Aerospace MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) Techniques for Composite Material Repair

With a greater investment in composite materials, the aerospace industry has shown interest in embracing such benefits as lighter weight, more durable and longer-lasting aircraft. But while composite materials have been in use on a smaller scale for some time, a greater percentage of aircrafts now feature materials like carbon fiber, epoxy and other structural adhesives. In the 1950s, composites accounted for just 2 percent of the overall aircraft structure. Today, aircraft like the Boeing 787 are composed of roughly 50 percent composite material.

In addition to a decreased weight load and better resistance to fatigue and corrosion, composites can yield cost and time savings, particularly in the aerospace MRO sector. For airlines, aircraft-on-ground (AOG) costs can translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which makes quick repairs even more attractive.

When it comes to repair techniques, there are three main approaches in use today: quick composite repair (specific to Boeing), bonded repair and bolted repair.

Quick composite repair

Specifically developed and patented by Boeing, the quick composite repair address minor dents or nicks on small areas of an aircraft, quick composite repair uses a pre-cured patch and quick-curing adhesive. This type of repair can be completed at the gate in as little as one hour and can be done even in bad weather. The aircraft can then be returned to service and the damage addressed more permanently at the next maintenance check.

Bonded repair

In the event of a larger area of damage, bonded repair allows MRO professionals to remove the damaged area, then layer and cure new composite plies using heat and pressure. This restores the material’s original strength and can be completed in as little as 8-12 hours.

Bolted repair

Designed for larger aircraft holes, bolted repair uses plate material – either cured composite solid laminate or solid metal plate – and fasteners. This, again, helps restore the original surface and strength of the aircraft component or area.

Composites One is the leading supplier of composites for the aerospace industry

Composites One is the leading supplier of composite materials throughout North America. Our technicians work closely with professionals in the aerospace industry, including the MRO sector, to determine which specified composite materials will best fit their needs. To learn more about our composite materials or how our composites can help improve aircraft longevity and reduce MRO time, contact our technical specialists today.