Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Faysal Kolkailah


Composites are now being incorporated into aircraft designs because of their high strength to weight ratio compared to traditional metal materials. Due to the complexity of the material, composite parts are presently being over designed to satisfy static and fatigue requirements. A greater understanding of composite fatigue behavior will allow for even greater weight savings leading to increased fuel economy. A critical part of an aircraft that is subjected to fatigue bending loads are its wings. The forces acting on the wings include its lift distribution, powerplant, and fuel which can be carried in the wing body. When in flight these forces repeatedly cause cyclic displacements which could ultimately lead to failure. It is important to design the wing spars which carry the bending loads, to be fatigue resistant so that damage or expensive inspections could be avoided.

Wing models were be made from composite materials with a NACA 0016 airfoil shape, chord length of 9.25”, and a span of 15.25”. The C – channel spars were located at 22% and 72% of the chord. Strain gages on the wing model were used to measure strain at different locations. Static test were conducted on the specimens in order to validate a finite element analysis(FEA) model to be used for simulations. Overall, the strain measurements on the leading edge from two of the wings matched the model within 9% of the simulation results. Additional spar designs were then analyzed to determine the optimal one for static and fatigue bending loads. The wings were fatigue tested under displacement control at a test frequency. A model 8801 servo-hydraulic Instron machine and Wave Matrix software was used to fatigue the wings. After 100,000 cycles the test would be deemed a success and concluded.