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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology

Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology

Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Composites are combinations of two or more materials that differ in composition
or form.
The element that make up the composite retain their individuals identities.
In other word, the individual elements do not dissolve or otherwise merge into
each other. Each can be physically identified.
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The term composite structure refers to:
Fabric resin combinations in which the fabric is embedded in the resin but
retains its identity

Example of a composite structure:
Reinforced concrete:
- Made from a combination of cement (concrete) and steel rods
- The steel rods carry the tension loads
- The concrete carries the compression loads
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Resin used can be of polyester resins or epoxies and vinyl.

Fibres such as glass fibre, carbon fibre, Kevlar fibre, and hybrid are used.
These are known as advance composite material.
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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology

1. Weight reductions of 20% or more as compared to aluminium alloy structure
2. High strength / weight ratio
3. High corrosion resistance.
4. Good fatigue resistance
5. Good vibration resistance
6. Good impact strength
7. Capability of achieving a smooth surface
- aerodynamic and parasitic drag reduce
Advantages using composite as compared to metal
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Properties and Construction in Composite
Transverse properties are:
Direction of the reinforcement fibres and ability of the resin (matrix) to
transfer loads from one fibre to another.
Therefore the greater the ratio of reinforced fibres to matrix, the greater the
strength of the composite
During manufacture or while carrying out composite repair,it must be in
accordance to the structural repair manual.
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Carbon fibres are made from pure carbon. In the USA
carbon fibres are called graphite fibres. The fibres are
manufactured by the controlled heating of PAN fibres (eg.
Courtelle, Acrilan, Orlon) in a furnace filled with an inert
gas. The process operates at about 1000C to 2500C. It is
a slow process and uses a large amount of energy.

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A range of carbon fibres are available having
either high stiffness or high strength. All of them
are, stiffer than glassfibres, but only the high
strength carbon fibres are stronger than
glassfibres in tension.

The carbon fibres are woven into cloth to make
them easier to handle , cut and align and to
reduce damage to the fibres during lamination.
Few weave patterns are available

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When sanding carbon fibre composites during repair
work for example, the fine carbon fibres may find their
way into electrical equipment and cause short circuits.

When machining and sanding carbon fibre composite,
use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust being
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Aramid fibres are made from aromatic polyamide, a type of nylon. Kevlar
is an aramid fibre, it has very high strength and impact resistance.

Kevlar 49 is the grade used in aircraft composites

1. It has the highest tensile strength and resistance to impact of any
reinforcing fibre.

2. It is stiffer than glass but only about half as stiff as carbon fibres.

3. It is about 40% lighter than glass fibres.

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4. Laminates are up to 400% stronger than comparable
glass reinforced laminates.

5. Laminates are up to 20% stronger than comparable
carbon reinforced laminates.

6. Laminates are up to 300% stiffer than glass laminates
but 40% less stiff than carbon laminates.

7. It has a very high impact strength with the damage
confined to a small area.
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Hybrid Components

Hybrids are made by the addition of some complementary
material such as fiberglass or Kevlar to the basic
graphite/epoxy matrix.

The added materials are used to obtain specific material
characteristics such as greater fracture toughness and
impact resistance, and should be considered for areas
subject to foreign object damage. The addition of
graphite/epoxy to fiberglass structure is used to provide
additional stiffness.

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The polymer used in conjunction with the reinforcing fibres
is a liquid one and usually referred to as a resin.

To make a composite the resin and fibres are mixed
together in the correct proportions and the resin then
allowed to harden.
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Plastics which are not softened by heat are known as
thermosets. Most of them are supplies as liquid resins
which are hardened by chemical curing. During the curing
process the polymer molecules are permanently joined
together by a process known as crosslinking. Once this
has happened it cannot be reversed and the polymer is
fixed in a permanent shape.

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There are two types of thermoset used to make
composites, polyesters and epoxides.

Polyesters are the most widely used thermosets in
composite moulding. Most everyday fibre reinforced
plastic articles are based on polyesters. However, when
high performance properties are required, epoxides or
epoxy resins are used. That is why they are preferred for
the aerospace industry
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To make a composite, the resin and fibres are mixed together in correct
proportions and the resin then allowed to harden or cure.

