Damage—tolerance and fatigue evaluation of structure.
(a) General. An evaluation of the strength, detail design, and fabrication must show that catastrophic failure due to fatigue, corrosion, manufacturing defects, or accidental damage, will be avoided throughout the operational life of the airplane. This evaluation must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (b) and (e) of this section, except as specified in paragraph (c) of this section, for each part of the structure that could contribute to a catastrophic failure (such as wing, empennage, control surfaces and their systems, the fuselage, engine mounting, landing gear, and their related primary attachments). For turbojet powered airplanes, those parts that could contribute to a catastrophic failure must also be evaluated under paragraph (d) of this section. In addition, the following apply:
(1) Each evaluation required by this section must include—
(i) The typical loading spectra, temperatures, and humidities expected in service;
(ii) The identification of principal structural elements and detail design points, the failure of which could cause catastrophic failure of the airplane; and
(iii) An analysis, supported by test evidence, of the principal structural elements and detail design points identified in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section.
(2) The service history of airplanes of similar structural design, taking due account of differences in operating conditions and procedures, may be used in the evaluations required by this section.
(3) Based on the evaluations required by this section, inspections or other procedures must be established, as necessary, to prevent catastrophic failure, and must be included in the Airworthiness Limitations section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness required by § 25.1529. The limit of validity of the engineering data that supports the structural maintenance program (hereafter referred to as LOV), stated as a number of total accumulated flight cycles or flight hours or both, established by this section must also be included in the Airworthiness Limitations section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness required by § 25.1529. Inspection thresholds for the following types of structure must be established based on crack growth analyses and/or tests, assuming the structure contains an initial flaw of the maximum probable size that could exist as a result of manufacturing or service-induced damage:
(i) Single load path structure, and
(ii) Multiple load path “fail-safe” structure and crack arrest “fail-safe” structure, where it cannot be demonstrated that load path failure, partial failure, or crack arrest will be detected and repaired during normal maintenance, inspection, or operation of an airplane prior to failure of the remaining structure.
(b) Damage-tolerance evaluation. The evaluation must include a determination of the probable locations and modes of damage due to fatigue, corrosion, or accidental damage. Repeated load and static analyses supported by test evidence and (if available) service experience must also be incorporated in the evaluation. Special consideration for widespread fatigue damage must be included where the design is such that this type of damage could occur. An LOV must be established that corresponds to the period of time, stated as a number of total accumulated flight cycles or flight hours or both, during which it is demonstrated that widespread fatigue damage will not occur in the airplane structure. This demonstration must be by full-scale fatigue test evidence. The type certificate may be issued prior to completion of full-scale fatigue testing, provided the Administrator has approved a plan for completing the required tests. In that case, the Airworthiness Limitations section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness required by § 25.1529 must specify that no airplane may be operated beyond a number of cycles equal to 1⁄2 the number of cycles accumulated on the fatigue test article, until such testing is completed. The extent of damage for residual strength evaluation at any time within the operational life of the airplane must be consistent with the initial detectability and subsequent growth under repeated loads. The residual strength evaluation must show that the remaining structure is able to withstand loads (considered as static ultimate loads) corresponding to the following conditions:
(1) The limit symmetrical maneuvering conditions specified in § 25.337 at all speeds up to Vc and in § 25.345.
(2) The limit gust conditions specified in § 25.341 at the specified speeds up to VC and in § 25.345.
(3) The limit rolling conditions specified in § 25.349 and the limit unsymmetrical conditions specified in §§ 25.367 and 25.427 (a) through (c), at speeds up to VC.
(4) The limit yaw maneuvering conditions specified in § 25.351(a) at the specified speeds up to VC.
(5) For pressurized cabins, the following conditions:
(i) The normal operating differential pressure combined with the expected external aerodynamic pressures applied simultaneously with the flight loading conditions specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (4) of this section, if they have a significant effect.
(ii) The maximum value of normal operating differential pressure (including the expected external aerodynamic pressures during 1 g level flight) multiplied by a factor of 1.15, omitting other loads.
(6) For landing gear and directly-affected airframe structure, the limit ground loading conditions specified in §§ 25.473, 25.491, and 25.493.
If significant changes in structural stiffness or geometry, or both, follow from a structural failure, or partial failure, the effect on damage tolerance must be further investigated.
(c) Fatigue (safe-life) evaluation. Compliance with the damage-tolerance requirements of paragraph (b) of this section is not required if the applicant establishes that their application for particular structure is impractical. This structure must be shown by analysis, supported by test evidence, to be able to withstand the repeated loads of variable magnitude expected during its service life without detectable cracks. Appropriate safe-life scatter factors must be applied.
(d) Sonic fatigue strength. It must be shown by analysis, supported by test evidence, or by the service history of airplanes of similar structural design and sonic excitation environment, that—
(1) Sonic fatigue cracks are not probable in any part of the flight structure subject to sonic excitation; or
(2) Catastrophic failure caused by sonic cracks is not probable assuming that the loads prescribed in paragraph (b) of this section are applied to all areas affected by those cracks.
(e) Damage-tolerance (discrete source) evaluation. The airplane must be capable of successfully completing a flight during which likely structural damage occurs as a result of—
(1) Impact with a 4-pound bird when the velocity of the airplane relative to the bird along the airplane's flight path is equal to Vc at sea level or 0.85Vc at 8,000 feet, whichever is more critical;
(2) Uncontained fan blade impact;
(3) Uncontained engine failure; or
(4) Uncontained high energy rotating machinery failure.
The damaged structure must be able to withstand the static loads (considered as ultimate loads) which are reasonably expected to occur on the flight. Dynamic effects on these static loads need not be considered. Corrective action to be taken by the pilot following the incident, such as limiting maneuvers, avoiding turbulence, and reducing speed, must be considered. If significant changes in structural stiffness or geometry, or both, follow from a structural failure or partial failure, the effect on damage tolerance must be further investigated.
[Amdt. 25-45, 43 FR 46242, Oct. 5, 1978, as amended by Amdt. 25-54, 45 FR 60173, Sept. 11, 1980; Amdt. 25-72, 55 FR 29776, July 20, 1990; Amdt. 25-86, 61 FR 5222, Feb. 9, 1996; Amdt. 25-96, 63 FR 15714, Mar. 31, 1998; 63 FR 23338, Apr. 28, 1998; Amdt. 25-132, 75 FR 69781, Nov. 15, 2010]