Three Labs to Explore 737 Stabilizer

November 28, 2004 by Carl Chance

Boeing 737 Stabilizer

737 Stabilizer Evaluation

Three of NIAR’s labs are evaluating the aging effects on a decommissioned Boeing 737 Tail.

The primary objective of the project is to learn more about aging the composite structures through destructive and non-destructive testing.

The 737-200 graphite/epoxy stabilizer, developed by Boeing as part of the NASA ACEE program, has been in service for 18 years.

The purpose of its development was to challenge aircraft manufacturers to redesign existing aircraft components using graphite/epoxy composites. All but two of the Shipsets have been retired.

Although the non-destructive evaluation will be performed in accordance to the current field methods, more sophisticated techniques such as 3-D Photogrammetry and laser holography are being used as well. Detailed structural evaluation will also be conducted to evaluate the changes in thermal, chemical and mechanical properties.

The ultimate goal is to understand the aging effects on the performance of the composite structure and to give recommendations pertaining to viability of composites versus metal aircraft structures.

The program is being conducted on behalf of the NIAR’s FAA Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials. NIAR Executive Director John Tomblin and Lamia Salah, manager of the Fatigue and Fracture lab, are the project’s principal investigators.

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