Curing the polymer from a thick liquid to a strong solid is a chemical process.
This may be brought about by cold curing or hot curing.

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In this system the laminated composites resin is allowed to cure at room
temperature (21


In this method, the laminates are prepared and put in an oven to activate the resin
A better hot cure system uses an autoclave to remove the air and to mix the fibres
with the resin
The autoclave uses a vacuum to suck out the air and controlled the heaters to cure the
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An important feature of a composite structure is the proportion of fibre to resin
used, or the resin fibre ratio. If too much resin is used, the fibres will have little
effect and the composite will be weak.(resin rich / resin starved )

There is an optimum resin/fibre ratio to produce the best composite. The value
will vary depending on the fibre and resin used. With polyesters the ratio is
usually about two parts of resin to one part of fibre by weight. This is because of
the inferior adhesion of the polyester resin and the fibre, and it is usual to use a
slight excess of resin to make sure that the fibres are thoroughly wetted with resin.

Epoxy resins, with their superior adhesion, bond very well to the fibres so the fibre
resin can be higher to produce a lighter but strong composite. For example, when
using glass fibre and carbon fibre with epoxy resin, equal parts by weight of resin
and fibre are used. Precise resin/fibre ratios are given by the fibre and resin
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Honeycomb structural sheets may be manufactured from many materials. Glass-
fiber plastic materials are often used for the outer faces and also for the honey-
comb core. For aircraft structures, the core material is sometimes made of glass
fiber and the face sheets are of metal. Metal honeycomb core material is often
used with metal faces and is bonded to the faces with chemical adhesives. .
Both aluminium honeycomb and fibre glass honeycomb material are commonly
used in the construction of wing and stabilizer surfaces, bulkhead, floors, control
surfaces and trim tabs

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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Sealant is a material used to form a seal between two imperfectly fitting surfaces
Sealants differ from gaskets in that they are usually liquid and semi-solids.
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Used to exclude dirt, moisture and to provide a liquid and airtight joint.
Also act as a preventative to contact corrosion
There are various types of sealant used on the aircraft, and for the appropriate
type, reference should be made to the structural repair manual (SRM).
Normally, sealant is available as one part or a two-part sealant
A two-part sealant normally consists of a base and an accelerator, and the
mixing ratios should be as per the instructions give in the manual.
The viscosity and the maximum usable time of the sealant are critical, It can
be extract from structural repair manual
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Example of sealant:
(1) PR 1440 A 2 (2) PR 1440 B 2
These are fuel resistant sealant.
The letter A indicates that its viscosity is lower as compared to B.
The number 2 indicate the usable time for this sealant is a maximum of 2
hours (Pot Life).
Curing time for type A is 72 hours and type B is 48 hours.
All relevant fire and personal safety precautions must be observe when
handling the sealant.
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Types of sealing
1. Interfay sealing
This is the first coating of sealant applied to structural parts before they
are riveted or bonded together
Joints should be closed up when the sealant is still wet.
2. Fillet Sealing
As the rivets or bolts are closed, excess sealant will be squeezed out of
the joints and should be removed with a spatula.
Once the joint has been made, a coating of sealant is applied to the edges
of the joint; this coating is called a fillet.
3. Final Brush On Sealant
A final brush - on coat of sealant is applied to overlap the joint and the fillet
The interfay, fillet and brush on coat are part of a standard treatment to
seal integral fuel tanks, and all use a similar sealant.
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For correct procedure of using sealant, reference should be made to the aircraft
maintenance manual and the structural repair manual.
Normally the process involves: -
1. Pre cleaning
2. Preparation of sealant
3. Applying the sealant
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1. Pre-Cleaning
It is absolutely essential that the area to be sealed is perfectly clean and dry.
Prior to sealing, old sealant should be removed.
Remove all particles and degrease area using solvent:
MEK (methyl ether ketone) for non-painted surfaces
Ethylalkohol for painted surfaces
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2. Sealant Preparation
Sealants should not be applied where the ambient temperature is below 15
Mixing: -
Small amount of sealant mixing - Use hand
Large amount of sealant mixing - Carried out by mechanical means
To begin: -
Stir the accelerator with a spatula until it obtains a smooth appearance
Then mix both parts together using a slow stirring motion until a uniform colour
is obtained without any presence of stripes.
For mixing ratios refer to the structural repair manual (SRM).
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3. Applying the Sealant
This should be done evenly, smoothly and avoid any air gap
For interfay sealing, the sealant applied should be sufficient so that during
assembly of the parts:-
The sealant is squeezed out
The excess sealant is removed with a spatula
Sealants should also be applied under to bolt but not on to the thread as
this will adversely effect the torque tightening
All sealing should be done before the usable life has expired
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Composite Inspection
Composite structures require ongoing inspection intervals along with
non-scheduled damage inspection and testing.
When a composite structure is damaged, it must first be thoroughly inspected
to determine the extent of the damage, which often extends beyond the
immediate apparent defect.
Proper inspection and testing methods help determine the classification of
damage, which is, whether the damage is repairable or whether the part
must be replaced.
In addition, classifying the damage helps to determine the proper method of
The manufacturer's structural repair manual outlines inspection procedures,
damage classification factors, and recommended repair methods
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The following are several common composite inspection and testing methods:


