Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Som R. Soni, PhD


Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) promises to decrease the maintenance cost and increase the availability of aging aircraft fleets by fundamentally changing the way structural inspections are performed. But this promise can only be realized through the consistent and predictable performance of a SHM system throughout the entire remaining life of an aircraft. In a sensor-based SHM system, sensor signal changes are analyzed and interpreted to identify structural flaws. But aircraft environmental factors such as temperature fluctuations, cyclic strain and exposure to various aircraft fluids also have the potential to change SHM sensor signals, raising questions about long term SHM system capability. This research begins by analyzing the current USAF inspection paradigm, known aircraft environmental factors, representative structural inspection locations for the F-15 and C-130, and current SHM technologies. A design of experiments approach is used to build and execute an experiment to determine the effect of one aircraft environmental factor (cyclic strain) on a common SHM technology (PZT-based sensors). Analysis of the experimental results shows the sensors to be significantly affected by cyclic strain, and that the effects can be estimated using a power equation model. A “probability of detection (POD) degradation model” is then developed by extending existing nondestructive evaluation (NDE) POD analysis techniques. This model demonstrates how changes in sensor performance due to an aircraft environmental factor can be used to estimate the change in overall performance of the SHM system. This POD degradation model provides a common framework to predict changes in SHM system performance over the remaining life of an aircraft. An example combining the experimental results with an existing SHM POD analysis shows how the POD degradation model can be applied to current SHM research.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number