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**Leandro Guimarães Maia
**

ACS – Advanced Composite Solutions www.acs-solutions.com.br

**Paulo Henriques Iscold Andrade de Oliveira
**

Centro de Estudos Aeronáuticos da Escola de Engenharia da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – CEA/EEUFMG

ABSTRACT To attend the next generation of aircraft, which will demand higher levels of crashworthiness performance and occupant safety, the development and validation of reliable simulation tools is a very important task. Through efficient use of finite element simulation technologies, development costs and certification tests can be reduced, while meeting aircraft safety and crashworthiness requirements. The present work presents an overview of aircraft crash and occupant simulation, highlights selected topics of the finite element crash technology, review recent applications, and identify future challenges of the technology. INTRODUCTION While crash avoidance has been and will continue to be the main theme in aircraft safety, the design for crash survivability has become of increasing importance during the last decades, since it has been demonstrated that many crashes are potentially survivable. The tendency for the future is that aircraft crash survivability will need to be comparable to highway auto accidents, and the same integrated occupant safety features (energy absorbing structures, smart restraint systems, airbags, etc.) current present in most automobiles will need to be available in the aircraft. For this reasons aircraft crashworthiness and occupant safety are among the most important and challenging design considerations in the aircraft industry. Crashworthiness evaluation is ascertained by a combination of tests and analytical methods. The arrival of faster computers and more efficient explicit finite element codes has expanded tremendously the capability of the analytical methods and led to the possibility of detailed crashworthiness studies through complete aircraft crash simulations by finite element models. The simulation can

incorporate structural complexities such as: geometrically accurate models; human occupant models; restraint systems and airbag models; and advanced material models to include nonlinear stress-strain behaviors, laminate composites and material failure. This simulation technology is for long being used by the automotive industry driven by safety legislation and consumer pressure for safety. To attend the new crashworthiness design requirements that will be established by the next generation of aircraft, the development and validation of reliable simulation tools is an important mean of reducing development costs and certification tests, while meeting aircraft safety and crashworthiness requirements. The present work presents an overview of aircraft crash and occupant simulation, highlights selected topics of the finite element crash technology, review recent applications, and identify future challenges of the technology. AIRCRAFT CRASH SIMULATION Analytical simulation of aircraft crashworthiness has evolved over the past 30 years [1]. The pioneering analysis utilized lumped parameter models, also known as kinematic models, which employ a semi empirical modeling approach using lumped masses, beams, and nonlinear springs to represent the airframe structure. The equations of motion are explicitly integrated to obtain the velocities, displacements and rotations of the lumped masses under the influence of external and internal forces. These models rely heavily on test data for definition of the spring properties to characterize the crushing behavior of the subfloor, landing gear, and other energy absorbing components.

