The Need for Multi-Sensor Data Fusion in Structural Health Monitoring of Composite Aircraft Structures

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With the increased use of composites in aircraft, many new successful contributions to the advancement of the structural health monitoring (SHM) field for composite aerospace structures have been achieved. Yet its application is still not often seen in operational conditions in the aircraft industry, mostly due to a gap between research focus and application, which constraints the shift towards improved aircraft maintenance strategies such as condition-based maintenance (CBM). In this work, we identify and highlight two key facets involved in the maturing of the SHM field for composite aircraft structures: (1) the aircraft maintenance engineer who requires a holistic damage assessment for the aircraft’s structural health management, and (2) the upscaling of the SHM application to realistic composite aircraft structures under in-service conditions. Multi-sensor data fusion concepts can aid in addressing these aspects and we formulate its benefits, opportunities, and challenges. Additionally, for demonstration purposes, we show a conceptual design study for a fusion-based SHM system for multi-level damage monitoring of a representative composite aircraft wing structure. In this manner, we present how multi-sensor data fusion concepts can be of benefit to the community in advancing the field of SHM for composite aircraft structures towards an operational CBM application in the aircraft industry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number183
Number of pages26
JournalAerospace — Open Access Aeronautics and Astronautics Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • aircraft components
  • composite structures
  • condition-based maintenance
  • data fusion
  • health management; structural health monitoring

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