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The development of fiber reinforced resin-bonded structural composite materials has created a new degree of design flexibility for the helicopter engineer. The development and commercial availability of glass fibers, carbon or graphite fibers, and boron fibers, with their attendant widely varying stiffness properties and material densities, enable the specialist both to design his structure to utilize the excellent fatigue properties of the materials available and to design the inherent properties of the material which he intends to use in his advanced VTOL systems.
Filament reinforced epoxy structures are compared with metal structures commonly used for helicopter rotor blades. Test data on several fiber reinforced epoxy materials and development test results of full-sized reinforced epoxy rotor blade segments are given. The manufacturing techniques, quality assurance provisions, and economic considerations of the cost of materials versus component performance improvements are also discussed.
composite materials, fibers, rotary wings, rotors, helicopters, fatigue (materials)
Chief, Boeing Company, Philadelphia, Pa.