Lightning strike tests at Eurocopter's Donauwörth facility have verified finite element analysis accuracy for carbonfibre structure current flow simulation, according to a European research consortium.

Composite airframe structures have less natural protection against lightning because they are not as conductive as purely metal fuselages or wings. So simulation is seen as a method for optimising designs to incorporate the lightning-protection measures needed, such as conductive coatings or strips that will add weight.

Cobham Technical Services' Opera electromagnetic design software was used to model the current flow through a helicopter structure. Actual tests on a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter structure then validated that model.

The test was carried out for the European Union's €4.2 million ($6.3 million) In-flight Lightning Strike Damage Assessment System project. The project was conceived to develop an in-flight embedded system for measuring actual lightning strikes.


Source: Flight International