Common types of aircraft damage

Set classifications for common types of aircraft damage ensures uniform diagnoses and accurate repair for all aircraft overhauls. There are eleven detailed aircraft damage classifications starting with the basic, dent. A dent is classified as a depressed or hollow deformation without removal of material or change in cross sectional area. Dents like these are caused by impact from a smoothly contoured object.

One characteristic all dents should have is a “pushed in surface” and a relatively smooth bottom where metal is not displaced, folded, or creased. Next we have nicks. Nicks are broken edges without cracks, but with portions of material removed. Negligible damage limits will vary with structure, material, and loading. Scratches is a classification that denotes marks penetrating the surface that reduce the structural cross section of the material but do not penetrate the complete thickness.

Generally, scratches in Alclad aluminum alloy sheet that do not penetrate the protective Alclad layer are classified as negligible. Hole damage refers to punctures, penetrations or cutouts that breach the complete thickness of the material and is fully surrounded by undamaged material. The size, shape, and distance from edges and supporting structures must be considered when evaluating hole damage.

Next, we have Abrasion damage. Abrasion refers to scuffing, rubbing, scraping, or other surface erosion. This type of damage is usually rough and has an irregular shape. A Gouge classification is damage where the result is a cross-sectional change caused by a sharp object and gives a continuous, sharp or smooth groove in the material.

Corrosion damage classification is used for deterioration of metal due to electrochemical reactions with its environment. Depending on the type of corrosion, this deterioration may take the form of cracking, exfoliation, or erosion of the corroding material. Corrosion is typically classified as light, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the corrosion and the loading requirements of the corroded part. Note damage is when an initial accurate determination of the type of damage encountered can usually be made by the use of a 10x magnifying glass or an optical micrometer.

True crack length determination will generally require some form of Non Destructive Testing such as Eddy Current or Fluorescent penetrants. The damage classification, Delamination is used when separation of the layers of material in a laminate, either local or covering a wide area, occurs during manufacturing or in service. Fiber-reinforced and composites may delaminate when impacted and not exhibit visible damage. The last type of common aircraft damage is Disbonds. Disbonds is an area within a bonded interface between two adherents in which an adhesion failure or separation has occurred. 

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