Its the most frequently used inspection method in aviation.
This method of inspection is generally used to detect resin-rich areas,
resin starvation, edge delamination, fiber break-out, cracks, blistering,
and other types of surface irregularities
A strong light and magnifying glass are useful tools for visual inspection.

Its the simplest methods used to detect damage in bonded parts.
The laminated part is tapped with a coin or small metallic object, such as
a tap hammer, to detect delamination.
The tap test is an acoustic test, one in which you listen for sound
differences in the part, and is not the most accurate test method.
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Its the most common instrumental NDT method used on composites today
An ultrasonic tester is useful for detecting internal damage such as
delaminations, core crush, and other subsurface defects.


Radiography or x-ray inspection is used to detect differences in the thickness
or physical density when compared to the surrounding material of a
It can be used to detect surface as well as internal cracks.
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Depending on the manufacturer of the aircraft, classification of damage is usually
placed in one of three categories:

1. Negligible Damage
May be corrected by a simple procedure with no flight restrictions

2. Repairable Damage
Is a damage to the skin, bond, or core that cannot be repaired without
placing restrictions on the aircraft or structure.

3. Non-repairable Damage
A composite structure that is damaged beyond limits must be replaced.
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The exact procedures for repair of various laminated composite structures
depends partly on the type of damage incurred.

The damage can range from a relatively simple surface scratch, to damage
completely through all internal plies and core honeycomb material.

There are four basic types of composite repairs:
1. Bolted metal or cured composite patches
2. Bonded metal or cured composite patches
3. Resin injection
4. Laminating new repair plies to the damage
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Bolted & Bonded metal or cured composite patches
Bolted and bonded surface patches are not usually recommended due to
the fact that these types of patches do not restore the strength
characteristics of the original structure.

Resin injection
Resin injection repairs are used to fill holes or voids.
They are accomplished by injecting resin into the hole of a damaged area
using a needle and syringe.
This type of repair is usually done on nonstructural parts.

Laminating new repair plies to the damage
The most desirable type of permanent repair to composite structure is to
laminate new repair plies in the damaged area.
This type of repair involves removing the damaged plies, and laminating
on new ones.
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After installing the first
layer of film, apply heat
with a heat gun to soften
the film.
When performing a repair to
a composite structure, an
adhesive film is used many
times to help bond laminate
patches to the existing part.
Remove the plastic
backing and place the
repair plies over the
adhesive layer.
Finally, apply a final
layer of adhesive film
over the repair plies to
glue the patch in place.
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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Wooden Aircraft
The first airplane built by Wright brothers was from WOOD
WOOD was used on early aircraft because of its availability and relatively
high strength to weight ratio.
The cost of the additional hand labor needed for wood construction and
maintenance had cause wood aircraft to become almost entirely superseded
by those of all metal construction.
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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Wood is not as strong as steel or aluminum, but;
the construction can be so designed that the necessary strength is
achieved with corresponding savings in weight.
Wood a/c structures are light,low cost,high strength,minimum
special equipment for maintenance
Many designers prefer to use wooden spars in acrobatic aircraft because;
wood will better withstand the bending loads imposed during
Unlike metal, wood does not weaken from fatigue.
Many light light aircrafts are made of wood for their primary & secondary
structures ( spars,ribs, control surfaces )
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Wood and adhesive materials used in aircraft repair should meet aircraft quality
standards and be purchased from reputable distributors to ensure such quality.
~ 2 types of wood :
> Hardwood and Softwood ( not the hardness but the cellular structure)
~ Softwood - having needlelike or scale like leaves
(evergreen or the conifers)
- higher strength/weight ratio
- desirable for a/c.
-Sitka spruce,Douglas fir ,Port Oxford
- Sitka spruce used as a reference because of its:
- uniformity,strength and excellent shock resistance.
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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology

