Fibre Optic Shape Sensing and Load Monitoring of Adaptive Aerospace Structures

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The aerospace industry is an ever-evolving field that has seen many technological advances over the past decades. The desire for aircraft to be not only efficient and reliable but also cheaper and safer has brought about many proposals across the industry. One of these advances is towards morphing aircraft wings to make wings lighter, more flexible, aerodynamically efficient and structurally stable. One of the key elements of a morphing wing is sensors that monitor the loads and shape of the wing throughout the flight. Within the framework of the SmartX project, the goal and contribution of this study is on the design and development of novel sensing methods for Structural Health Monitoring. This has been performed with a specific focus on shape sensing and load monitoring. This thesis is focussed towards the design and development of a Structural Health Monitoring tool for adaptive aerospace structures and at the same time to reduce the dependency on a high number of sensors. Within the already available fibre optic sensor techniques an identification was made for demonstrating the potential of a higher performing SHM tool involving the combination of FBG spectral sensing and FBG-Pair interferometric sensing. A proposal is made to have a reliable, robust and cost effective sensing methodology for real time monitoring of morphing structures with a simultaneous focus on the SmartX morphing wing demonstrator. The method developed and demonstrated in this thesis is not limited to aerospace (and morphing) structures and can be extended to other engineering structures. Load carrying structures that undergo deformations/deflections can be monitored provided they are properly calibrated. These include, but are not limited to, rotor blades, masts, beam structures and bridges.