Abstract

Honeycomb sandwich structures (HSS) are widely used in the aerospace industry due to their high strength-to-stiffness ratio. However, these materials are susceptible to damage during manufacturing or service that can cause great loss in the load bearing capacity or even failure. Thus, periodic or continuous nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of HSS is essential for safe operation. Development of effective NDE technique is challenging due to the geometric complexity of the honeycomb core. Guided ultrasonic waves are ideal for large-scale testing because of their large propagation range and high sensitivity to defects in their path. In this paper, an improved NDE method for detecting disbonds at the top and bottom interfaces between the core and facesheets is proposed based on experimental studies. By applying excitation signals at different frequencies, the responses at the top and bottom surface of plate-like HSS component are compared and analyzed. The response in a specific frequency range is further studied by introducing disbonds at the top interface. It is shown that some components of the recorded signal in a specific frequency range are more sensitive for detecting the disbond. In addition, an improvement of the conventional damage index based on the damage feature is proposed, and a systematic procedure for detecting damage inside HSS is conducted on an elevator section of an Airbus 330. The results show that the optimized damage index greatly improves the resolution and adaptability of damage detection in the structures.

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