Aircraft Joints: the Interaction between Corrosion Protection and Structural Performance
Aircraft joints feature prominently in aircraft structural degradation. Fatigue cracking and corrosion damage can reduce joint strength and degrade service life. Corrosion management can include use of paints and sealants and, increasingly, the application of Corrosion Inhibiting Compounds (CICs) which retard corrosion, by penetrating into crevices and cracks, and displacing water. A combination of coatings and CIC use can provide effective corrosion protection, but both interact - in different ways - with structural performance and overall system durability. This paper discusses the interaction between these two corrosion protection measures and fatigue performance of joints. The first issue relates to a reduction in the fatigue life of mechanically-fastened joints after application of CICs (or other lubricants) The lubricating properties of the CICs reduce the friction at the faying surface, which may change the load transfer characteristics of the joint. The paper discusses results from a test program assessing the fatigue life and failure mode of riveted lap joints; the results show a marked reduction in fatigue life for joints containing CICs, and the paper discusses the changes which may be responsible for the reduction. The second issue discussed is the degradation of protective coatings in service. Joints are key locations for coating cracking and failure, since areas such as sheet ends and fastener heads, where displacements are concentrated, will produce concentrated strain in coatings. So far, however, the potential influence of aircraft loading on coating degradation prognostics has received little attention. The paper discusses the role of joint displacement in service as a factor contributing to early degradation of aircraft coatings, and argues that this local strain effect, and indeed structural loading history, needs to be considered in predicting and assessing rates of coating degradation. It describes initial analyses of displacements in aircraft joints, to identify the levels of coating strain and the roles and relative contributions of the various deflections in the joints. The results indicate the potential for very large strains in coatings.
George Ferguson, Ashvin Thambyah, Michael A Hodgson and Kelly Wade
G. Clark et al., "Aircraft Joints: the Interaction between Corrosion Protection and Structural Performance", Advanced Materials Research, Vol. 275, pp. 101-104, 2011