraft damage event.
Experience with previous aircraft may lead to human factors “Complacency” and “Norms” which may prevent individuals from taking the actions necessary to properly address composite structure.
Individuals lacking proper training may not have the assertiveness to assess and report damage while operating under the stress, pressure, and fatigue common in the airline industry.
Incomplete reporting of composite damage leads to more iterations and time in damage assessment process.
All personnel working in the vicinity of a composite aircraft must be made aware of the importance of reporting all potential damage events to composite structure. Once the event is reported, it is the responsibility of the targeted audience to begin the assessment process, which will be covered in this curriculum.
The use of composites in commercial aircraft requires proper training for identification, assessment, and reporting of accidental damage during operations.
The damage assessment process on composite structure may require the use of special inspection tools defined as NDI equipment specified by the appropriate technical manual intended for use by non-NDT personnel. Training to operate these tools, the understanding of the composite structure configuration (e.g., surface, substructure, taper regions), and routine exposure to usage of the tools are key factors for effective damage assessment. The targeted audience includes line maintenance technicians, inspectors, certifying staff that can release the aircraft, and personnel evaluating the damage against Allowable Damage Limits (ADLs).