a general multi-body/finite element program with a number of special features for crash analyses. In the finite element dummy models. have been developed especially for impact and nonlinear dynamic simulations. the finite element approach is able to reproduce accurately not . through which. In addition. and contact is easily and efficiently handled. [2] OCCUPANT SIMULATION One of the first successful tools for the simulation of human body response was the ATB (Articulated Total Body) program that started to be developed by the US Air Force in 1975 and still have frequent use. restraint system models and contact models. These characteristics are used to describe contact within the dummy and between the dummy and the environment. but are only recently being considered for aircraft structures. [4] Ellipsoid models are based fully on MADYMO’s rigid body modeling features. The inertial properties of the dummy components are incorporated into the rigid bodies of the model and their geometry is described by means of ellipsoids. Good correlations between analytical and experimental data can be obtained for global parameters. Compared with ellipsoid and facet models. especially for rotorcraft. these models would be unable to predict localized responses. but compared to the ellipsoid approach. Facet dummy models are more realistic and detailed than the ellipsoid ones. Structural deformation of flexible members is represented by deformable bodies. they benefit from more advanced technology. Facet models are also based on multi-bodies. [3] A more recent and powerful tool is MADYMO. The motion of the joint-connected elements is caused by external forces generated by acceleration fields. as for example the stress level in an airframe component at a particular time during a crash event. cylinders and planes. such as engine or landing gear responses. which now includes injury criteria (HIC and SI) calculations. Using these contact characteristics. finite element structures or combinations of the two. In the last 20 years. Simplification of a complex aircraft structure to less than 100 elements requires significant engineering judgment and numerous approximations. the number of degrees of freedom between the elements can be constrained. During the last years KRASH was significantly improved and a lot of new features have been added to the code. Typical kinematic models are generally composed of less than 100 elements. and occupant models can be incorporated into the structural analysis. engineering workstation computation power is sufficient to allow the use of a new generation of crash analysis codes. In response to the needs of the automotive industry. A MADYMO model can be made of multi-body systems. Deformation of soft materials (flesh and skin components in the dummy) is represented by stress-based contact characteristics defined for the facet surfaces.Dytran and PAM-CRASH. The original version of KRASH was developed and experimentally verified under U. an expanded oleo-pneumatic landing gear module. MSC. As design tools these finite element crash codes have gained wide acceptance in the automotive industry for vehicle crash simulations. Inertial properties of dummy components are represented by the properties of both the rigid bodies and the finite element meshes. and allow a more accurate geometric representation if compared to the ellipsoid approach. Currently however. a general case of the lumped mass models where the elements can be connected by various joint types. In facet models the outer surfaces of the dummy are described with 2D meshes of massles contact elements. Army sponsorship. several commercial finite element codes such LS-DYNA.S. The ATB is implemented using multi-body systems. spring-damper elements. which enables a more realistic representation of structural deformation than the joints and restraints used in the ellipsoid models. On the other hand.Probably the most known kinematic crash analysis code is KRASH. These facet surfaces are fully supported to rigid or deformable bodies. optimization and extensive parameter sensitivity studies. Further developments sponsored by the FAA extended the capabilities of KRASH for application to general aviation and transport aircraft. important deformable parts are modeled with finite elements. Three types of occupant dummy models are supplied by MADYMO: ellipsoid dummy models. The mutli-body approach is particularly attractive due to its capability of simulating in a very efficient way complex kinematic connections as in the human body. Structural deformation of flexible components is lumped in kinematic joints in combination with dynamic restraint models. Ellipsoid dummy models are the most CPU-time efficient and therefore are particularly suitable for concept. available are also models of safety features such as airbags. soft material deformation is represented accurately through the contact interactions within the dummy model and between the dummy and its environment. Deformation of soft materials (flesh and skin components in the dummy) is represented by force-based contact characteristics defined for the ellipsoids. these kinematic simulations enable quick computations and are well suited for early design simulations where structural details are not defined. which has a history of more than 30 years. These codes contain material models for metals and composites. facet dummy models and finite element dummy models. and are still very CPU-time efficient compared to the more detailed finite element models. a soft soil module as well as a water impact code.

