Structural teardown and analysis: evolution of the teardown process
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Due to current economic conditions, aircraft are being operated to their design life and often beyond. In order to assess the true condition of these aging aircraft structures, structural teardowns have become more common over the past decade. Teardown data fidelity is highly dependent on the processes developed and implemented to gather the data; therefore, improper procedure selection often results in the destruction or degradation of teardown findings. Incorrect implementation of procedures also occurs during teardown programs and frequently results in increased scatter in the teardown data, which leads to difficulty interpreting the data and applying the results to the fleet. No detailed teardown planning process currently exists that incorporates lessons learned from previous programs. Common problems have occurred in recent teardown programs resulting in increased costs, schedule, and capacity requirements, and likely degradation or destruction of teardown data due to the lack of a defined process. A universally accepted teardown planning process would drastically reduce, or eliminate, these recurring problems. This research provides a step-by-step process for planning and executing a structural teardown program with the goal of minimizing or eliminating problems encountered during past teardown programs. The developed process defines four steps to plan and three steps to execute a structural teardown. Each of these seven steps provides specific recommendations to avoid common pitfalls of previous teardown programs. Four case studies of previous and ongoing teardowns are discussed and the methods implemented are compared to the proposed teardown process to assess potential improvements when using the proposed method. Costs of the proposed process are also compared to costs of the case study teardown programs to weight technical benefit versus increased cost.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Engineering, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering