Helicopter dynamic component fatigue life prediction with a probabilistic load and strength model

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Dekker, S.
Wurzel, G.
Alderliesten, R.
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Fatigue life is a random variable. The reliability of a conservative fatigue life prediction for a component in the helicopter dynamic system thus needs to be substantiated. A standard analytical substantiation method uses average manoeuvre loads instead of seeing manoeuvre loads as a random variable whose distribution is estimated with limited precision. This simplification may lead to inaccuracies. A new simulation-based method is developed to conservatively predict fatigue life while also accounting for the full random distribution and uncertainty of manoeuvre loads. Both methods fully account for uncertain fatigue strength but assume that the mission profile is known or can at least be conservatively estimated. Simulations under synthetic but realistic engineering conditions demonstrate that both methods may be used for accurate substantiation of conservative fatigue life predictions. The simulations also demonstrate that, under the tested conditions, uncertainties from manoeuvre loads may be neglected in fatigue life substantiations as the resulting error is not significant with respect to uncertainties in component fatigue strength.