The technique’s attractiveness is that since the displacements are known at the time for which the dynamic equilibrium of the system is solved. As an element dimension decreases. localized structural deformations occur during a few wave transits in the structure. The only drawbacks of the explicit algorithm are the conditional stability and the inability of the methodology to treat static problems. Finite element dummy models incorporate a vast amount of degrees of freedom and require a small integration time step. composite materials. they are much less CPU-time efficient than the other models and are recommended for use in the most detailed studies. The deformation initially involves wave effects. The structures may contain aluminum of various strength. the corresponding material density or nodal masses are increased in such a way that the resulting time step remains constant. but even so. [6. the technique stills the best approach. and it is conditionally stable. Since the time step of the analysis is linearly dependent upon the shortest mesh dimension in the model. but also local deformations of specific components and flesh/skin materials. and a central differencing technique allows the analyst to determine the displacements at the next time step and repeat the process. A number of techniques were developed in order to allow explicit simulations to run with constant time step value. For crash simulations involving extensive use of contact. which dominate the subsequent transient response. kinematics and stacking of components. The conditional stability of the integration algorithm means that the integration time step must be smaller then or equal to an upper bound value that corresponds to the smallest element characteristic length divided by the acoustic wave speed through the material of which the element is made.only kinematics and global deformations. is among the most challenging nonlinear problems in structural mechanics. Unfortunately this is not exactly the case of an aircraft crash. If the integration parameters are selected to decouple the equations. The . The solution first discretizes the equation in space by formulating the problem in a weak variational form and assuming an admissible displacement field. forces transmitted through the various members. Accelerations are determined from the equilibrium. stresses. the structure experiences high impact loads.The finite element method of structural dynamics solves numerically a set of nonlinear partial differential equations of motion in the space-time domain. In the explicit algorithms the equilibrium is expressed at a moment in time where the displacements of all spatial points are already known. the basis of all crashworthiness simulations is the 4-noded Belytschko and Tsay shell. It has been demonstrated that the application of mass scaling has little or no influence on the resulting accuracy of the global simulation result. associated with high stresses. as deformation changes a drop of the time step seems mathematically unavoidable. and problems of a highly nonlinear nature that require small time steps for accuracy reason. The most widely used method is mass scaling. Due to this restriction. then the solution is labeled explicit. and energy absorption. and in the case the solution is unconditionally stable. which produce localized plastic hinges and buckling. SHELL ELEMENTS . this process requires inversion only of the mass matrix. Of particular interest in the analysis are structural integrity.The shell element that has been.7] EXPLICIT INTEGRATION . where local effects of contact interactions and local material deformations are of interest. it turned out that explicit solvers are more robust and computationally more efficient than implicit solvers. it is clear that explicit methods would be better suited to treat problems of short duration and thus. Next. The technique is labeled implicit if the selected integration parameters render the equation coupled. high loading velocity. The finite element meshes are defined with respect to those bodies of the rigid body chain to which they are connected. the system of equations is solved by discretization in the time domain. or equal to. a phenomenon that can extend for more than 100ms. strains. Automobile or aircraft structures are typically manufactured from many formed thin shell parts. and still remains. These enable the dummy model to be positioned in the same manner as the ellipsoid and facet model by specifying the dummy joint positions. During a crash incident. The requirement is equivalent to saying that the numerical time step of the analysis must be smaller than. FE CRASH SIMULATION TECHNOLOGY Finite element crashworthiness analysis of transportation vehicles in general. The explicit integration method stands for a numerical technique to integrate a system of ordinary differential equations that usually results from the spatial discretization of a continuum. This yields a set of second order differential equations in time. multiple material models and a combination of non-traditional elements. [5] Some selected topics of the finite element crash simulation technology are highlighted in the following subsections. This is followed by inertial effects. the time needed for the physical stress wave to cross the smallest element in its shortest direction. As a result. Once these stresses exceed the yield strength of the material or its critical buckling load. coupled with material stress-strain relations along with definition of appropriate initial and boundary conditions. subsequently assembled by various fastening techniques. This can ultimately lead to large deformations and rotations with contact and stacking among the various components. titanium and steel.

