Survival Analysis of Aging Aircraft Open Access

This study pushes systems engineering of aging aircraft beyond the boundaries of empirical and deterministic modeling by making a sharp break with the traditional laboratory-derived corrosion prediction algorithms that have shrouded real-world failures of aircraft structure. At the heart of this problem is the aeronautical industry's inability to be forthcoming in an accurate model that predicts corrosion failures. The struggle to develop accurate probabilistic models stems from a multitude of real-world interacting variables that synergistically influence corrosion failures in convoluted and complex ways. This dissertation, in essence, offers a statistical framework for the analysis of structural airframe corrosion failure by utilizing real-world data while considering the effects of interacting variables. This study injects realism into corrosion failure of aircraft structural systems by accomplishing four major goals related to the conceptual and methodological framework of corrosion modeling. First, this work connects corrosion modeling from the traditional, laboratory derived algorithms to corrosion failures in actual operating aircraft. This work augments physics-based modeling by examining the many confounding and interacting variables, such as environmental, geographical and operational, that impact failure of airframe structural systems. Examined through the lens of censored failure data from aircraft flying in a maritime environment, this study enhances the understanding between the triad of the theoretical, laboratory and real-world corrosion. Secondly, this study explores the importation and successful application of an advanced biomedical statistical tool--survival analysis--to model censored corrosion failure data. This well-grounded statistical methodology is inverted from a methodology that analyzes survival to one that examines failures. Third, this work demonstrates the development of a probabilistic corrosion failure model using survival analysis methods and techniques. Finally, in a paradigm enhancement to current design methodologies, this dissertation place sets survival analysis modeling in the context of an emerging holistic structural integrity philosophy.

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