Short course on Aircraft Structural Design & Technologies

JU News Desk
Published: December 2014

The short term course by IIAEM focused on training the manpower to make aircrafts

aircraftWith the constant evolution of technology, aircrafts have evolved from being simple mechanical machines to complex, cutting edge technological masterpieces. Today, every part of an aircraft has evolved into a specific field of study and requires specific expertise. However, the main thrust of R&D activities in the past century has been on making planes safer and efficient to fly. Right from engines to avionics, the aerospace industry in the country critically needs a large pool of dedicated and  talented engineers. Still, the most critical aspect of an aircraft happens to be its structure, specifically the materials and technology used for manufacturing them.

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One of the most significant contributors to the consideration of aero-elasticity in the designing of modern day aircraft structures is the advent of high strength fibre-reinforced light weight composite materials. The directional properties of these composite materials have made them amenable for “aeroelastic tailoring” which is essentially an optimization procedure. Right from wood, aluminum, titanium to current trend of usage of such carbon composites in almost all areas of an aircraft’s design, have pushed for a more specific field of study and research on aircraft structures and technologies for their fabrication. Additionally, for the aircrafts which are flying today, their safe and acceptable performance requires incessant upkeep of aircraft structural integrity. It is imperative that metal structural maintenance be made according to the best available methods. Keeping in mind the trained manpower required and the criticality of such knowledge, IIAEM, Jain University recently organized a three-day short course on aircraft structural design & technologies. The course was aimed at scientists, students and engineers associated with the design, development, manufacturing and testing of the both rotary and fixed-wing aircrafts and was attended by participants from different extents of aerospace fraternity, including engineering officers and pilots from the Indian Air Force.

The objective of this course was to expose the practice of carrying out the design activities & assemblies which are vital in any aircraft manufacturing. The three day course, coordinated by experts from premium aerospace organizations included eminent speakers from the industry, like D.V. Kamesh, a scientist working on India’s Future Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft Program at ADA, Bangalore and Dr. M Manjuprasad, Chief Scientist & Group Head of Computational Mechanics and Simulation Group at Structural Technologies Division, NAL, Bangalore. The course covered myriad topics including aero-servo elasticity in fly-by wire aircrafts, structural design philosophies like safe life, fail safe, damage tolerance with their application, structural design considerations for special purpose requirements like crash, impact, temperature and associated technology development requirements like materials properties, rivets, bonding, welded assemblies, inspection procedures and few others.

iiaemIn-depth analysis of topics pertaining to structural assembly, which are dealt at manufacturing level, was a stimulant for the practicing engineers too, working in various aerospace companies. The topics covered during the sessions ranged from the role and layout of the major structural assemblies in aircraft to fatigue loads in aircraft operations. The participants were also given an overall understanding of materials and manufacturing processes, implemented in various successful indigenous projects like the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas and the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH), Dhruv. It’s important to take note of the fact that India is one of the leading manufacturers and R&D hub for carbon composites, the material which replaces aluminum in aircraft structures. Composites are used to make an aircraft both lighter and stronger at the same time compared to an all-metal design.

Sessions dedicated to aero-structures were an important source of information for engineers who are currently employed in repairing and assessment of structural damages caused due to fatigue. For the uninitiated, in most of the aircrafts, the skin of an aircraft is very critical to safety of an aircraft. Not only the structure gives the aircraft its aerodynamic shape but also goes through torsion stress and can lead to cracks in the airframe. In aircraft maintenance these minute cracks are not visible to human eye but are diagnosed with the help of sophisticated ultra-sonic equipment and requires experience and in-depth working knowledge. With the country witnessing intensive growth in both operation and manufacturing of aircrafts, a pool of talented and qualified engineers and scientists will be required to make India self-reliant in aerospace technologies. Such niche courses go a long way in imparting the requisite knowledge from industry leaders to the masses.