for example. the perturbationstabilized underintegrated element may behave either too weak or too stiff compared to reality. The stiffness of this contact spring is determined through a penalty factor controlled by the user. Hourglass modes correspond to zero element stiffness with respect to certain deformation modes. which are introduced numerically in order to prevent the hourglass velocity components in the element from becoming unbounded. substructure models are currently the most used modeling strategy. as the velocities normal to the contact interface are discontinuous in the time when impact occurs. One possibility are selective-reduced-integration (SRI) elements. APPLICATIONS A review of recent applications of finite element aircraft crashworthiness simulation is presented by the following sub-sections. they do not correspond to a stress in the element. which when used with full-integration were shown to overcome all hourglassing and shear locking at a cost of roughly three times the original Belytschko and Tsay shell element. However with full integration the element will suffer from another drawback called shear locking. component models were used to investigate the crashworthiness behavior of composite helicopter floor structures and subfloor structures for a commuter type aircraft. The keel-beam was designed to be a retrofitable component in general aviation aircraft in order to improve crashworthiness performance. These modes are prevented mainly by the use of perturbation hourglass forces. The main problem in contact algorithms originates however. CONTACT . Although these forces are supposed to make up for missing element stiffness. .Due to the tremendous complexity of a complete aircraft model. The energy absorption characteristics of the design were evaluated through MSC. [8-13] Another example is a lightweight energy-absorbing keel-beam concept developed within the framework of a NASA LaRC program for aviation safety and crashworthiness. The drawback of the underintegration is that a number of zero-energy or hourglass modes exist in the element. in the search algorithms that define which nodes are in contact with which segment.Any crash code must provide for a mean to simulate the transmission of forces between the individual body parts through contact. and thus constitute an external force field of rather arbitrary magnitude controlled by user-defined coefficients. Other problem is the node-to-segment nature (a defined set of nodes is not allowed to penetrate a defined set of segments) of most algorithms that leads to a systematic failure of detecting edge-to-edge or edge-to-segment penetrations. Within the European program CRASURV – Design for Crash Survivability”. Due to the introduction of this force field. and the sometimes unpractical time that would be required for such a crash simulation. Contact-impact problems are among the most difficult nonlinear problems. In spite of the tradeoff for numerical robustness and efficiency. [14] SUBSTRUCTURE SIMULATIONS . the results obtained using the Belytschko and Tsay elements in thousands of crashworthiness simulations during more then a decade have been good enough to establish its usefulness to the industry. A straightforward solution for the hourglass modes could be the use of full integration. and can serve also as a strong tool for the validation of new element formulations or material models. which remains the most inefficient and time consuming part of the explicit solution. COMPONENT SIMULATIONS .use of bilinear interpolation functions and a single in-plane integration point are the main reasons for the remarkable computational efficiency of the element.Dytran simulations. Other solutions exist to neutralize hourglass modes using uniform bilinear interpolation while avoiding shear locking. which avoid shear locking for rectangular elements but some problems still occur in irregular meshes. ensuring objectivity in the sense that no spurious strains and stresses are calculated if the element is subjected to large rigid body rotational motions. however this dramatically increases the complexity of the implementation and decreases the element performance. such as in-plane bending. Shear locking can be avoided by the use of higher order interpolation functions. and are automatically deleted as soon as that penetration has been annihilated. which occurs when non-zero out-ofplane shear strains are predicted by the element in conditions of pure bending resulting in an overly-stiff element response. since.Component simulations are very important for the determination of crush performance of generic components. Another approach corresponds to the assumed-naturalcoordinate-strain (ANS) elements. the response is generally not smooth The contact definitions consist of a number of “contact springs” or spring elements that are generated in the models as soon as a contact and the consequent penetration is detected. This is done by making contact interaction definitions an indispensable part of the spatial discretization of the structure. All element strains and stresses are calculated in a local reference system. The development of a fully-integrated element that avoids all shear locking and maintains the simplicity of uniform bilinear interpolation has proven to be a challenging task.

