Professor Jie Tong, an aerospace mechanics expert from the University’s Department of Mechanical and Design Engineering, is leading the international team of experts with funding from the Royal Society.
The team’s mission is to develop state-of-the-art computer modelling programs that will reveal how aircraft components react under the stresses of flying.
The existing life prediction method involves expensive mechanical testing - one of the reasons why it costs so much to buy a plane ticket.
In particular, the researchers are looking at small cracks inherent in metal components in aircraft engines. These cracks grow and change over time. This process is known as metal fatigue or ‘fatigue crack growth’.
Metal fatigue in aeroplane engines is not a common cause of crashes - pilot error is a larger one - but it has resulted in a number of incidents in the past, most notably the 1989 United Airlines crash in the United States when a passenger plane cartwheeled across the tarmac while trying to land.
Investigators later found a piece of metal holding the fan blades had shattered, ruining the DC-10’s hydraulics. The accident killed 112 people.
“In any aircraft journey the parts of the engine go through a complex combination of stresses and vibrations. We need to know how the inherent cracks in the metal are going to be affected,” Professor Tong explained.
“The safety of aircraft depends on engineers knowing when the cracks are going to become a problem so that plans can be made to replace components during regular inspection cycles. The scheduling of these inspections critically depends on the precise knowledge of crack growth mechanisms and growth rate.”
Professor Tong said the research team would use novel experimental and computational methods to create a comprehensive computer modelling program that will show in detail how the components react under stress.
The Royal Society funding will allow the Portsmouth team to join forces with materials scientists from the University of Siegen in Germany.
“We will be working with the Siegen scientists, using a powerful transmission microscope (TEM) to examine the complex dislocation structure and other microscopic changes in the components caused by damage,” Professor Tong said.
“We will then take this information and create a mathematical model to accurately predict the rate of fatigue crack growth.
“This work will not only improve air safety, but also reduce the maintenance cost - currently running into billions of dollars worldwide - which means cheaper and safer air travel for all.”
The University of Portsmouth has a strong track record in aerospace mechanics. Researchers at the Department of Mechanical and Design Engineering have been working with Rolls Royce - the world’s leading manufacturer of aeroengines – for more than 30 years.
Rajiv Maharaj | alfa
Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex
UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
06.12.2016 | Life Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering