Aerospace, Vol. 3, Pages 18: Large Scale Applications Using FBG Sensors: Determination of In-Flight Loads and Shape of a Composite Aircraft Wing

Research paper by Matthew Nicolas, Rani Sullivan, W. Richards

Indexed on: 29 Jun '16Published on: 23 Jun '16Published in: Aerospace


Technological advances have enabled the development of a number of optical fiber sensing methods over the last few years. The most prevalent optical technique involves the use of fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. These small, lightweight sensors have many attributes that enable their use for a number of measurement applications. Although much literature is available regarding the use of FBGs for laboratory level testing, few publications in the public domain exist of their use at the operational level. Therefore, this paper gives an overview of the implementation of FBG sensors for large scale structures and applications. For demonstration, a case study is presented in which FBGs were used to determine the deflected wing shape and the out-of-plane loads of a 5.5-m carbon-composite wing of an ultralight aerial vehicle. The in-plane strains from the 780 FBG sensors were used to obtain the out-of-plane loads as well as the wing shape at various load levels. The calculated out-of-plane displacements and loads were within 4.2% of the measured data. This study demonstrates a practical method in which direct measurements are used to obtain critical parameters from the high distribution of FBG sensors. This procedure can be used to obtain information for structural health monitoring applications to quantify healthy vs. unhealthy structures.