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Where Do I Find The Airframe Life Limit  
User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30408 posts, RR: 57
Posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11895 times:

Hey guys, trying to figure out where to look out the life limit of an airframe.

I know it is based on the certification testing.

Thinking that I just went through the TCDS for both the Learjet 20/30 series and the Fairchild Metro series and didn't see it.

Am I looking in the wrong place or what??? Or is the airframe life based solely on condition at inspection for those aircraft?

4 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11892 times:

Well, supposedly the 747s were designed for airframe life of 60,000 hrs... yet I know one still working hard with its 103,000 hrs...
Old airplanes as such are subject to inspections and inspections... sometimes structural modifications for "older airframes"... etc...
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineFBU 4EVER! From Norway, joined Jan 2001, 998 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 11874 times:

Basically,civil airliners and other planes are designed using the "fail-safe" principle.This involves manufacturing procedures,aluminium alloys,etc.,that allows an airliner to remain in service almost indefinitely provided necessary inspections and maintenance are carried out properly.The alternative is an airframe with a "finite life".Used mainly by military airframes,this is the reason why Boeing uses the type number 707 for the civilian version and 717 for the military version,aka as the KC-135.The C-137 is a 707 used by the USAF,and is a "fail-safe" design.

"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
User currently offline411A From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 1826 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (13 years 10 months 2 days ago) and read 11855 times:

You don't...generally most types do not have a life limit (certain British types excepted).

User currently offlineDuncan From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 131 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 10 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 11843 times:

DSO (Design Service Objective) is the term I believe you are looking for. The DSO on Boeing models is around 50,000 cycles, but this does vary for different models (i.e. 747's have shorter cycles DSO than 737's). The DSO is just an initial spec for the original design and doesn't mean that as soon as the A/C reaches 50,000 cycles it must cease operation. When you start designing an airplane, you must have some idea on it's longevity. If Boeing were to design an airplane to last a year, then it would be lighter and less costly. On the other hand, if they were to design one that lasts 100 years, it would be impossibly heavy and expensive. The DSO is the same principle that manufacturers of everything from hairdryers, cars, washing machines and televisions use. Fail safe design was the principle used up until about 1978 (for the FAA). In 1978 ( I think) amendment 25.45 of the FAR's revised FAR 25.571 which introduced 'damage tolerance' design philosophy.

This philosophy is based upon the principle that any damage on the aircraft is safe to fly until it reaches a certain size. That size should, in theory, never be reached if the operator performs the MPD (Maintenance Planning Document) mandated inspections required for continuous airworthiness. The MPD contains inspections which will detect any damage before it reaches it's critical size. Therefore, in theory the structure of the aircraft should be able to fly indefinitely if the MPD is adhered to. The only problem arises when the DSO is reached, there is a higher probability of major damage being found as the design wasn't analyzed or tested beyond that life limit.

The reason the damage tolerance philosophy can be used is the significant advances since the early 50's (when fatigue was first discovered and understood). In the 70's, a significant amount of fatigue testing had been carried out so that more accurate crack propagation analysis could be performed . I like to think of the fail safe design as a 'belt and braces' approach, whereas the damage tolerance design is a 'suck it and see' approach.

Hope this helps.


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