Research efforts at Bombardier Aerospace have investigated design constraints that need to be addressed when considering the design of a future unconventional fuselage concept. Using a composite design platform integrated with structural health monitoring (SHM) technologies, the design space is broadened and there are many more unknowns to investigate from our current knowledge of the subject to date. The principal idea is to identify structural zones and quantify stress levels in areas of concern, referred to as ‘hot-spots’, by integrating an SHM system at a conceptual design level. This new concept would require an assessment of benefits and detriments in order to evaluate the certification processes, impact on maintenance, operation, and ownership costs.
The integration of an SHM system using onboard sensors introduces many challenges, such as the requirement for multiple sensors in the structure and additional systems weight. The investigation shows how the aircraft structural design would be impacted and how design, stress, supply-chain, manufacturing, and the systems departments need to be harmonised in order to design a feasible and integrated SHM-structural fuselage concept.