leaves are broad deciduos
heavier and stronger
Mahogony , Birch & White Ash
Used for support blocks , tip bows etc

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Composed of a number of plies (layers) of wood veneer assembled with the grain
layer at an angle of 45
to 90
to the adjacent layer

The layers of wood are bonded with synthetic resin glue
( thermosetting ) assembled in a large heated hydraulic press

better quality than commercial type (Mahogany& Birch)
Mahogany better gluing surface


- resist cracking
- even strength
- co-efficient of expansion is negligible
used to make L.E coverings and surface panels
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Composed of a number of solid woods bonded
together with the grains running in the same directions

more rigid than a piece of solid wood

resist warpage better , more uniform strength, resist
shape change

commonly used for severely bent structures-tip
bows,formers and bulkheads

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Species of
Strength Properties as
compare to Spruce
Sitka Spruce 100% Excellent for all causes. Considered as
standard for this table.

Douglas Fir Exceeds spruce May be used as subtitle for spruce in same
size. Difficult to work with hand tools.
Gluing satisfactory.

White Pine 85% 96% Excellent working qualities and uniform in
properties but somewhat low in hardness
and shock-resisting capacity. Gluing

Western Hemlock Slightly exceeds spruce Less uniform in texture then spruce. May
be used as direct substitute for spruce.
Gluing satisfactory.

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Woodworking is a skill that is easily learned by the novice who usually has
a basic knowledge of wood construction and some of the necessary tools.
Strong, rigid, light weight truss or framework wooden
structures have been in use since the 1920s and are
probably the easiest structural type to build.
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Wood is used in fabricating spars, building ribs, floorboards, instrument
panels, wing tip bows, longerons and stringers, leading edges, etc.

Wood is easily formed into shapes making it the obvious choice for wing
tip bows, leading edges, and wing walkways
Figure information:
The easiest wing to build is rectangular
with a constant aerofoil section, constant
thickness and constant chord: commonly
known as a plank wing.

Two solid wood spars are used as shown
in the figure.
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Types Of Defects in Wood Material
Following are several examples of wood defects:
1. Checks

A lengthwise separation or crack of the wood that extends along the
wood grain.
It develops during drying and is commonly caused by differences in
radial and tangential shrinkage or because of uneven shrinkage of
the tissues in adjacent portions of the wood.

2. Shakes

A separation or crack along the grain, the greater part of which may
occur at the common boundary of two rings or within growth rings
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3. Heartwood

The inner core of a woody stem or
log, extending from the pith to the
sap, which is usually darker in color.
This part of the wood contains dead
cells that no longer participate in the
life processes of the tree

4. Knot

That portion of a branch or limb that
is embedded in the wood of a tree
trunk, or that has been surrounded
by subsequent stem growth.
Figure: Several wood defects
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The adhesive used in aircraft structural repair plays a critical role in the
overall finished strength of the structure.

The maintenance technician must only use those types of adhesives that
meet the performance requirements necessary for use in aircraft structures.

Not every type of glue is appropriate for use in all aircraft repair situations.

Because of its importance, use each type of glue in strict accordance with
the aircraft and adhesive manufacturer's instructions.
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A strong joint is obtained when there is a complete contact of glue and wood
surfaces over the entire joint area , unbroken by foreign particles and air bubbles.