and in 2003 the FAA provided guidance for demonstration of compliance by means of computer modeling techniques. an A320 fuselage section was drop tested and the test was successfully simulated by kinematic and finite element models. tailored as applicable for the various aircraft types and configurations. composite subfloor belly structures of a commuter and also an airliner type aircraft. Also the predicted acceleration responses showed a high level of correlation with test data. Despite some difficulties in the correlation of test and analysis results. initiated in 1996.Dytran. some examples are listed below. Since the establishment of these requirements the state of numerical simulation techniques evolved sufficiently to permit. was pendulum tested. The seat-occupant-restraint system can be modeled by a multi-body solver (MADYMO for example). and related interior systems for demonstrating structural strength and the ability of those systems to protect an occupant from serious injuries. and still remains.Even considering the large amount of computational time required for a realistic crash simulation of a complete aircraft. For example. Such approach has not been always the traditional practice in the automotive industry. This tool has always been. Another example is two B737 fuselage sections that were drop tested by the FAA Technical Center and had their full-scale three dimensional finite element model validated. overall prediction was considered good. [31-33] COMPLETE AIRCRAFT SIMULATIONS . a Lancair Columbia 300. restraint systems. [15-19] Substructure models have been also used to investigate innovative crashworthy fuselage concepts. The purpose of the test was to evaluate the performance of a modified subfloor structure for improved energy absorption.Dytran model of an all-composite Lear Fan aircraft fuselage was developed to simulate an impact test that has been conducted at the NASA LaRC. The analysis was executed with LS-Dyna solver and the predictions were correlated with test data obtained from a 30ft/s drop test. [26] A very important application of substructure models is in the design and more recently certification of seats.The tendency for future aircraft crashworthiness design is that an envelope of crash conditions. [39] INTEGRATED SIMULATIONS . This process has many shortcomings. built and dynamically tested. evaluated the capabilities of commercial crash simulation codes for modeling the impact response of a composite helicopter. [20-25] The capability of the analytical tools to simulate multi-terrain impact was investigated by the NASA LaRC using a crashworthy composite fuselage section concept. within the European program “Crashworthiness for Commercial Aircraft”. anthropomorphic test devices. The tests were simulated using finite element methods with enhanced composite material models. a twin-turboprop highwing commuter-class aircraft. achieving reasonable correlation. For the test. A US Army research program. [34-35] A MSC. a finite element crash solver or a coupling between both. fuselage section models has been used to demonstrate computational capabilities through analytical and experimental correlation.562 and FAR §25. As part of this program. will need to be considered since the early design stages. Aircraft seats must be certified according to dynamic performance standards. the desire of the safety analysts to simulate the crash event in one model that can predict occupant response associated with the crash event in real time. [36] As part of the AGATE’s “Advanced General Aviation Transport Experiments” crashworthiness research program. as part of cooperation between NASA LaRC and the FAA Technical Center.To build confidence in the application of finite element methods for aircraft crashworthiness. The analytical prediction correctly simulated the major damage mode seen during test. the aircraft was configured with seats. a finite element model of the Sikorsky Advanced Composite Airframe Program (ACAP) helicopter was developed and the results were correlated with full-scale crash test data. an all-composite general aviation aircraft with added crashworthiness features. presented by requirements FAR §23. A very useful tool for such assessment would be an integrated aircraft-occupant-restraints model. luggage and water representing the fuel. These requirements determine dynamic tests for evaluating the performance of aircraft seats. [37-38] Until now the largest reported application was the crash simulation of an ATR42-300. where crashworthiness analysis has focused on sequential simulations of vehicle structures and occupants. the use of these techniques in lieu of dynamic test. this kind of application is already turning into reality. A full-scale fuselage finite element model of the test was implemented and relative good correlation was obtained. Again. in some cases. the real-time interactions between the occupant and vehicle structure during the crash are not simulated and the analyst must learn and use two analysis . which was collapse and failure of the fuselage structure beneath the wing.562 [27-30]. with the occupant simulation being driven by the vehicle deceleration pulse. Survivability will need then to be demonstrated under these selected crash scenarios [40]. within the European program CRASURV. soft soil and water was simulated with MSC. For illustration. In conjunction with a test program the impact of the fuselage section onto rigid surface. have been designed.

