Approaches to detect, assess, monitor and repair damage in critical aircraft components fabricated from composite materials are essential for safe and cost effective operation. In metallic aircraft structures, it is common to leave some fractures in situ for a prescribed period until it is convenient to repair, provided strict inspection and verification processes are in place. Under current military aircraft structural management guidelines, visible damage to critical composite components requires either immediate repair or replacement. Much has been learnt about the behaviour of damaged composite structures, but further investigation is required to develop validated residual strength and life prediction tools. A preliminary review of an early physically based, residual strength prediction method was conducted. The accuracy of this method for use in predicting the strength of composite following a complex damage was tested by comparing the results with compression-after-impact test data for a composite laminate representative of F/A 18 fracture critical structure.