The incorporation of real-time structural health monitoring has the potential to substantially reduce the inspection burden of advanced composite rotor blades, particularly if impacts can be detected and characterized using operational data. Data-driven impact identification techniques, such as those applied in this work, require that a structural dynamic model of blade frequency response functions (FRFs) be developed for the operational environment. However, the operational characteristics of the rotor system are not accurately described by a model developed and validated in a nonrotating environment. The discrepancies are predominately due to two sources: the change in the blade root boundary condition and the presence of a centrifugal force. This research demonstrates an analytical methodology to compensate for the first of these effects. Derivations of this method are included, as well as analytical and experimental results. Additionally, the theory and experimental results are presented for an approach by which planar impact area and impactor stiffness may be estimated. Applying these techniques, impact location estimation accuracy was improved from 51.6% to 94.2%. Impacts produced by objects of 2–in. diameter were demonstrated to be distinguishable from those of 1 in. or less diameter. Finally, it was demonstrated that the impacts by objects of metallic material were distinguishable from those of rubber material, and that such differentiation was robust to impactor size and impact force magnitude.

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