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Chapter 1


The aim of this book is to present the principles of aircraft structures to the interested reader in a manner that is both clear and thorough whilst avoiding the necessity for complex mathematical formulae. No previous knowledge of the eld is assumed, only the desire to know more. Like most industries, aviation has various specialist elds which are often considered to be black arts by the uninitiated; the work of the aircraft structures analyst, or stressman, falls into this category. However, as with most disciplines, given a little curiosity and some application the basic principles may be easily understood, at which point much of the mystery disappears. There are many people involved in the engineering side of the aircraft industry, such as draughtsmen, tters or licensed engineers, who deal with aircraft structures in their daily lives, yet may have only an incomplete understanding of why aircraft are designed as they are. For those people, and others with enquiring minds, reading this book will not make them stressmen. It will, however, give them a qualitative understanding of the general principles of aircraft structures, allowing them to ask informed questions. The book is written in such a way that individual chapters may be read independently of each other if a topic is of particular interest to the reader. However, taken together they provide a logical progression and offer a thorough introduction to the subject. The book begins by giving an historical perspective, presenting a brief outline of the evolution of aircraft structures from the earliest ying machines to the present day. The one major change in philosophy made by aircraft structures designers is described. After this the basic shape and main structural elements of the aeroplane are dened, whilst introducing the fundamental reason why an aircraft requires a structure at all; that is to support the various loads applied to it. Subsequent chapters explain the form which that structure takes in order to efciently carry those loads, the materials that are employed to make it and the processes involved in its construction. There follows an introduction to the principles of corrosion protection and there is a distillation of much rule of thumb and good engineering practice so essential to the sound detail design of aircraft structures. The regulatory and quality environment within which the

Understanding Aircraft Structures

aviation industry functions is outlined. Later chapters allow an insight into the work of the stressman and describe, in broad terms, the justication and documentation necessary to gain approval for aircraft modications. For anybody intending to become an aircraft structures specialist (stressman) Understanding Aircraft Structures will provide a rm foundation upon which to build and will provide explanations of phenomena which may not be easily found in more formal textbooks. Those who are simply looking for a broad appreciation of the subject will also nd all that they require in this book.