Crashworthiness simulations that include structures.Another recent challenge is related to the validation of the crash modeling approaches by correlation with experimental data [47]. and the first applications by the aerospace community were already reported. imperfect structure assembly. no application involving impact dynamics for aircraft structures exist. The composite is assumed to be a heterogeneous material with a matrix and a fiber phase. More simple damaging models present an alternative and currently one of the most accurate models is implemented by PAM-CRASH. computational time requirements and the nonlinearities intrinsic to crash event. However.). leaving little or no room for tolerances (uncertainty) in modeling. Truly predictive models of the crushing behavior of composites may not be achieved in the near term. Several failure mechanisms not commonly associated with the crushing of ductile materials are active on composites.). in addition to the expenses in performing an impact test on a full-scale fuselage or fuselage section.Dytran and ATB model of the fuselage section. Both. velocity. and there is still a lot to be learned in the field. while minimizing weight and achieving high target reliability. The small scale of the crushing damage. simulation-based multidisciplinary optimization generates deterministic optimum design.techniques. Also at the NASA LaRC a drop test of a composite fuselage section concept for light aircraft (the same mentioned above for multi-terrain impact evaluation) was analyzed using an integrated MSC. but may be impractical for engineering crash analysis. the design of future aircraft shall demand multidisciplinary optimization coupled with a computational crashworthiness analysis. which are frequently pushed to the limits of design constraints boundaries. RBDO methods provide an analytic and systematic way of considering uncertainty. Recently the first successful applications of RBDO methods have been published. the matrix phase and the fibers may undergo modulus fracturing damage after an initial linear elastic phase. dynamic delamination. These two phases have own rheological behavior and individual representation of failure. rate dependencies. etc. etc. material property variations (yield hardening modulus.One of the current challenges of finite element crash modeling are composite structures. indicating the need for Reliability-Based Design Optimization (RBDO). Currently however. [912] ANALYSIS VALIDATION . the lack of reliable material characterization of significant factors (such as friction coefficients. The damage is assumed to be zero for equivalent strains below an initial threshold and increase bi-linear up to the strain level corresponding to the ultimate damage. seats and dummies. Currently existing phenomenological composite crush models may be used to help identify critical parameters in the crushing response of a particular material or geometry configuration. A major deficiency has been identified in the current correlation approaches related to the lack of sufficient information to adequately determine the uncertainty in the experimental data. which is an inefficient use of human and hardware resources. [48] RELIABILITY-BASED DESIGN OPTIMIZATION Due to the competitive global market and the tendency for increased occupant safety. [42] In the PAM-CRASH fabric material model. Consequently. Unlike conventional deterministic optimization.). failure. Although extensive work has been done to enable the use of finite element stochastic analysis. Moreover. Very good correlation was observed between analytical and experimental results.). The tendency is that RBDO methods will be an essential tool also in the design of a next generation of aircraft. Factors affecting experimental and modeling uncertainty include: offnominal impact conditions (attitude. the computation of the impact responses of complex structures requires assumptions and simplification must be made in the model representation. ATB and MADYMO occupant models can be coupled to most of the finite element crash solvers. simulation uncertainties. the failure of fibers and matrix are modeled individually. make the problem very difficult. are already successfully applied by the automotive industry. severely limits the capability to perform repeatable testing. [4950] CONCLUSION From the presented it can be conclude that finite element aircraft crashworthiness simulation is already a reality. [41] FUTURE CHALLENGES COMPOSITE MATERIALS MODELING . occupants and restraint system in one model are already a reality in the automotive industry. fracture toughness. and manufacturing imperfections. deterministic optimum designs that are obtained without consideration of uncertainty may result in unreliable designs. the complexity of the interaction between failure modes occurring on a variety of scales. The application of any optimization methods to crash analysis is strongly limited by solver instability (runs may fail due to design perturbation and as a result the design sensitivity is unavailable). Destruction of the test article during the test. relating enhanced crashworthiness performance. etc. crashworthiness optimization with different methods. though various researchers have made progress in this area. and fabrication anomalies (nonuniform cross-sections. With wide acceptance in the automotive industry . Even with these limitations. etc.

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