Two assembly methods:
Open assembly glue applied to both surfaces and allow time before putting it
together. This thickens the glue and the set up time of the glue is faster.
Do not exposed more than 20 minutes. ( Recommended)
Closed assembly The parts are assembled immediately after application of glue

Gluing Pressure ( held by clamps,nails,weight )or screws
~ to squeeze glue into thin film
~ to force air from joint
~ to produce intimate contact
~Softwood 125 150 psi and hardwood 150 200 psi..
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1. Casein Glue

Most older airplanes were glued with casein glue, which was a powdered
glue made from milk.
Casein glue deteriorates over the years after it is exposed to moisture in the
air and to wide variations in temperature.
Many of the more modern adhesives are incompatible with casein glue.
Types of Adhesives
2. Plastic resin glue

This type of glue usually comes in a powdered form.
Mix it with water and apply it to one side of the joint.
Apply a hardener to the other side of the joint, clamp the two sides
together and the adhesive will begin to set.
Plastic resin glue rapidly deteriorates in hot, moist and under cyclic
stresses, making it obsolete for all aircraft structural repairs.
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Resorcinol glue

Its two-part synthetic resin glue consisting of a resin and a hardener and is the most
water-resistant of the glues used.
The glue is ready for use as soon as the appropriate amount of hardener and resin has
been thoroughly mixed.
Resorcinol adhesive are one of the most common types of glue used in aircraft wood
structure repair.

Phenol-formaldehyde glue

Its the most commonly used in the manufacturing of aircraft-grade plywood.
This glue requires high curing temperatures and pressures making it impractical for use in
the field.

Epoxy resins

This are two-part synthetic resins that generally consist of a resin and a hardener mixed
together in specific quantities.
Epoxies have excellent working properties.
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Most wood damage is caused by conditions such as moisture, temperature,
and sunlight.

Because wood is an organic material, it is subject to mildew and rot unless
protected from moisture.

Keep wood airplanes in well ventilated hangars and take special care to
ensure that all of the drain and ventilation holes remain open.

If a ventilation hole becomes obstructed, changes in air temperature will
cause moisture to condense inside the structure, which will cause the wood
to deteriorate.
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When inspecting a wood structure aircraft, move it into a dry, well-ventilated

One of the first steps is to check the moisture content of the wood using a
moisture meter.

If the moisture content is high, dry the wood structures before inspecting

Wooden structures of the aircraft need to be dry to be able to effectively
determine the condition of the bonded joints.
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The following are several inspection methods and associated equipment employed
for inspecting wooden structures.


Use to determine the moisture content of wood structure.
Wood that is too wet or too dry may compromise the strength and
integrity of the structure. (15 %)
A moisture meter reads the moisture content through a probe that is
inserted into a wooden member. (Marconi moisture meter)


The wood structure may be inspected for structural integrity by tapping
the suspect area with a light plastic hammer or screwdriver handle.
Tapping should produce a sharp, solid noise from a solid piece of wood.
If the wood area sounds hollow or feels soft, inspect further.
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If soft, hollow wood is found during the tap test, probe the suspect area with
a sharp metal tool to determine whether the wood is solid.

Ideally, the wood structure should feel firm and solid when probed.


Use prying to determine whether a bonded joint shows signs of separation.

Light prying is sufficient to check the integrity of a joint.

If there is any movement between the wood members of the joint, a failure of
the bond is confirmed.
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Smell is a good indicator of musty or moldy areas.
When removing the inspection panels, be aware of any odors that may
indicate damage to the wood structure.
Odor is an essential indicator of possible wood deterioration.
Musty and moldy odors reveal the existence of moisture and possible
wood rot.


Visual inspection techniques are used to determine any visible signs of
Both internal and external visual examinations are imperative to a
complete inspection of the wood structure.
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The basic criterion for any aircraft repair is that the repaired structure must
not only be as strong as the original structure, but the rigidity of the
structure and the aerodynamic shape must also be equivalent.

Materials used for the repair of a wooden structure should be the same as
the original unless they have become obsolete.

If substitutions are made, they must produce a repair that meets the basic
requirements of the manufacturer and the authority.
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Aircraft that incorporate plywood skins normally carry a large amount of
stress from the flight load.

