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Structural Analysis for the American Airlines Flight 587 Accident Investigation: Global AnalysisNASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) supported the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the American Airlines Flight 587 accident investigation due to LaRC's expertise in high-fidelity structural analysis and testing of composite structures and materials. A Global Analysis Team from LaRC reviewed the manufacturer s design and certification procedures, developed finite element models and conducted structural analyses, and participated jointly with the NTSB and Airbus in subcomponent tests conducted at Airbus in Hamburg, Germany. The Global Analysis Team identified no significant or obvious deficiencies in the Airbus certification and design methods. Analysis results from the LaRC team indicated that the most-likely failure scenario was failure initiation at the right rear main attachment fitting (lug), followed by an unstable progression of failure of all fin-to-fuselage attachments and separation of the VTP from the aircraft. Additionally, analysis results indicated that failure initiates at the final observed maximum fin loading condition in the accident, when the VTP was subjected to loads that were at minimum 1.92 times the design limit load condition for certification. For certification, the VTP is only required to support loads of 1.5 times design limit load without catastrophic failure. The maximum loading during the accident was shown to significantly exceed the certification requirement. Thus, the structure appeared to perform in a manner consistent with its design and certification, and failure is attributed to VTP loads greater than expected.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
Young, Richard D.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Lovejoy, Andrew E.
(Analytical Services and Materials, Inc. Hampton, VA, United States)
Hilburger, Mark W.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Moore, David F.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2005
Subject Category
Structural Mechanics
Meeting Information
Meeting: 46th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference
Location: Austin, TX
Country: United States
Start Date: April 18, 2005
End Date: April 21, 2005
Funding Number(s)
OTHER: 23-762-55-PI
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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