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Wing repair using an adhesively bonded boron composite patch – design and verification

Roman Ružek (Department of Strength of Structures, aVýzkumný a zkušební letecký ústav, a.s. (VZLÚ), Prague, Czech Republic.)
Radek Doubrava (Strength of Structures, Aerospace Research and Test Establishment (VZLU), Prague, Czech Republic.)
Jan Raška (Strength of Structures, Aerospace Research and Test Establishment (VZLU), Prague, Czech Republic.)

International Journal of Structural Integrity

ISSN: 1757-9864

Article publication date: 13 April 2015




Various types of damage or cracking in the structural components of an airframe can occur during the service lifetimes of aging aircraft. These types of damage are commonly repaired with a patch that can be joined to the original structure by different techniques, e.g., riveting and bonding. The purpose of this paper is to describe the repair of a fatigue crack in the metallic wing structure of a jet trainer aircraft using an adhesively bonded boron composite patch.


The partial analytical design and numerical analysis of the repair is presented. Three different versions of the patch are quantitatively investigated. The efficiency of the designed adhesively bonded boron patch with the parent metallic structure is experimentally verified by panel tests, and two different patch geometries and two surface preparation techniques are investigated. The panels were designed, manufactured and tested as representative structures of the repaired structure.


Adhesively bonded composite repair increases the lifetime by at least one order compared with the non-repaired structure. Both surface preparations provide equivalent results. The repair lifetime is significantly influenced by the patch geometry, and the longer patch significantly increases the lifetime of the panel. The lifetime of the structure can be increased by ˜40-fold if the patch geometry is a rectangle with 1:1.5 proportions of the sides (length in the crack direction/length perpendicular to the crack propagation). The patch length in the crack direction should be twice that of the initial crack length. Additional patch length extension in the direction that is perpendicular to the crack propagation does not appear to be effective for significantly decreasing the stress intensity factor and patch efficiency. The repair also retards the crack propagation if the crack grows out of the patch. No significant disbonding was detected.


The work described in this paper provides information that is very useful for patch design and verification with relation to different patch geometries and technologies. The designed and verified repair has been successfully applied to an L-39 Czech aircraft structure.



The work was supported by institutional funding from the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.


Ružek, R., Doubrava, R. and Raška, J. (2015), "Wing repair using an adhesively bonded boron composite patch – design and verification", International Journal of Structural Integrity, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 259-278.



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