Therefore, repairs to plywood skins are made in strict accordance with the
recommendations of the aircraft manufacturer.

There are several types of plywood patches repair
i. Splayed Patch
ii. Surface Patch (External patch)
iii. Plug Patch
iv. Scarfed Patch
Plywood Skin Repair
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Splayed Patch
Small holes in thin plywood skin may be repaired by a splayed

This type of patch is used if the skin is less than or equal to 1/10
inch thick and the hole can be cleaned out to a diameter of less
than 15 thickness (15T)

See figure in the next slide.
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Figure: Splayed patch
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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
There are still many requirements for fabric covered
certificated a/c

it is cheap,easier to install and repair,light and durable.

Organic and inorganic fibers are used

Organics cotton and linen ( affected by UV rays and microorganisms

Inorganic fibers Polyster( Dacron) and fiberglass ( Razorback)

Polyster fabrics are most durable and strong
( Sits Poly Fiber and Ceconite)
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Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology
Dopes is defined as a colloidal solution of cellulose acetate
butyrate or cellulose nitrate. ( Butyrate is more fire resistance)

For sealing ,tautening,and protecting airplane fabric coverings.

Supplied in clear coating or pigmented(aluminium oxide)

A/C nitrate and butyrate dopes shrink as they dry will make the
the organic and fibreglass covering.

For polyster materials the non-tautening dopes are used
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Early airplanes were constructed using organic fabrics, most builders
did not use any special processes to increase the strength of the

These covering were not airtight and tended to loosen and wrinkle with
change in humidity.

In order to keep humid air from flowing through the fabric, builders
began applying a rubberized or varnish finish to the covering surface.
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Cellulose nitrate material consisting of cotton fibres dissolved in nitric acid
was used to form a clear dope that could be worked into the fabric to
produce a stronger and more durable finish.

To improve durability, manufacturers applied colored enamel over doped
fabric to block the sunlight.

Further improvements led manufacturers to blend fine aluminum powder
directly into the dope before it was applied to the fabric.

This technique caused the dope to take on a silver color that blocked the
sunlight and also tended to reflect heat away from the fabric.
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Fabric Covering Products
Fabric covering materials that are used on aircraft must meet the minimum

Be aware of old dopes or solvents.

Some materials have a recommended shelf life, which if not used in a
certain amount of time may not perform to specification.

Using products that are substandard or too old can not only affect safety,
but may also be very costly in time.
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Inspection Method For Fabric
Inspection and repair of fabric should be performed as routine
procedures during the life of a fabric covering.
Inspect the interior of the fabric using appropriate mirrors and flash
Pay special attention to the material around control cable inlets,
inspection rings and drain grommets, looking for areas of physical
wear and general deterioration.
Make sure that no light penetrate the fabric.
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Fabric Inspection
-The testing of the fabric is used to determine if the fabric has
sufficient strength to assure safe operation of the a/c.
-- The strength of the fabric is based on its tensile strength
Use the Seyboth or Maul punch tester .
The tester penetrates the fabric and the strength is indicated on
the scale.
- e.g Min strength for grade A cotton is 56 psi

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Figure: - Example of grommets
Grommets are used for reinforcing holes in textiles for drainage ,lacing
or inspection
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Repair of fabric covering
The type of repairs needed to restore the fabric to its original strength
vary depending on the damage and type of fabric.

Much of the damage that requires a patch results from accidental
physical damage to the fabric, often referred to as hangar rush.

Many of these repairs will be on fabric covering that was applied
using new adhesives.

Common example is to repair L-shaped tears in the fabric.
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-Usually repaired by sewing and doping on the fabric patch

-V tears ,the sewing should start at the apex

Doped on Repair
For a/c that have never exceed 150 mph, a doped on patch can be used

*Sewn in patch
A/C speed has exceeded 150 mph and damage does not exceed 16 in in

Doped on panel repair
When damage has exceeds 16 ins

Sewn in Panel repair used when insufficient tautness when using doped on panel

*Fabric Rejuvenation
-restoring dope coating ( hardened dopes and crack has occurs) but fabric
is still in good condition
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Repair L-Shaped Tears
1 2
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5 6